The Dir (Somali: Dir, Dirweyn, Direed or Beesha Direed, Arabic: در , قبيلة در , بنو در , قبيلة أبوكار , بنو أبوكار‎, Abukar) is a major and one of the noble Somali clan families. Its members inhabit northwestern Somalia, Ethiopia (Somali, Oromia and Afar regions), and northeastern Kenya (North Eastern Province).[1][2][3][4]


The Dir clan is one of the oldest clans in the Horn of Africa and the oldest clan among the Somalis.[5] [6][7][8] They are also one of the few Somali clans who have retained their ancient Cushitic culture[9]. According to Somali history, two of the oldest monarchies in the region, the Ifat and Adal Sultanates, were dominated by Dir.[10]

The early Adal Kingdom (9th century to 13th century) was an exclusive Dir Kingdom with its capital being Zeila.[11] In the 10th century, the Jarso clan a sub-division of Dir established the Dawaro Sultanate centred in Hararghe Highlands.

The Dir-Madaxweyne Akisho, along with the Gurgura, Issa and Gadabuursi subclans of the Dir represent the most native and indigenous Somali tribes in Harar.[12][13][14]

Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn is believed to be born in Zeila during the early Adal Kingdom period which he associated with. Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn is a very famous Somali saint figure.[15] He is believed to be the founder and ancestor of the royal family known as Walashma Dynasty that governed both Ifat Sultanate and Adal Sultanate during the middle ages.[16][17] Shiekh Abi-Bakr Al Alawi, a Harari historian, states in his book that that Yusuf bin Ahmad al-Kawneyn was of native and local Dir clan extraction.[18]

The city Dire Dawa was originally called Dir Dhabe and used to be part of Adal Sultanate during the medieval times and was exclusively settled by Dir which is a major Somali tribe and after the weakening of Adal Sultanate, the Oromos took advantage and were able to penetrate through the city and settle into these areas and also assimilate some of the local Gurgura clan.[19]

The Dir clan used to be the predominant inhabitants of Hararghe Highlands in the medieval times until the weakening of Adal Sultanate the opportunist Oromos took advantage of the crippling state and decided to invade and occuppy the Haraghe Highlands and assimilate the local native Somali population which were Jarso, Akisho, Gurgura, Nole, Metta, Oborra and Bursuk who were all sub-clans of Dir a major Somali tribe and were later confederated into Oromo tribe, the Afran Qallo clan.

The Somalis, principally the Dir clan used to inhabit the Awash River. The Afars were mostly concentrated in the Red Sea and the Lake Abbe while Somalis during the medieval times inhabited Awash river which was back then called "Webiga Dir" named after its tribe. After the weakening of Adal Sultanate, the Somalis left Awash river and allowed Afars to settle in Awash river to serve as a buffer zone between the Somalis and Abyssinians.[20]

The Dir were supporters of Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrahim al-Ghazi during his 16th century conquest of Abyssinia; especially the Gurgura, Issa, Bursuk and Gadabuursi.[21] In his medieval Futuh Al-Habash documenting this campaign, the chronicler Shihāb al-Dīn indicates that thousands of Dir soldiers took part in Imam Ahmad's Adal Sultanate army.[22]

The Dir clan also led a revolt against the Italians during the colonial period. This revolt was mainly led by the Biimaal section of the Dir. The Biimaal clan is widely known for leading a resistance against the colonials in southern Somalia.The Biimaal violently resisted the imposition of colonialism and fought against the Italian colonialists of Italian Somaliland in a twenty-year war known as the Biimaal revolt in which many of their warriors assassinated several Italian governors. This revolt can be compared to the war of the Mad Mullah in northern Somalia.[23][24][25] The Biimaal mainly lives in Southern Somalia, the Somali region of Ethiopia, which their Gaadsen sub-clan mainly inhabits and in the NEP region of Kenya.[26][27] The Biimaal are pastoralists. They were also successful merchants and traders in the 19th century.[28] In the 19th century they have engaged in multiple wars with the Geledi clan, which they were victorious in.[28][25]


I.M. Lewis and many sources maintain that the Dir together with the Hawiye trace ancestry through Irir son of Samaale to Banu Hashim Arabian origins with Aqeel Abu Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib.[29][30][31][32][33] Dir is regarded as the father-in-law of Darod, the progenitor of the Darod clan[34] Although some sources state it was the daughter of Hawiye who Darod married.[35][36][37]

Dir clan lineages:

According to others, Dir had a fifth son, Qaldho Dir.

