World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Somali Studies

Article Id: WHEBN0022530912
Reproduction Date:

Title: Somali Studies  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Ahmed Ismail Samatar, Education in Somalia, Somali National Academy of Culture, African studies, History of Africa
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Somali Studies


The academic platform that would become Somali Studies has its formal origins with religious, linguistic and historical research done by 18th and 19th century Somali scholars, such as Uways al-Barawi and Shaykh Aidarus. However, Somalis since antiquity have exchanged ideas with polities in North Africa, West Asia, South Asia and as far as East Asia. Through early 20th century scholars like Osman Yusuf Kenadid and the polymath Musa Haji Ismail Galal, other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and archaeology would eventually form part of Somali Studies.

Kenadid published many works on various subjects related to Somali history and science, including textbooks on the Somali language, astronomy, geography and Somali philosophy. He borrowed significantly from the vast ancient Somali cultural repository, working towards a renaissance of this rich past.[2] Galal later documented the Somali astrological, meteorological and calendrical systems. He devoted two major works to traditional Somali science, The terminology and practice of Somali weather lore, astronomy, and astrology (1968) and Stars, seasons and weather in Somali pastoral traditions (1970), both of which are regarded as classics in Somali Studies.

Fields of study


Pioneering Somali Studies scholar, Osman Yusuf Kenadid.

One of the earliest examples of French explorer excavated several ancient sites in northern Somalia where he found large quantities of glass and pottery, including Roman pottery.[3] After independence, Somali government officials in collaboration with Soviet and British archaeologists began excavating various parts of Somalia during the 1970s.[4][5] In late 1975, Neville Chittick led a British-Somali archaeological expedition in the northern half of Somalia. Financed by the Somali authorities, the reconnaissance mission found numerous examples of historical artefacts and structures, including ancient coins, pottery, drystone buildings, cairns, mosques, walled enclosures, standing stones and platform monuments. Many of the finds were of pre-Islamic origin and associated with ancient settlements described by the 1st century Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, among other documents.[6]


Somali anthropology studies the way of life of the Somali people. Somalist anthropologists have in various books and papers documented traditional Somali social systems such as the ancient Xeer (customary law) and the clan system, and examined their role within Somali society. In the field of Somali Islamic studies, scholars like I.M. Lewis, Said Sheikh Samatar and Lee V. Cassanelli have written on the traditional Muslim structure of Somali society in books such as A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa (1961), Oral poetry and Somali nationalism: the case of Sayyid Mahammad 'Abdille Hasan (1982) and The Shaping of Somali Society: Reconstructing the History of a Pastoral People, 1600 to 1900 (1982).[7] Enrico Cerulli and Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi in their respective works Somalia: scritti vari editi ed inediti (1957) and Culture and Customs of Somalia (2001) have also summarized the origins and ethnogenesis of the Somali people.


In terms of linguistics, Somali Studies examines the inter-relationships between the Somali language and other related Afro-Asiatic languages. Somali is by far the best documented language from the Cushitic branch of Afro-Asiatic,[8] with academic studies of it dating from before 1900.[9] Linguists such as Bogumil Witalis Andrzejewski, Mohamed Diriye Abdullahi and Martin Orwin are considered among the foremost scholars on the study of the Somali language[10][11] and the relation it has to the tongues spoken by related neighboring ethnic groups, such as the Afars, Oromos and Bejas. Mustafa Abdulahi Feiruz also focuses on the Somali language's links with Arabic.[12]


Somali Studies scholar Cawo Mohamed Abdi.
The primary organization overseeing the field is the Somali Studies International Association.[13]


  • Bildhaan - an international journal of Somali Studies
  • Horn of Africa - an independent journal
  • Anglo-Somali Society Journal


Since its inaugural gathering in Mogadishu between July 6-13th, 1980, the International Congress of Somali Studies has been held to discuss developments in the field.[13] The 10th Congress was held in Djibouti City in December 2007. The triennial Somali Studies Conference also brings together some scholars and specialists in Somali Studies.

Award ceremonies

Since the early 1970s, the Academy of Somali Studies began to hold professional award-winning poetry competitions after having been inspired by the traditional poetry competitions annually held throughout Somalia. The Somali Studies Association recognizes Somali scholars whose work concerning Somali studies stands out with the Musa Galaal award, a prize named after the Somali polymath Musa Haji Ismail Galal. In 1994, Charles L. Geshekter, Professor of History at California State University, Chico, created an endowment for this award. Geshekter's mother and Musa Galaal (1914–1980) were friends. A financial prize is also awarded annually.

Prominent Somalist scholars

See also


  1. ^ Somali Studies, by Lidwien Kapteijns, 1994 pg 581 - The Journal of African History, Vol. 35, No. 3
  2. ^ Wasaaradda Warfaafinta iyo Hanuuninta Dadweynaha (1974). The Writing of the Somali Language. Ministry of Information and National Guidance. p. 5. 
  3. ^ Arab seafaring in the Indian Ocean in ancient and early medieval times By George Fadlo Hourani pg 138
  4. ^ Africa in Soviet studies - Page 280
  5. ^ Azania Volumes XI by British Institute in Eastern Africa - History - 1975 Page 117
  6. ^ Chittick, Neville (1975). An Archaeological Reconnaissance of the Horn: The British-Somali Expedition. pp. 117–133. 
  7. ^ (Review) Oral poetry and Somali nationalism: the case of Sayyid Mahammad 'Abdille Hasan (1982) by John William Johnson pg 601 - Research in African Literatures, 1984
  8. ^ Agaw, Cushitic and Afroasiatic: the personal pronoun revisited by DL Appleyard Journal of Semitic studies - Page 196
  9. ^ A software tool for research in linguistics and lexicography: Application to Somali
  10. ^ The Traveller to Legendary Lands WardheerNews interview with Shiela Andrzejewski
  11. ^ The Internet Medium and Poetry Transmission by Abdisalam M. Issa-Salwe
  12. ^ Somali Studies International Congress - Djibouti- Phase II - December 13th, 14th, 15th 2007
  13. ^ a b Somali Studies International Association, Proceedings of the 1st International Congress of Somali Studies: held in Mogadishu, Somalia, 6–13 July 1980 : papers received, 20 January 1982, (Scholars Press: 1992)


  • Proceedings of the First International Congress of Somali Studies, edited by Adam M. Hussein and Charles L. Geshekter. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992.
  • Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Somali Studies by T. Labahn, 1984
  • Somali Studies: Land of the People by Anita Suleiman, 1991

External links

  • Bildhaan: An International Journal of Somali Studies
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.