.....(Hal-ku-dhigyo Dhaxal-gal Noqday) = ..... President, C/raxmaan A. Cali: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland dib ayay ula soo Noqotay Qaran-nimadeedii sidaa awgeed, waa dal xor ah oo gooni u taagan maanta (18/05/1991) laga bilaabo''...>>>>> President, Maxamad I.Cigaal:''Jiritaanka Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland'' Waa mid waafaqsan xeerasha u-degsan Caalamka! Sidaa darteed, waa Qaran xaq u leh in Aduunku aqoonsado''...>>>>> President, Daahir R. Kaahin: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland waa dal diimuqraadi ah oo caalamka ka sugaya Ictiraafkiisa''...>>>>> President, Axmed M. Siilaanyo: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland, Boqol sano haday ku qaadanayso helista Ictiraafkeedu way Sugaysaa! Mar dambena la midoobi mayso Somalia-Italia''.....[***** Ha Jirto J.Somaliland Oo Ha Joogto Waligeed *****].....

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Dirkii Sacmaallada (The Progenies of Cattle Milkers): The BOOK

The Book is in Somali but here is a note for the English readers :

- In this book, Dirkii Sacmaallada (literally, the Progenies of Cattle Milkers), I trace the origins of Somalis back to location between present-day Sudan and Egypt. The drying of the Sahara Desert (circa 5000 - 7,000 years ago) triggered the dispersal and wandering of the pastoral Cushitic peoples. The proto-Somalis and other groups of the eastern and southern Cushitic peoples followed an east and south-east direction to gain access to greener pastures. The Somalis, therefore, after a long sojourn in the northeastern part of the Horn, particularly the coastal and mountainous Golis Range that run parallel to the Gulf of Aden all the way to Cape Guardafui, moved south and southwest, slowly expanding to their present localities in Somaliland, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The origin of the Somali has long been a disputed issue; I. M. Lewis and Cerulli placed the origins as well as their point of dispersal in the northeastern part of the Somali territory, later pushing the Oromo to western and southern directions. However, in this book I argue that the Oromo did not precede Somalis as propagated by Cerulli and I. M. Lewis, but rather departed, during the 16th century, from their home in Southern Ethiopia to northwestern part of the present-day Somaliland, Djibouti and Region V of Ethiopia.

These events followed the bloody and destructive wars between the Christians of Ethiopia in collaboration with Portuguese crusaders on one hand, and the allied Muslim forces, predominantly Somalis, led by Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Ghazi (Ahmed Guray). Other writers such as Fleming, Heine, E. R. Turton and H.S Lewis, with support from a hypothesis postulated by Isidore Dyen, placed the origin of Somalis in Southern Ethiopia.

Even the meaning of the word ‘Somali’ has been given different interpretations. These include ‘Samaale,’ the legendary common ancestor of Somalis, ‘Soo maal’ – literally meaning ‘go and milk’, which implies a plenitude of milk and hospitality. Some of the other interpretations are ‘So’ maal’ which is said to have originated from the combination of so’ (which stands for meat) and maal (one who lives on a meat diet), and likewise also from the compound Arabic word ‘Zu-maalin’ which means ‘well-endowed with riches’.

The Somali country was truly well endowed with both floral and animal riches, including vast numbers of livestock consisting of sheep, goats, camels and cattle, compared to the scarcity of easily attainable resources in the Arabian Peninsula, which is environmentally dominated by deserts. ‘Sumal’ or the ram kept for mating with ewes is also one of the suggestions I proposed in this book owing to its socio-economic, cultural and religious significance.

The discovery of a Neolithic cave painting at Laas Geel in 2002 near Hargeisa and other sites of similar nature and with similar themes has generated a new interest in Somali history, affording us a different perspective than the beaten paths of earlier writers and anthropologists.

