Reader Contribution By Wahaaj

Garri Garrum

I would like to air my opinion with regards to this mystery surrounding the history of Garreh (I know you don’t like the spelling but give me a chance to explain it first). The identity of Garreh nation has been subject of controversies for a very long time and its time someone took the initiative to put this debate to rest. I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude to the author of this blog spot, Garri nation whose intelligence wowed me, just when i started to give up on the existence of the Garreh intelligentsia, I come across someone who is well versed in understanding the history of our people ( ka abeera kiya galat qabd). I also wish to acknowledge the input of Issack Adow although am not too sure I will agree with him but the information looks historically sensible to me the only thing he can do further is just to prove the hypothesis.

Once I was travelling with a friend of mine and while we are at the airport in the transit lounge conversing in Garreh language a woman came to us and started to make a conversation in language we later understood as Hausa of Nigeria. When we started to explain to her we don’t understand her language she said to us boldly ” I just heard you making conversation in Hausa” and we were like, no that is not Hausa its Garreh language the lady left us not convinced at all and later she came back and started talking to us in Hausa when we started laughing and totally flabbergasted by her words she believed us and said in English ” I would have sworn i heard you guys speaking Hausa”.

Coming back to the history of our nation it’s very important to understand who the Garrehs are. Many times people ask the wrong question like when they ask, Are Garrehs Oromo or Somali. The debate is everywhere especially in the diaspora and question sometimes is irritating not to mention the need for our community to solve this identity crisis. The Garrehs answered these questions in our oral tradition by statements like “Garri Garrum “or “keligiis bilisow”.

This statement explains why our people are so independent to the extent that they don’t need to affiliate themselves with any one. It’s very important to understand that Garrehs are independent nation that migrated from North Africa before the Christian era. The land of punt existed as mentioned in the bible portrays that people existed in Somalia then and this people happen to trade with the Egyptians and products like frankincense (lubaadin) and Myrrh (qumbi) whenever I thinks of this international trade I remember all my brothers who are doing business around the borders of the world Busia, Namanga, Moyale, Ndola, Juba, and Malaba. Name them you will find a Garreh man doing what his forefathers do best, trade. The reason why I excluded other Somalis from this history is very simple the fact that they all trace their lineage to the descendants of prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alleyhi wasallam) means their time line can only commence after the turmoil of the third caliph that led to many Arabian muslims to migrate to Africa and other world or when the swahabas conquered the red sea and fought the Berbers of north Africa. If you consider all the major clan of the Somalis except the Rahaweyn they claim their forefather is an Arab or specifically a Hashemite (Click Here for further detail). The fact that the horn of Africa existed prior to the start of the Islamic era is very evident in the historical archives as we have solomonic emperors in our neighbouring Abyssinia and not forgetting the Kush kingdom in Sudan prior to that and judging by the historical evolution of our people majority of them were just pastoralists all this time and they have no access to any form of interactions whatsoever with the outside world except the few who are merchants in the cities.

Garrehs became Somali clan

The Somalis started organizing themselves in to sultanate and dynasties as early 1000 AD where the likes of saad din 2 and fakrudiin manage to lead them form Muslim sultanates like awdal, ajuraan and others and in this time there were major conflicts with all the clans especially ajuraan who are said to be decimated during this time. The Garrehs are Somalis during this time I will give you a simple example, think of going backwards in tracing your fore fathers am sure all the grandfathers taught their children especially the first born  how to trace their lineage i.e.  Abtirsacha now when I do the abtirsacha I can go back may be up to 15 great grandfathers and guess what? Many of them are Somali names, and the last one always has a funny name! (Remember the last phrase lafti duuban danqara) And I have seen that with my friends too. Anyway if we do a simple back track to the original time line we can get up to may be 400-500 years same time as kedhiguuray ( the great trek). During this time the conflict were so serious and ruthless to the extent that many clans decided to migrate towards the west of Somalia in to now Kenya and Ethiopia. Among the clans that embarked on this trek are The Garrehs, Ajuraans, Dogodia, Rendille and the Gabras.

