The Rahaweyn (Somali Maay: Reewing; traditional Somali: Raxaweyn, Arabic: رحنوين‎) is a Somali clan, composed of two major sub-clans, the Digil and the Mirifle.[1] and is one of the five major Somali clans residing in the Horn of Africa.


The Digil sub-clan mainly consists of farmers and coastal people, while the Mirifle are predominantly nomadic pastoralists.

According to the Rahanweyn, Somalis are linguistically grouped into Mai Terreh and Maxaa Tiri. The speakers of Mai Terreh (also known as Mai-Mai or Af-Maay) are the Rahanweyn, while the speakers of Maxaa Tiri (i.e. Standard Somali) belong to other clans (Darod, Dir, Hawiye and Isaaq).


The Digil and Mirifle are mainly concentrated in southern Somalia, including Mogadishu, Upper Juba (Gedo, Bay, Bakool, most parts of Middle Juba) and Lower Shebelle. They are also found in the Somali Region of Ethiopia and the North Eastern Province of Kenya.


The Rahanweyn clan were mentioned as the people of Reewing who lived in the fertile lands and coastal provinces and were very wealthy and powerful people during the antiquity period in southern Somalia. They were said to be a sub group of Barbara or Barbaroi people ancestors of the Somali people.

Along with Hawiye, Rahanweyn clan also came under the Ajuran Empire control in the 13th century that governed much of southern Somalia and eastern Ethiopia, with its domain extending from Hobyo in the north, to Qelafo in the west, to Kismayo in the south.[2]

At the end of the 17th century, the Ajuran Sultanate was on its decline, and various vassals were now breaking free or being absorbed by new Somali powers. One of these powers was the Geledi Sultanate who was established by Ibrahim Adeer, who was an Ajuran general at that time, successfully pushed back the imperial Ajuran army out of Afgooye. He subsequently established the Geledi sultanates ruling house, the Gobroon dynasty, after having first defeated the Ajuran vassal state, the Silcis Kingdom.

Geledi Sultanate was a Rahanweyn Kingdom ruled by the noble Geledi clan which controlled the entire Jubba River and extending parts of Shebelle River and dominating the East African trade. The Geledi Sultanate had enough power to force the southern Arabians to pay tribute to the noble Geledi Rulers like Ahmed Yusuf (Gobroon).[3]

The Geledi Sultanate was eventually incorporated into Italian Somaliland Protectorate in 1908 by the Geledi ruler: Osman Ahmed who signed multiple treaties with the Italian colonials and the Kingdom ended ended with the death of Osman Ahmed in 1910.[4]

At the turn of 1991 when the Somali central government collapsed, the Rahanweyn clan formed their own autonomous state known as South West State of Somalia which was able to establish its own government, economy, army and flag. The Southwest state was able to successfully keep the stability in southern Somalia.[5][6]

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.[7][8]

    • Digil
      • Geledi
      • Begedi
      • Garre
      • Dabarre
      • Tunni
      • Jiddu
    • Mirifle
      • Sagaal
        • Jilible
        • Baroosile
        • Geeladle
        • Luwaay
        • Hadame
      • Sideed
        • Harin
        • Eelay
        • Jiron
        • Naasiye
        • Leyasan

In the south central part of Somalia the World Bank shows the following clan tree:[9]

  • Rahaweyn
    • Digil
      • Geledi
      • Garre
      • Jiddo
      • Begedi
      • Shanta-Alen

Christian Bader lists the principal Digil and Rahaweyn subclans as follows:[10]

  • Sab
    • Amarre
      • Daysame
        • Digil
          • Maad
            • Rahaweyn
              • Jambaluul
              • Midhifle
              • Begedi
              • Aleemo
            • Maatay
              • Irroole
              • Dabarre
            • 'Ali Jiiddu
            • Dubdheere
              • Waraasiile
              • Tikeme
            • Duubo
            • Digiine
            • Iise Tunni

Notable Rahanweyn people

See also


  1. ^ HAAN Associates, p. 260
  2. ^ Lee V. Cassanelli, The shaping of Somali society: reconstructing the history of a pastoral people, 1600-1900, (University of Pennsylvania Press: 1982), p.102.
  3. ^ Luling (2002), p.272.
  4. ^ Historical Dictionary of Somalia. p. 210. Retrieved 2014-02-15. 
  5. ^ "SOMALIA: RRA sets up autonomous region". IRIN. 1 April 2002. Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  6. ^ "Third autonomous region breaks with Somalia". Afrol News. 2 March 2002. Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  7. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.55 Figure A-1
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.56 Figure A-2
  10. ^ Bader, Christian (1999). "Genealogies Somali". Le sang et le lait: brève histoire des clans somali [Blood and milk: A brief history of the Somali clans] (in French). Paris: 9782706813733. p. 246. ISBN 2706813733. Retrieved 2010-03-09.