DNA analysis of Dir clan members inhabiting Djibouti found that all of the individuals belonged to the Y-DNA T1 paternal haplogroup.[38]


The main sub-clans of the Dir today are the

Political groups

Political groups associated with the Dir clans include the following groups in Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia:

Clan tree

The following list is based on Nuova Antologia (1890),[48] I.M. Lewis's book People of the Horn of Africa,[39] and a paper published in March 2002 by Ambroso Guido: Clanship, Conflict and Refugees: An Introduction to Somalis in the Horn of Africa.[49]

Notable Dir Figures

Historical publications

  • Bughyaat al-amaal fii taariikh as-Soomaal, published in Mogadishu, Shariif 'Aydaruus Shariif 'Ali
  • Political History of Lower Shabelle, Dr. Mohamed Abukar Mahad (Gaetano)

See also


  1. ^ Ambroso, Guido (March 2002). "Clanship, Conflict and Refugees: An Introduction to Somalis in the Horn of Africa" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 7 February 2017. 
  2. ^ Ojielo, Ozzonia (May 2010). "Dynamics and Trends of Conflict in Greater Mandera" (PDF). undp.org. UNDP Kenya. p. 7. Retrieved 7 February 2017. Garre live in Southern Somalia, North Eastern Kenya and Southern Ethiopia. In Southern Somalia, they live in Kofur near Mogadishu and El Wak District in Gedo Province. In Ethiopia, they live in Moyale, Hudet and Woreda of Liban zone. In Kenya, the Garre inhabit Wajir North and Moyale. 
  3. ^ a b Hayward, R.J.; Lewis, I.M. (2005-08-17). Voice and Power. Routledge. p. 242. ISBN 9781135751753. 
  4. ^ a b Ozzonia (2010), page 7. The Quranyo section of the Garre claim descent from Dirr, who are born of the Irrir Samal.
  5. ^ Ethnographic Survey of Africa, Volume 5, Issue 1. International African Institute. 1969. p. 17. Retrieved 15 February 2018. 
  6. ^ Lewis, I. M. (2017-02-03). Peoples of the Horn of Africa (Somali, Afar and Saho): North Eastern Africa. Routledge. ISBN 9781315308173. 
  7. ^ Elfasi, M.; Hrbek, Ivan; Africa, Unesco International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of (1988). Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century. UNESCO. ISBN 9789231017094. 
  8. ^ Hicks, Esther (2018-01-16). Infibulation: Female Mutilation in Islamic Northeastern Africa. Routledge. ISBN 9781351294508. 
  9. ^ Ahmed, Akbar S. (2013-10-16). Islam in Tribal Societies: From the Atlas to the Indus. Routledge. ISBN 9781134565276. 
  10. ^ Futūḥ al-Ḥabasha. (n.d.). Christian-Muslim Relations 1500 - 1900. doi:10.1163/2451-9537_cmrii_com_26077
  11. ^ Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 25. Americana Corporation. 1965. p. 255. 
  12. ^ Slikkerveer (2013-10-28). Plural Medical Systems In The Horn Of Africa: The Legacy Of Sheikh Hippocrates. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9781136143304. 
  13. ^ Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society. p. 100. 
  14. ^ A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa. 
  15. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998). "Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society", The Red Sea Press, Retrieved on 22 September 2015.
  16. ^ Lewis, I. M (1998). Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society. The Red Sea Press. p. 89. 
  17. ^ Nehemia Levtzion; Randall Pouwels (Mar 31, 2000). The History of Islam in Africa. Ohio University Press. p. 242. Aw Barkhadle, is the founder and ancestor of the Walashma dynasty 
  18. ^ Quath, Faati (1957). Islam Walbaasha Cabra Taarikh [Islam and Abyssinia throughout history] (in Arabic). Cairo,Egypt. 
  19. ^ ʻArabfaqīh, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir (2003-01-01). The conquest of Abyssinia: 16th century. Annotation: Dir, According to Huntingford a settlement which may be modern Dire Dawa. Tsehai Publishers & Distributors. p. 24. 
  20. ^ ʻArabfaqīh, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir (2003-01-01). The conquest of Abyssinia: 16th century. Hollywood: Tsehai Publishers & Distributors. p. 124. ISBN 0-9723172-6-0. 
  21. ^ Sihab ad-Din Ahmad bin'Abd al-Qader, Futuh al-Habasa: The conquest of Ethiopia, translated by Paul Lester Stenhouse with annotations by Richard Pankhurst (Hollywood: Tsehai, 2003), pp. 50, 76
  22. ^ Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir ʻArabfaqīh, Translated by Paul Stenhouse, Richard Pankhurst (2003). The conquest of Abyssinia: 16th century. Tsehai Publishers & Distributors. p. 77. 
  23. ^ Ciisa-Salwe, Cabdisalaam M. (1996-01-01). The collapse of the Somali state: the impact of the colonial legacy. HAAN. p. 19. ISBN 9781874209270. 
  24. ^ Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye (2001-01-01). Culture and Customs of Somalia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 23. ISBN 9780313313332. 
  25. ^ a b Kariye, Badal (2010-07-23). The Kaleidoscopic Lover: The Civil War in the Horn of Africa & My Itinerary for a Peaceful Lover. Author House. p. 83. ISBN 9781452004648. Twenty year war 
  26. ^ Schlee, Günther (1989-01-01). Identities on the Move: Clanship and Pastoralism in Northern Kenya. Manchester University Press. pp. 107, 108, 275 and 99. ISBN 9780719030109. Biimal 
  27. ^ Kefale, Asnake (2013-07-31). Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia: A Comparative Regional Study. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9781135017989. gadsan 
  28. ^ a b Olson, James Stuart (1996-01-01). The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 97. ISBN 9780313279188. 
  29. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995). The Invention of Somalia. Lawrenceville, NJ: The Red Sea Press Inc. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-932415-98-1. 
  30. ^ Lewis, Ioan. M. (1994). Blood and Bone: The Call of Kinship in Somali Society. Lawrenceville, NJ: The Red Sea Press Inc. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-932415-92-9. 
  31. ^ Lewis, I.M. (2008). Understanding Somali and Somaliland Society: Culture History and Society. Hurst. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-85065-898-6. 
  32. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998-01-01). Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society. The Red Sea Press. p. 99-Chapter 8. ISBN 9781569021033. 
  33. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995-01-01). The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780932415998. 
  34. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 71. ISBN 9780810866041. 
  35. ^ Burton, Sir Richard Francis; Burton, Lady Isabel. The Works of Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: First footsteps in East Africa. Tylston & Edwards. p. 74. where he married a daughter of the Hawiyah tribe: rival races declare him to have been a Galla slave 
  36. ^ Journal of the East Africa and Uganda Natural History Society. Longmans, Green. 1921-01-01. p. 54. was shipwrecked on the Somali coast where he married a Hawiyah woman 
  37. ^ Burton, Richard Francis (1856-01-01). First Footsteps in East Africa. Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans. p. 104. where he married a daughter of the Hawiyah tribe 
  38. ^ Iacovacci, Giuseppe; et al. (2017). "Forensic data and microvariant sequence characterization of 27 Y-STR loci analyzed in four Eastern African countries". Forensic Science International: Genetics. 27: 123–131. doi:10.1016/j.fsigen.2016.12.015. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  39. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Lewis, I.M. (1998-01-01). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. Red Sea Press. ISBN 9781569021057. At the end of the book "Tribal Distribution of Somali Afar and Saho" 
  40. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995-01-01). The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780932415998. 