During this conflict all the oral tradition refers to the Garrehs leaders of the Garreh community as Aw which means mister or respectable title very common with Garrehs that affiliates with the May culture possibly the current Garre koofar. Aw abookar mashar, Aw Aliow Hache and the third one that I could not remember his name had special skills or powers so to speak that had resemblance of the then spiritual piousness that was very common with the Sufis. All this happened some 600 years ago and in this time according to the borana oral tradition the Garrehs crossed their boundary from the famous Dhadach waraab. Some Garrehs chose to remain in Somalia and became Garreh koofar while the others went ahead to liban (historically Garreh County in Kenya and liban zone of Ethiopia) and interacted with borans by supplying them  with the cloth loved by the borans (Abu jadi , andaar, guntiina and agoogo)  and in this time the social cohesion facilitated the Garrehs to learn borana language for communication purposes and over the years the amalgamation of the Garreh language mixed with boran is now afaan Garreh. (I will bring the clip of the Garre poets in future especially Bahar Abdo and Guraacho to prove my point. if you let a borana person to listen to it and ask him to translate I am 100% sure he will get 40% right). Try this “gaaf saala sirgigaae ini sariigti dhabe….” (Bahar Abdo rahmatullahi alleyhi) or Guraacho said “Ooro buburakhtu farso bubulgaatuu! Bokhondhaw jarsaf jaartiin isaaan farso beled keesat alpaat”.

The Borans traded with Garrehs by supplying coffees and cattle and ghees. During this interaction due to the cultural difference between the Garrehs who are muslims and the Borans who are pagans there were conflict between the two communities and a lot of war was fought over the years and also they were times of peace where many Borans converted in to muslims and peaceful coexistence materialized only to be exploited by the colonialist in the form of British or the Amharas.

In conclusion there is a major missing link to our history like the famous phrase lafti duuban danqara means there is a huge communication breakdown between the last great grandfather of this generation and the other older generation due to something that happened in the past that lead to this breakdown it can be war even famine the only factors that can make the ancient clans to migrate from their original homelands.

One thing I know for sure that Garrehs are independent African tribe that originated from either chad or Sudan but the missing link should be established. A lot of questions to be asked:

  1. Why is our language very familiar with languages in Nigeria and mali please listen to the songs By Ali Farkatoure of Mali. (You will be amazed by the similarities).
  2.  Why are the Somalis not convinced Garrehs identity as Somalis
  3. Why are the Oromos insisting on claiming Garrehs are oromos
  4. If you settle on saying we are Somalis what is our lineage?  Hawiye, Dir, Digil or Darood

As for now I will settle being Somali for now unless you get me the identity of those great grandfathers with funny names.


How Will You Be Remembered?

How often do you look back. Really reflect on what you’ve done. The insignificance of it all. Pointless arguments. Inside jokes. Funny haircuts. But do you ever wonder how you’ll be remembered. Or if what you’ve done and what you’re doing means anything at all. What would your song sound like when you’re dead and gone. Will tears fall when the last note is sung. And how will your story be told? Will your words leave a bitter taste in their mouths. Or will they even remember you at all. Compassion. The concept is rather simple. Most know what it means to be civil. But there truly is a fine line between sweet and sour. Give too much of yourself away and you’ll be all used up. Not enough and no one will be around to share this with. So what is it that motivates us to be better, gentler, more refined, I’d like to think it’s those close to us. Close to the heart and soul. those who carried you to the car after you puked on their shoes. Those who took the blame for breaking the window when it was you who cast the stone. Those who will be by your side when reality knocks on your door both good and bad. But more importantly those whose stories you will share with your kids and grand kids and their kid and their grand kids in hopes to somehow keep this all alive. shivery, decency, kindness, compassion, desire, strength. How will you be remembered?

The Shifta War

The complications in Garri identity have a lot to do with the documentation errors of historic accounts. One of the most inaccurately documented event in Garri history is The Shifta War which started in 1963 and continued into the early 1990s in the Northern Frontier District (NFD) of Kenya. In the essay “Pursuing Pastoralist”, author Hannah Whitaker from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, describes shifta as a term “associated with violence that combines partisan warfare with organized livestock stealing”. The Shifta War did in fact consist of organized livestock stealing which in turn escalated violence as well as banditry in the NFD. Historians and Politicians, intentionally and unintentionally avoid defining the real reason why these crimes took place and continually distort the image of the true participants in The Shifta War. The war was actually a conflict propagated by adherence to partisanship, even though most documentation advocate in such a way as to make it seem like a conflict between “Ethnic Somalis” residing in the NFD, against Kenya.

Somali leaders initiated a campaign to gain control over NFD as soon as they received independence and a border line in 1960. Dr. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarky, Somalia’s prime minister from 1960-1964, was one of the first Somali leaders to advocate for the campaign which called for integrating NFD into Somalia.

