Somaliland: Challenges of Tribalism in our Country


tirbalismddA tribe is a group of people who have a common origin, language, culture and sometimes geographical area. Tribalism is the selfish exercise of this commonness to deny or deprive others who are not of the same tribe of their rights and access to opportunities and resources in order.It is the act of privileging those from one’s tribe be it in social, public or economic decisions and discriminating against all others solely on the ground of their clans.

It retards the progress and drags the country back and divides the people within the country into smaller groups who compete nearly for everything including resources, lands and opportunities. Tribalism is   responsible for underdevelopment, corruption, the rigging of elections and violence.

In Somaliland context, it is indeed a major stumbling block to democracy as well as socioeconomic development because people in Somaliland see reality through the filter of Tribalism and sometimes, it happens that   loyalty to tribe is given ever greater relevance than loyalty to the country. The problem of tribalism has even extended to the private sector and community foundations. People are recruited on the basis of clan affiliations but not on the merit ensuing poor service, inefficiency and in return for weakening institutions. It is not bad to be from one tribe because we all belong to a tribe or another in Somaliland and we should be proud of that tribal diversity.


The problem arises when our tribal identity becomes the basis of our association and decision-making. Tribalism is bad when people in power prefer to enroll their departments with fellow tribesmen, and is equally hurting when matters of promotion and transfers and other management issues are heavily influenced by tribe. Colonialism is cited as the origin of the escalation of tribal animosity in Somaliland and Politics has also been blamed for distortion of the differences amongst us for selfish gain. In the present day Somaliland, even though the government made legal that political parties should represent people from all corners of the country, they seem to be seen as tribal outfits for political muscle. Whereas good politics is characterized by healthy competition based on ideology, tribal politics is not based on merit and democracy has suffered greatly. The negative aspects of tribalism will remain until we reverse the trend towards a merit or a quota system whereby all institutions, both public and private treat the people as equal citizens where your success depends exclusively onpersonal merit.


Some people argue that tribe if it used positively is powerful and can be used as a network to defend the weak parts of society and the most vulnerable groups within the kin group and furthermore governments can utilize it as a power to advance peace and discourage all sorts of aggression that is posing a threat to national security and through tribe, we can establish and run schools and hospitals in the distant regions of the rural area where governments cannot pass because of scarce and critical imagination.


Moreover, the people of Somaliland are equal before the law and constitution whoever and from wherever in Somaliland such as Sool, Sanag and Awdal have the right to govern in this country since this country is inclusive and is not exclusive for certain people.

Therefore, if one is determined to rule in this country; He or She must earn that the paradises of politics lie under the multitude of all regions failure to acquire them all or partially would lead you to disappointment. Tribalism is active and continues to stay so unless and until the president decides to carry out a novel scheme that boosts the positive aspects of the tribe and removes the evils of nepotism.

It appears that the current president is the most appropriate to produce the necessary changes regarding tribalism that we desire to go on in this state. Unfortunately, he has not been able to get collaboration needed from politicians within and outside of his party in parliamentary procedure to get rid of the threat associated with tribalism while politicians in this nation are busy in airing never-ending challenge for the President to prevent him in practicing his work more efficiently


I strongly think that the majority of Somalilanders is in the same boat regardless of their geographic backgrounds, they are all in need of peace and bread with dignity. We, the Somalilanders should always have in mind that the most significant thing is to preserve the public security and integrity of our masses and bringing our nation ahead.

Therefore, we need to wipe out this evil and make the country for all Somalilander


Abdirahman Ibrahim Abdilahi











  1. Somaliland is at cross road not because of tribalism but as a result of disastrous leadership of president Sillanyo, he has turn out to be a despot, like siad barre he has introduced the concept of the family & clan kitchen cabinet into the political life of Somaliland. So the article ignores the real problem facing the country.

    • You got that right bro. He almost destroyed SNM mercilessly when we were all suffering in the wilderness. bloody insensitive dictator, but the problem is that there are a people like this writer who never get to the point. They always dance around trying to fool others into believing that they are loyal to the country and the nation when in reality they’re just selfishly collecting their loot, no more no less!!!

  2. Your comparison of Silanyo with Siyad Barre is a little far-fetched and your talk about clan cabintes is patently ludicrous. However I agree with you he has not turned out to be the leader the nation needed at this juncture in its history. He is just a politician. Quite a good one as it happens actually given his numerous achievements; but a politician nonetheless. A leader would’ve had the courage to appoint a non-clan based cabinet when he took power 4 years ago. Somalilanders, a despicable collection of clans, would’ve screamed and screeched and accused him of all things and threatened hellfire on his old head but they would’ve eventually settled down. They always do. And he would’ve gained their respect. Instead he decided to go with the grain of the dishonourable clan system and guess what? The despicables screamed and screeched and threatened hellfire anyway. And he did not gain their respect. Compare this to Siyad Bare who was a leader. He did not give an inch to Somaliland clans and did absolutely anything he wanted and they did not so much as breathe a word against him. They feared and respected him. Silanyo cant berhave like Siyad because he is a democrat but he can be a leader if he chooses to. So far there is no sign of that

    • Dheeg,
      You are still the one that I knew, still arguing that Siilaanyo is a leader who has not lost his way but rather a politician who has made many achievements. Your problem is that you never seem to understand that “people building is more important than nation building?.” Siilaanyo has painted some buildings but he failed to bulid the nation itself.

