The Clans

     The clan system, which is the basis of Somali society, is a century-old tradition of ancestral ties.  The Somali people are broken into six major clan groups, which are each broken down into several sub-clans (2).  Each clan controls a different region of the country (see map).  The Darod clan, which is the biggest group, is mostly located along the horn of Somalia.  A smaller group of this clan is located along the southern border of the country.  The Hawiye clan controls much of the country’s central region, including parts of Mogadishu.  The Issaq clan is in control of the northwestern region of Somalia.  The other three major clans, the Digil, Rahanweyn, and Dir, all control smaller regions in the country’s interior (3)
     A major reason why a united Somalia failed is because most Somalis never really saw themselves as a common people, but as a people broken into to separate clans.  “For many Somalis, clan or lineage was as far as their identity needed to be stretched.  Certainly for everyday purposes Somali was a relatively meaningless term.  Identity was determined by genealogy” (4).  Fighting among clans was the source of much of the conflict that broke out after the departure of Siad Barre.

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