Why Is Somalia Considered One of the Most Dangerous Places to Live in the World

Topics: Somalia, Somali people, Somaliland Pages: 27 (10176 words) Published: May 22, 2012
The Somali Republic is the easternmost extension of the African continent and is bordered by Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. The Somali are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. More than eight million Somalis live in a territory stretching north from northern Kenya to Djibouti and west from the Indian Ocean to the Ogaden in Ethiopia. Although Somalis are often seen as one of the few ethnic groups that define a nation, the country of Somalia does contain small enclaves of other groups. The Somalis speak the Somali language and are Sunni Muslims. By the end of the 19th century years of treaties had partitioned the Somali home territory into the British Somaliland Protectorate, French Somaliland, Italian Somalia, northern Kenya and the Ogaden in Ethiopia. A total of sixty per cent of the population of Somalia, concentrated primarily in the north, is nomadic. The southern region between the Juba and the Shabeelle rivers is the main area where settled agriculture is practised. Because only 13% of the land is arable, there is intense pressure on available pasture and water. Somalis are divided into six major clan-families, the Daarood, Isaaq, Hawiye, Dir, Digil and Rahanwayn; each of which comprises numerous sub-families and lineages. The Isaaq and the Daarood are predominantly pastoralist, while the Southern clans (mainly Hawiye and Rahanwayn), have long mixed herding with peasant farming. Pastoralists have faced grave problems in environmental degradation of the grain lands in the north since the 1980s. Somalia has an ethnic homogeneity unusual in Africa, with Somalis constituting 85% of the population. Most of its citizens share a common language, religion and culture. Yet it has never achieved lasting stability as a nation. Since the early 1990s its civil war has been one of the most destructive in recent African history. European colonization resulted in the division of Somali territory into five different colonies. Reunification preoccupied successive elites at the cost of addressing more concrete issues. National issues remained undebated while the cultivation of clan and subclan interests accentuated the demise of kinship and the rise of clannism, the politicisation of the clan structure for personal gain. Various possibilities have been proposed in seeking to explain why one of the few nations on the continent with predominantly one ethnic group, one religion, culture and language should have become overcome by a devastating civil war. Some scholars relate this political instability to the Somali clan system, in which retaliation for offences committed by rival clans can easily escalate into warfare. Others argue that Somalia’s recent turmoil reflects efforts by elites to manipulate clan loyalties in the hope of increasing their own wealth. Still other contend that Somalia’s homogeneity is in fact a myth that obscures long –standing tensions between nomadic groups and the descendants of Bantu-speaking slaves. Moreover, some analysts trace the roots of conflict to the colonial period, when access to power and pastoral resources – long regulated by Somalia’s many widely dispersed clan leaders – came under the control of the centralized colonial and later post colonial - state. Due to a lack of written evidence of the early history of the Somaal, numerous historical perspectives on the origins of the Somaal have been presented. According to Arab historical sources the ancestors of the Somali people migrated south from the shores of the Red Sea into the Cushitic-speaking Oromo region from approximately the 10 th century, with the Oromos displacing the Bantu-speaking people further south. According to another source based in northern oral history, the Somali are a hybrid group originating in the marriages of two Arab patriarchs to local Dir women, whose descendants migrated from the Gulf of Aden towards Northern Kenya in the tenth century. Most contemporary scholars however argue...
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