      • I think you may have misinterpreted what I said. I did not say he is a great leader – he clearly is not that. I did say he has many achievements and i sugest to you they are more substantive than sticking a lick of paint on public buildings, important though that is. You may recall the spark that ignited our revolt against siyad Barre was an attempt to put a lick of paint on Hargeisa General. Clean streets and painted hospital roofs are often the first signs of competent governance. So dont underestinmate the small detail Mr Kuluc.
        Now here are Silanyo’s undeniable achievements so far. Massive increase in primary school numbers, the spread of Somaliland currency to Burao and beyond, the expanding of Somaliland authority to the far east as far Las Qoray, the control of inflation, convicing of Britian and Denmark to directly fund Somaliland for the first time, huge expansion of the roads network, refurbishment of airports, establishing the armed forces ranking system, the clan ‘swapping’ of the regional governorships, the establsihment of the constitutional three party system through largely peaceful elections… The list goes on. Quite remarkable really. Now if he pulls off the deal with Genel or Bollore…that’ll change the destiny of Somaliland forever.
        Petty people with petty clan hatreds are hobbling this active little old over-achiever all the time because they are too..small-minded to see beyond the adolesecent clan-hate fog obscuring their vision beyond the horizon. Some growing up urgently required

        • Clan swapping ha? That reminds me of the late Egal. Xul ma tihide xal baad tahay. My friend Dheeq, I am really not a clannist, and i advocate great leadership for the nation, but i see all these so called achievements are too basic, given the high, unproportionate taxation in the country. Even if you take a good look at Hargeisa airport you will simply find out, that it wasn’t built with a view to Enhancing our country’s image, because its lacking the basic services like service screens, ruppish bins, trained and dedicated stuffing and so on. If we want to talk about it the list will get too long and we are not here to bore you with it. The important thing is that, a leader should be responsible for the wellbeing of each and every Somalilander in the country. That means he should feed our orphaned and our poor people endured suffering for so long instead of sucking their blood. What about the freedom of expression? a free nation should be allowed to express themselves freely. Under estimating the small details ha? Are you forgotten that it’s been 24yrs now since we gained the freedom and returned home? Let me tell you pal 24 yrs is a life time and the whole country could have been built to perfection. See what’s happening in our country now, we lost the campus, that we see nobody respecting no body and tribalism is even made worse.

          • Brother Mo I have been to Egal Airport and it is not peferfect but it has dramatically improved. I disagree with you that spreading SL currency to the Eastern regions and the expansion of road network and the Presidential visit to Las Qoray are ‘small things’. I also diasgree with you Silanyo is a vampire sucking the blood of the orphans! Gosh Mo why do we have to use such unbridled strong language all the time?
            He has failures and the media is one such failure. His regime is medieval when it comes to modern media. It is a national scandal that the government does not run a single working website, Facebook page or a twitter account. It is detrimental to the national cause. His other failure was accepting to talk to Somalila without AU auspices. How can he trust these guys who have been raping and looiting and lying and causing famines and misery to their own people for 30 years? He has been truly naive and weak on this.
            As for freedom of speech Somaliland has not only freedom of speech but an anarchy of freedom. Ill-trained journos throw about ill-founded accusations(a bit like you Bro Mo..about the orphans…) without observing the most basic tenets of journalism like second sourcing, right to reply and evidence-based journalism. Silanyo’s flunkeys get mad by the crazy insults and lash out at them. Again, this is entirely Sinalyo’s failure. He should have put in a place a Media Bill which forces journalist to have at least six months of training and a depost against Libelling before they can set up media outlets. altenatively his flunkeys could grow thicker skins and ignore the insults. They do neither and the bad publicity created as a result of arresing media bods and mistreating them harms the national cause. Bro Mo it is cruel to say Silanyo is not feeding and clothing all citizens. Bro he does not have the means. We are desperately poor and despised by the world hellbent on smothering us to death. I haver littel doubt Silanyo would feed all if had the means

  3. I agree that clannism is a problem in Somaliland. But it is not existential threat. We know how to manage it and manipulate it and compromise with it. It is primitive and backward social system but it is ours – we’ve always owned it. The real existential threat, apart from the obvious one coming from Somalia supported by the West and hellbent on embracing us back into its genocidal bosom, our existence as a nation faces more serious threat from Salafism than it does from clannims. If clannsim is ours, Salafism most certainly is not. It is killing everything we held dear for centuries: our pride, our free-thinking madness, our wild spirit, our creativity, our music, our singing and dancing and poetry. It is taking away our very identity. It will soon defeat clannism too. Is that a prize worth paying? Give me clan warfare anyday.


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