Taking account of these new developments as well as a popular Somali myth, I am convinced that there is a strong link between ancient Egypt, Somalis and the northeastern part of the Somali territories. One of the many examples given in this book is about the similarities between Hathor, one of the most famous ancient Egyptian goddesses, and the Neolithic rock painting of Laas Geel, depicting personages worshipping cows, and most importantly between the popular Somali myth of a bull balancing the universe on its horns, on one hand, and a similar depiction of Hathor carrying a golden sun on its horns, on the other.

In my many visits to Laas Geel, that captivating and awe-inspiring site of ancient beauty and splendor, I used to gaze at the decorated cow, with the lyre shaped horns and plastron, with seemingly inviting udders, bursting and overflowing with milk. There is also always this personage standing either in front of the cow, visually seen dwarfed in stature, and sometimes placed between its fore and hind legs, with his arms spread high up over his head, as if in a state of supplication and thanksgiving. The human figures are intentionally reduced in stature against the towering body size of the cow.

This implies that these people, other than adorning their cows with painting and accessories, accorded great respect to these animals. The sight of the human figure attending to the cow painted on the many rock shelters, whom I later on called him ‘Sac-maale’ (literally: cow milker), echoed at me with a new meaning for the word ‘Somali’.

While cattle rearing was the backbone of the economy and livelihoods during those very distant times, it is evident that it also played a pivotal role in their religious beliefs. Therefore, Somalis were ‘Sac-maallo’ (cattle milkers) {sac-maal = singular}. Later on, however, the word may have taken a new form ‘Samaal’ resulting from an elision (shortening of the word) which is natural in the course of the development of a language. A remoter, but also likely, explanation can also result from the distorted voicing of the guttural ‘c’ by people from ethnic groups that have difficulty in properly pronouncing that letter. It is noteworthy that the first written record of the word Somali appeared in an Amharic victory song during King Negus Yeshek’s reign (1414-1429).

As evidenced by scores of cave paintings which mostly show bovines, it is believed that domestication of the camel was adopted as the utilization of bovines began to wane. The circumstances that led to the decline in the exclusive dependence on cattle (which provided both sustenance and spiritual fulfillment) and the adoption of the dromedary can be related to the combined effects of aridity, climate change, and the camel’s later prominence and centrality in the issue of life and death (diya paying) within Islam. Bulliet (1975), in his ‘the Camel and the Wheel’, argues that the dromedary was first (circa 3,000-2,500 BC) domesticated in Southern Arabia but later (circa 2,000 BC) crossed to the Horn of Africa. The discovery of camel painting in God Xardhane as well as other sites could shed more light on this issue.

The book also discusses the conflicting views and theories about the exact location of the Land of Punt. One of the most compelling revelations which emerged from my research, other than the spiritual connection mentioned earlier, which confirms the relationship between ancient Egypt and the ‘sacred land of God’, is today’s existence of a type of gum/incense (other than the popular Frankincense and Myrrh) which has been in use for over 2,000 years as recorded in the pages of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The Mocrotu incense that was collected from the mountains behind Mundus (Maydh) is today’s Murkud which is harvested from the Xiis tree (Pistacia aethiopica Kokwaro).

The physical features of the northeastern coast of modern day Somaliland and Puntland conform to the ‘frankincense terraces of Punt’ as these gum-bearing trees and shrubs are still found on terraced stands locally known as laag. According to N. F. Hepper of the Royal Botanical Gardens, quoted by Sayed Abdel Monem, a prominent Egyptian Egyptologist, the species of frankincense prevailing in these places are Boswellia carteri and Boswellia frereana which were found in Egyptian tombs. Boswellia frereana is restricted to and only found in those northeastern mountain ranges.

I devoted a segment of this book to the religions and cults that preceded the arrival and spread of Islam in the Somali territory. The past existence and traces of the cult of Waaq (Cushitic Sky God), Judaism and Christianity are also discussed in detail.

