The Marehan (Somali: Mareexaan, Arabic: مريحان‎, Marehan bin Ahmed bin Abdirahman bin Is'mail bin Ibrahim al Jaberti) are a Somali clan. They are one of the major Darod sub-clans, forming a part of the Sade confederation of clans. The majority of the Marehan live in the Gedo region (gobolka) in southwestern Somalia, as well as the Galguduud and Mudug regions in central Somalia, the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, and the North Eastern Province of Kenya.


One of the earliest mentions of this Somali clan may be by the Jesuit Jerónimo Lobo, who attempted to enter Ethiopia by way of the Jubba River in 1624. He learned of an ethnic group known as the Maracatos, whom C.F. Beckingham identifies as the Marehan, and whom Lobo located in the approximate location of the Somali clan.[1]

Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Marehan were reported to have lived in an area that extended from Bender Ziyade on the Gulf of Aden to beyond Ras el-Khail on the Indian Ocean, or much of northern Somalia.[2] Marehan are recorded as having played a significant role in Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi's campaigns against Ethiopia during the 16th century. The commander of the Somali forces and the closest deputy of the Imam was a Marehan commander, Garad Ahmed bin Hirabu. The Marehan along with the Habar Makadi/Makadur of the Gadabuursi;[3][4][5] helped push westward the enemies into the plains of Harar and farther, helping destabilize the highland Christian empire. Evident in these battles were the Somali archers, namely the Marehan and the Gerri archers, through whom al-Ghazi was able to defeat the numerically superior Ethiopian Army that consisted of 16,000 cavalry and more than 200,000 infantry.[6]

As early as 1850, the Marehan were recorded moving into Jubaland. It was recorded that:

"To the east the Somalis were once more on the move. By 1850, one of the Darod Somali groups, the Marehan crossed the Juba in force. In 1865 they went on to break the Tana Galla [sic] and by 1880 had turned on the Boran. Pagan peoples in this region were now being dominated by Muslims, and peasants by nomads from the north."[7]


According to some authorities, the term 'Myrrh' might have been derived from the Somali clan Marehan (Murryhan - Mareexaan):

"On the hills and uplands the prevailing forms are gum-yielding acacias, mimosas, euphorbias, and the aromatic growths from which are obtained by the frankincense and myrrh of commerce, and for which the region, like the opposite coast of Arabia, has always been famous. Some authorities have even derived the word myrrh itself from the Marehan (properly Murreyhan) tribe, in whose territory it is obtained in the greatest perfection."[8][page needed]

Clan tree

There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. The following listing is taken from the World Bank's Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics from 2005 and the United Kingdom's Home Office publication, Somalia Assessment 2001.[9][10]

Incumbent 9th President of Somalia hails from the Marehan
  • Darod (Daarood)
    • (Sade) Marehan
      • Reer Diini
      • Hawraarsame
      • Reer Axmed
      • Talxe
      • Reer Xassan
      • Wagardhac

In the south central part of Somalia the World Bank shows the following clan tree:[11]

  • Darood
    • Kablalah
      • Koobe
      • Kumade
    • Isse
    • Sade
      • Mareehan
      • Facaye
    • Ortoble
    • Leelkase (Lelkase)

In Puntland the World Bank shows the following:[12]

  • Darod
    • Marehan
    • Awrtable
    • Lelkase


  1. ^ Jerónimo Lobo, The Itinerário of Jerónimo Lobo, translated by Donald M. Lockhart (London: Hakluyt Society, 1984), pp. 59,66
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 12 by James Hastings, ISBN 0-7661-3687-6, pp. 490
  3. ^ Pankhurst, Richard (1961-01-01). An introduction to the economic history of Ethiopia, from early times to 1800. Lalibela House. p. 175. 
  4. ^ ʻArabfaqīh, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Qādir (2003-01-01). The conquest of Abyssinia: 16th century. Probably the Habar Makadur , as a footnote [I.M. Lewis]. Tsehai Publishers & Distributors. p. 27. 
  5. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. The Gadabursi .There are two main fractions, the Habr Afan and Habr Makadur, formerly united under a common hereditary chief (ogaz). Red Sea Pr; Subsequent edition (August 1998): Red Sea Pr; Subsequent edition (August 1998). p. 25. ISBN 978-1569021040. 
  6. ^ Richard Pankhurst, An Introduction to the Economic History of Ethiopia, from Early Times to 1800
  7. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica Issue 1974
  8. ^ Encyclopedia: The Earth and Its Inhabitants: The Universal Geography
  9. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.55 Figure A-1
  10. ^ Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001, Annex B: Somali Clan Structure Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine., p. 43
  11. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.56 Figure A-2
  12. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.57 Figure A-3