 No our misfortune is that our neighboring countries, with whom we seek to promote constructive and harmonious relations are not our neighbors but our Somali kinsmen whose citizenship has been falsified by indiscriminate boundary arrangements. They have to move across artificial frontiers to their pasture lands. They occupy the same terrain and pursue the same pastoral economy as ourselves. We speak the same language. We share the same God, the same culture, and the same traditions. How can we regard our brothers as foreigners. -Dr. Abdirashid Ali Sharmarky

Sharmarky refers to the residents of NFD as “Somali Kinsmen whose citizenship has been falsified by indiscriminate boundary arrangements”. Historically, the NFD region has been exclusively inhabited by ethnic Garris, and other Borana speaking people. The absurdity of the NFD campaign is apparent in Sharmarky’s claim that residents of NFD share the same language and tradition as Somalis. One who has been to the Northern Frontier District will actually find the opposite; the minority Somali tribes who live there must conform to the Garri language and culture in order to fit in. This campaign was clearly an effort to attain land rather than to reconnect with “kinsmen”.

Most assume that The Shifta War was a struggle for “ethnic Somalis” in the NFD who wanted to join their fellow Somalis. In reality, the conflict resulted from people revolting against the idea of integrating NFD with the Greater Somalia. A 68-year-old former NFD resident describes The Shifta War as a strife which elevated from two conflicting ideologies. “It is true that there were some people who wanted NFD to be part of Somalia”. Amongst other incentives that were part of the campaign, NFD residents were offered the promise of pastureland as well as a [Somalian] government that will back them up. There were those who were captivated by the offers, and they supported the campaign; but the majority of people were not lured by this.

Those who did not support the propaganda believed that the Somali leaders designed the campaign only to aim for their own national interest. They did not see a legitimate reason as to why NFD should integrate into Somali. The Garri speaking people of NFD have been residents of the Northern Kenya region for centuries, and did not feel the need for their land to merge into Greater Somalia. This opposing idea set the background for the emergence of violence and chaos of The Shifta War. The people who were being robbed, murdered and stolen from were all residents of NFD. Through this violence and chaos, Somalia failed to convince the natives of NFD to join Somalia. Surely, the Kenyan government was also not going to allow it to happen.

Kenya will never surrender an inch of her territory to anyone. – President Jomo Kenyatta

The error in documentation of The Shifta War has led for the world to believe that the Garri people in the Northern Frontier District are actually Kinsmen of Somalis. Majority of Garris do not support and have never encouraged the joining of their land into Somalia. Although Somali officials claim Garris to be their kinsmen at times when the agenda allows, this is only to fulfil national interest. The language and traditional barrier between Garris and Somalis is one thing that cannot be denied.

Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. – George Orwell

Garri Proverbs

Today Garri Nation hits the 1 year mark. Thank you to all the people who gave both positive and negative feedback. Your opinions, and contributions are very important whether you agree or disagree with the thesis of this blog. If  your question or concern hasn’t been addressed yet, don’t worry, it will be posted. It takes time to accurately research, and write the posts that deal with specific subjects. Your requested topic will be addressed as soon as possible.

For now, these are Garri Proverbs (Mahmahdi Afaan Garri), requested by a Garri Nation Youtube subscriber (MataDhiiraa). Check out his YouTube channel, he posts great old school music in the Garri language.

1. -“Raachi Uduu Qaba?” -“Ini Gaddeema, Atumaan Arg.”
-“Does the Frog have a butt?” -“The frog is coming, see it for yourself.”

2.  “Waan Bor Injirne, Jidduu, Ho Koche.”
“If It’s Not Happening Tomorrow, Don’t Worry, Have Some Meat.”

3. “Waan Bor Injirne, Boraat Iyyeesa.”
“That which does not happen tomorrow, is the pillow of an orphan.”

4. “Dokaat Gowwaaan Diraan Mullata.”
“The hiding of an idiot can be seen from miles away.”

5. “Loon Ollaa Keenna Cufti Keennuma. Keessa Keennuma Keenna.”
“All The Cattle of Our Village Belongs to All Of Us. Amongs Those Only The Ones That Belong to Us is Truly Ours.”

6. “Bool Qayaane In Qotin. Qottullee In Fageesin. Nam Kee Buhuu In Beekani.”
“Don’t Dig The Hole of Betrayal. If You Dig It, Don’t Make It Deep. You Never Know Who’s Going To Fall In.”

Reader Contributions By Issakadow Mohamed Sheikh

This is a contribution of thoughts from issakadow mohamed sheikh in response to a previous post:(

I am pleased to read about the many hypothesis made about the gare tribe. I am particularly impressed  by the writers effort in trying to explain this misunderstiood myth about the gares. Let me give you the little I managed to gather.

Long before the existence of the present day soomalia, who lived there then?

About 5th centrury , the phoenician king of Egypt ordered his subject to build a ship. He wanted to learn about the mysries of seas and whether truelly there is life/ other beings out there beyond his kingdom of Egypt. He ordered them sail off and bring back what they discovered.And so the phoenicians sailed down to the horn of African. They met people living in small kingdoms and who are so friendly. On there return they were given a baby giraffe as present for their king,. After several months they went back and told their king the  story. short while later the king sent off one bigger entrenge to eslablish business with this people. Then the  phoenicians intermarried with the local innhabitants………..who happens to be the gala/borana/oromo people. Their offspring were what became soomalis…………….hold your breath……dont be annoyed if you are soomali……what is soomali? while this people are leaving together, the Arabs came and asked, you are the phoenicians, and you are the Boranas, but who are this? meaning their offspring.They are the “soomal” answered the borans. Soomal in borana language means “light colour” in reference to the  camel…..camel colours in garess/borana language……arraw(red), borr(light black), filigi( white), sifdar(maroon), soomal(light white), and so the true meaning of the soomali. But my brother soomalis dont accept this…..they say soomali means go and milk….meeting a soomali in his herds of camel…you will definetely get freshhot milk…gererosity….yes but……… the histrory is beyond this.I will proof to you beyond doubt. Hold for more interesting proof……the language similarities of soomali, gare, borana, names of most places in soomalia are borana words…….even mogadishu…..meaning…moga aw dishu…the side of mzee dishu…..even mombasa……..means bombesa…….to kill and finish….the galas use to call it so because of the slave trade……..mona bombesa….the place where people are finished/killed……….oh the story is long…. I will continue next till I arrive at the Garess point. I had to begin with the very furthest to make it better instead of from the middle.  to be continued.

Think Different.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Somali Origin

I was at a grocery store one day, and I helped this older Somali lady pick up bottled water in a 24 pack. She then said to me “Caawo Wa Mawlidka Awowo Jabarti, Ma Imaanaysa?” which translates to “Tonight is prayer for “Grandfather Jabarti” will you be there?” I didn’t know what she was talking about so I said “no, I can’t” and left. A while after that I heard about this prayer again, and this time I asked who “Awowo Jabarti” was. Nobody gave me an answer. So I googled it and this is what I found.

To be “Somali” you have to fall under ONE of the five subgroups. I will explain why you can only be one of these.

  1. Darod
  2. Ishaaq
  3. Dir
  4. Hawiye
  5. Rahanweyn

Let’s start with Darod.  According to tradition, the father of the Darod clan is Abdirahman Bin Ismail Al-Jabarti (the lady was inviting me to a get together for his birthday?).  The tradition said he left the Arabian Peninsula because he got into an argument with his uncle. It is believed he settled in present day Somali around the 10th or 11th century. His tomb is in Haylaan in the Hidaaftimo Mountains in Northern Somalia.

Ishaaq believe they’re their own subgroup. It is said that they are descendants from Sheikh Ishaq Al Alawi Banu Hashmi. He came to present day Somalia around 10th or 11th century as well. He is buried in Maydh, in the Sanaag region of Northern Somalia. People celebrate his birthday on Thursdays.

The Dir clan are descents of Dir who is held to be the great-grandson of Ram Nag, an Arab, Indian, or Abyssinian immigrant who landed in Zeila in the Northwest Awdal region of Somalia. His daughter married Darod.

Hawiye clan are the descendents of a forefather named Hawiye Irrir. He is believed to be the great-grandson of Ram Nag and the brother of Dir.

The Rahanweyn clan are the largest group. They differentiate Somalis by the dialect. Those who say Mai Tirri are Rahanweyn and they speak Af May (May -May).  Those who say  Maxa Tirri are the other clans mentioned above and they speak standard Somali.

Some Garris at one point spoke a dialect close to May-May called Dowg-Dowg, and live in the same regions as Rahanweyn. It is common for some Garris to be considered Rahanweyn (Digil and Mirifle), But this relation is only regional and linguistic not biological.

Each time I read about Garri’s ethnicity I get more confused. Some people link Garris to Hawiye tribe of Somalia, some link them to Digil and Mirifle and more confusingly some people say the Quranyowa side of Garri are actually related to Dir clan of Somalia. -Hussain

All these connections are just links and have no basis. It is impossible for a person to have more than one father. If Garris were Somali they would be able to convey their ancestry back to ONE of the Somali subgroups. Our ancestry goes back to Tuuf and Quranyowa, and clearly Tuuf and Quranyowa do not come from the Somali groups. That is a fact whether it is recognized or not. Garris don’t have any of those traditions the Somali tribes have about Jabarti, Ishaq, Dir and so forth. But Garri people have The Kedh Gurrai which is the legend that explains where Tuuf and Quranyowa come from.