Because of the strategic location of eastern Horn of Africa, the easternmost tip in particular, the region has been a melting pot where races, cultures, commerce and ideas met, fused, merged, and most importantly left an indelible imprint on the racial makeup of the Somali people. For thousands of years, the Somalis traded with the outside world even though the glories of that past are exclusively credited to Arabs. However, an analysis of The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea portrays a different picture.

The market-towns along the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean were booming at the time of the Periplus and the actors were the people of ‘the Other Barbaria’ (Somalis) who were described as quarrelsome (the original Greek word for quarrelsome: sklêros means tough and shrewd traders).

Ibn Battuta, the famous Moroccan traveler and explorer described the inhabitants of Zeila (Saylac), the port town in the Gulf of Aden, as ‘black Berbers’ – another name for Somalis.

Such quarrelsomeness and aggressive nature of Somalis made their land inhospitable for any foreign people to colonize their country or monopolize their commerce as reported by Tuan Ch’eng Shih, the 9th century Chinese traveler who visited the land of Po-pa-li (commonly translated as Berbera/Somalis). It was only after Islam made the Somali temperament gentler and amiable that the Arabs, started settling in the market towns along the coast onwards from the 7th century A.D.

Henceforth, the Arabs took the lead in commercial activities since their stay was almost permanent compared to the transient stay of the Somalis in the coastal areas due to the seasonal and monsoonal dependant trade on one hand, and the hot weather conditions during summer times on the other.

The book also examines the controversy surrounding the confluence of most Somali geologies to eponyms that are traced back to Arabia and particularly to Ashrafs/Sayyids (descendants of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) son-in-law, Ali and his two sons Hassan and Hussain). The role of Sufi dariiqas in merging the biological and spiritual geologies (Silsilat-ul-baraka) and at the same time their fluidity to meet the ever-changing interests and alliances of the different clans in a harsh predominantly pastoral setting, which allows no room for the weak, cannot be overlooked.

This is in the true spirit of the Somali proverb “Ama buur ahow, ama buur ku tiirsanow” (Either be a mountain, or re-lean (for support) upon a mountain).

While many Somalis pride themselves on their Arab ancestry, there is a great dissimilarity between the two peoples in terms culture and customs, although such differences have been progressively narrowing during the past several decades. Some of the major factors that have contributed to the blending of the two cultures are, among other things, the prominence of Arabia as an oil-based economic power, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Somalia’s membership in the Arab League, the migrant Somali labor during oil boom, the wide popularity of Arab media among Somalis, and the role of Islamic movements in playing a pivotal role in facilitating the process.

To recap, the book looks into the following main topics:

a)Where does the name ‘Somali’ originate from?

b)Where and what is the origin of Somalis and what racial inter-marriages occurred?

c)Given the Somalis’ strategic location in the Horn of Africa, how does their long period of trading with the outside world affect their racial makeup?

d)What were the relations Somalis had with their neighbors?

e)What were the spiritual, commercial and linguistic relations between Somalis and ancient Egyptians?

f)The pre-Islamic religions such as the cult of Waaq, Judaism and Christianity.

g)The fluidity of the Somali genealogy, the role of Sufi dariiqas in influencing change and the reality about the claim of Arab ancestry.

h)The dissimilarity between Arabs and Somalis.

i)Ancient Somali civilizations and other topics

In conclusion, there have been no major developments in the written history related to the origin of Somalis for over half a century. Therefore, in the light of the recent archeological discoveries (rock paintings in particular) and scientific breakthroughs in the form of DNA analysis, there is a growing need to revisit and review the past history of the Somalis. Discussions on some of the issues contained in the book are continuously debated in many channels including public forums and social networking.

Moreover, even though the unstable situation in the region does not allow thorough archeological excavations to take place and the fact that many existing as well as potentially important sites are exposed to acts of vandalism and looting, I am hopeful that this book will spark a renewed enthusiasm in those interested in Somali history and encourage them to consider this issue from a new angle.

By Ahmed Ibrahim Awale

Source: Medishevalley

No comments: