Nearly all armed conflicts in contemporary Somalia break out along clan lines.
Clan identities are malleable and can be shaped by leaders to pursue control of resources
Clan identities are not the basis for conflict; rather, their deliberate manipulation creates
and exacerbates divisions.
Clan groups can serve as destructive or constructive forces as well as traditional conflict
The Ashraf in Bay
region, however, are not classified as Benadiris since they are part of the Rahanweyne clan
(Ashraf Sarman), while the Ashraf of Mogadishu do belong to the Reer Hamar. According to
representatives from Reer Hamar groups consulted by the joint British, Danish and Dutch
fact-finding mission to Nairobi in 2000, the Ashraf are divided into the following groups:
• Hussein: Reer Sharif Maqbuul, Sharif Ahmed, Sharif Ba-Alawi.
• Hassan: Mohamed Sharif, Sharif Ali, Sharif Ahmed, Ashraf Sarman.
According to another account, five major Ashraf lineages were found in Somalia at the end of
the nineteenth century (Reese 1996). The Ahmad, Jamal al-Leyl and Bah Alawi, claiming
descent from Husayn, formed the majority living in the coastal towns. The much smaller
Umar and Abdullah lineages, progeny of Hasan, lived as farmers and herders in the interior.
However, these lists must not be taken as definitive. There are other groups such as the Ashraf
Hassan al-Ahdali of Marka (Virginia Luling, e-mail communication 20 October 2006).
The Geledi and the Begedi could, according to the British anthropologist and researcher
Virginia Luling, also be considered as Benadiris because they consist of subclans which are
conventionally described as light-skinned (gibilcad), with members generally noticeably
lighter in complexion than their neighbours. (This is a conventional classification, however,
and not all the members of these subclans are equally light-skinned). These subgroups trace
their descent to the Arabian peninsula (e-mail communication 25 April 2005). Not all Geledi
are gibilcad – they include dark-skinned subclans as well. Dr Ahmed Sharif Abbas supports
this, and has stated that the Reer Hamar community itself recognises the Geledi and the
Begedi as Benadiri (interview, 16 March 2005).3
Some of the lineages in Mogadishu can also be found in Marka and Barawe, where these and
other lineages are collectively known as Reer Marka and Reer Barawe.
According to different Reer Hamar sources (interviews in Nairobi 2002-2007, interviews in
Oslo august 2005) there are four major Reer Hamar clans (Somali: afarta reer xamar). These
are the Moorshe, Iskashato, DhabarWeyne and the Bandawow. In addition to these, there are
many other smaller groups. Different sources mention different numbers of groups etc.,
1 According to representatives from the Shansiye, “every door” paid 3 000 somali shilling in protection money on a daily basis (interview in Nairobi, September 2005).
2 According to representatives from Shansiye interviewed by Landinfo in Nairobi in September 2005, the socalled dark-skinned Benadiris, i.e. Moorshe, Bandawow and Dhabarweyne, were protected by their Somali neighbours because they were dark-skinned (and presumed to be more native Somali), while most of the lightskinned Benadiris had fled at the beginning of the civil war (1991-1992).
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