  41. ^ Cite error: The named reference autogenerated1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  42. ^ Africa Confidential. Miramoor Publications Limited. 1994-01-01. p. 17. 
  43. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995-01-01). The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780932415998. 
  44. ^ Verdier, Isabelle (1997-05-31). Ethiopia: the top 100 people. Indigo Publications. p. 13. ISBN 9782905760128. 
  45. ^ Regional & Federal Studies. Volume 24, Issue 5, 2014. Special Issue: Federalism and Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ethnic Decentralization and the Challenges of Inclusive Governance in Multiethnic Cities: The Case of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
  46. ^ "Alert Series - Somalia, Things Fall Apart 1993" (PDF). hrlibrary.umn.edu. Retrieved 25 September 2015. 
  47. ^ "SDA (Gadabursi)" http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/ins/somala93.pdf
  48. ^ a b Protonotari, Francesco (1890-01-01). Nuova Antologia (in Italian). Direzione della Nuova Antologia. p. 343. 
  49. ^ Ambroso (2002), page 6 and clan tables after page 64.
  50. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998-01-01). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. Red Sea Press. p. 25. ISBN 9781569021057. 
  51. ^ Abdullahi, p. 172.
  52. ^ Johnson, p. xv.
  53. ^ Phillips, Sarah. Developmental Leadership Program – Policy and Practice for Developmental Leaders, Elites and Coalitions Political Settlements and State Formation: The Case of Somaliland University of Sydney, December 2013, page 9.
  54. ^ The Indian Ocean Newsletter — PM Desalegn picks his candidate to head IGAD "Abdirahman Duale Beyle, a former Somali Foreign Minister" "an economist who hails from the Gadabursi community."
  55. ^ "Vice President Saylici (whose Gadabursi)"
  56. ^ "Nominated Ministers and Their Clans". Goobjoog. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015. 
  57. ^ ʻArabfaqīh, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir (2003-01-01). The conquest of Abyssinia: 16th century. The Habar Makadur, underneath the page as a note [I.M. Lewis] by Richard Pankhurst. Tsehai Publishers & Distributors. p. 27. 
  58. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. The Gadabursi. Red Sea Pr; Subsequent edition (August 1998): Red Sea Pr; Subsequent edition (August 1998). p. 25. ISBN 978-1569021040. There are two main fractions, the Habr Afan and Habr Makadur, formerly united under a common hereditary chief (ogaz). 
  59. ^ page 210
  60. ^ geeskadmin (2014-12-10). "Kenya: Ethiopia Replaced Ambassador Shemsedin Ahmed for security reasons - Geeska Afrika Online". Retrieved 2016-08-18. 
  61. ^ Untitled "Mawlid Hayir Hassan, Regional Vice president," page 27.
  62. ^ The Indian Ocean Newsletter — Rise of SPDP in Addis gives green light for internal purge ""including the Vice President of SNRS, Mawlid Hayir."
  63. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780810866041. Sheikh Abdi Abitkar “Gaafle” 
  64. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1958-01-01). "The Gadabuursi Somali Script". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 21 (1/3): 134–156. doi:10.1017/s0041977x00063278. JSTOR 610496. 
  65. ^ Rayne, Henry a (2015-08-08). Sun, Sand and Somals; Leaves from the Note-Book of a District Commissioner in British Somaliland. BiblioLife. ISBN 9781297569760. 
  66. ^ Farah, Rachad (2013-09-01). Un embajador en el centro de los acontecimientos (in Spanish). Editions L'Harmattan. p. 17. ISBN 9782336321356. 
  67. ^ As indicated in Morin (2005:640) the name of “Cote francaise des Somalis” itself is said to have been proposed by hağği Diideh (Mahad-Ase clan of Gedebursi. He was Prosperous merchant of Zayla who built the first Mosque in Djibouti Ğami ar-Rahma in 1891) to the French administration in imitation of British Somaliland, page 92
  68. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780810866041. 
  69. ^ Yussur Abrar (Dir/Gadabursi), who hails from Borama in Somaliland