16 The migration of the Biimaal is thought to have begun some 700 years ago due to conflicts with the Danakil (in the present area of Djibouti). The migration process towards the south took some five centuries. Now the Biimaal has resided in the present area for the last 2-300 centuries.
The Geledi Sultanate was founded in the late 18th century after the Ajuuran dynasty and their Hawiye/Silcis allies were defeated, and the Sheikhs of the Gobroon lineage of the Geledi had assumed the title of Suldaan (Luling 2002). Similarly, and roughly during the same period, lineages of the Biimaal of the Dir clan arrived and began to establish a Sulta-nate in the area behind the coastal town of Merka in present day Lower Shabelle, after they revolted, and defeated the Sultan of Ajuuran. Both of these sultantes maintained armies, courts, prisons, and were highly dynamic and out seeking eager to link with global trade. They invited experts from India and elsewhere to train their people in skills such as weaving, textile industry, milling and agricultural production, and topographical surveys used to make irrigation canals. This development was however stopped by the Italians.17
The Geledi Sultanate was ruled by a Suldaan from the Gobroon lineage of the Geledi. The Suldaan and his Sultanate was already in a weakened position by the time the Italians began their colonization of South-Central Somalia in the late 19th century. Marked by internal squabbles, the Sultanate had been split into two as a brother to the Suldaan established the Gasaar Gude Sultanate in Luuq. Furthermore, the rivalling Biimaal Sultanate had defeated the Geledi and killed their Suldaan during their 30 year conflict in the latter half of the 19th century. Hence, while the title of Suldaan once was the ruler of all the Digil and Mirifle (Raxanweyn), it is now limited to his own clan only. Below the Suldaan, in this past Geledi hierarchy, you would find the warleaders titled Malaakh. They were the commanders in chief, and responsible for communication between the Suldaan and the clan he was heading in case of war. Today, in the absence of a strong Suldaan, all the major clan-groups of the Raxanweyn have their own Malaakh.
One of the most important systems of the Geledi Sultanate that still exist, albeit in lesser versions, is the council of akhyaar, which consisted of the elders of a lineage group, who were called ul-hay (staff holders), or ul-guduud (an expression also used in Luuq, referring to the red colour of a staff after years of coffee-bean oiling indicating the owners senior age). The akhyaar took care of internal clan affairs, and served as a consultative link between the Suldaan and the clans. A similar system existed for the Gasaara Gude Sultanate in Luugh, as well as among other Raxanweyn clan groups such as the Xubeer. Each lineage group would select which of its ul-hay or ul-guduud should become member of the akhyaar. Large groups may have had the right to select more than one. There were no formal procedures for election or nomination for the akhyaar. But a man became an elder by virtue of the respect he gradually won from his fellow lineage members, and recognition by the other akhyaar (Luling 2002: 185).
In 1969, the Siad Barre regime abolished the capo qabil, which was the name the Italian administration gave to the ul-hay and ul-guduud. But, in practice they simply reinstated the same elders under the new name: nabadoon. Hence, the rural village committees installed by the Siad Barre regime, in effect remained the council of akhyaar (Luling 2002: 196). Hence, from the old sultanates, what remains is the combination of the Malaakh and the council of akhyaar, whose individual members now may no longer be called ul-hay or ul-guduud, but nabadoon. Interestingly, the study found that the term akhyaar today is also applied by the pastoralist in South Central Somalia. The akhyaar is today the most important entity in handling the daily affairs of the clans. It functions as the interlocutor between the given clan community and whatever authority there exist be it regional admi-nistration, transitional government, warlord, sharia court or even external humanitarian aid agencies.
Hirab is the common term referring to the Hawiye clans residing in Lower Shabelle. Hirab is a less known ancestor among the Hawiye, and is referred to as the common denominator forming an alliance of the Abgaal, Murosade, Shekhal, Mudulod, Habr Gedir/Ayr, Gugundabe and Duduble.
The common word used for the highest ranked elders here is not issim, but duub. For this highest level of elders the following terms are used: The Jajeele clan use Dagordi, Baade Adde use Wabaar, Xawadle and Gaaljeel use Ugaas. The Hawiye/Habr Gedir sub-clans of Ayr/Murosade/Saleeban and the Hawiye/Abgal use Imam. Interestingly, the Habr Gedir/Sa’ad does not have any elders at this level. These elders are found
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