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

(در (النبيلة
Regions with significant populations
Islam (Sunni)
Related ethnic groups
Isaaq, Darod, Hawiye, Rahanweyn and other Somali people


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] The Dir clan according to scholars is reported to have sired the Afar people of the North West and the Ajuran (clan). The Dir clan is also a clan who have retained their ancient Cushitic culture.[9]


The history of Islam being practiced by the Dir clan goes back 1400 years. In Zeila, a Dir city, a mosque called Masjid al-Qiblatayn (Somalia) is known as the site of where early companions of the Prophet established a mosque shortly after the first Migration to Abyssinia[10] By the 7th century, a large-scale conversion to Islam was taking place in Somalia, first spread by the Dir clan family, to the rest of the nation.[11]

The early Adal Kingdom (9th century to 13th century) was an exclusive Dir Kingdom with its capital being Zeila.[12] In the 10th century, the Jarso clan a sub-division of Dir established the Dawaro Sultanate centred in Hararghe Highlands.

Dir is one of the oldest clans in the Horn of Africa. According to the Muslim chronicles, two of the oldest monarchies in the northern region, the Ifat and Adal sultanates, were led by Dir.[13]

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.[14][15][16]

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.[17]

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 occupy 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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21][22][23] 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.[24][25] The Biimaal are pastoralists. They were also successful merchants and traders in the 19th century.[26] In the 19th century they have engaged in multiple wars with the Geledi clan, which they were victorious in.[26][23]


I.M. Lewis and many sources maintain that the Dir, a Proto-Somali, together with the Hawiye trace ancestry through Irir son of Samaale.[27][28][29][30][31] Dir is regarded as the father-in-law of Darod, the progenitor of the Darod clan[32] Although some sources state it was the daughter of Hawiye who Darod married.[33][34][35]

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.[36]


The main sub-clans of the Dir today are the Four main 1. Mahe 2. Madaluug 3. Madoode (Esse) 4. Madahweyne

For the first time since several centuries the DIR clan which widely dispersed in the Horn of Africa has successfully convened a meeting with all the major Dir subclans in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Suldaan Dhawal, of the Habr 'Affan Gadabuursi was elected the head and representative of the Dir clan in the Horn of Africa region.

Political groupsEdit

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

Clan treeEdit

The following list is based on Nuova Antologia (1890),[44] I.M. Lewis's book People of the Horn of Africa,[37] and a paper published in March 2002 by Ambroso Guido: Clanship, Conflict and Refugees: An Introduction to Somalis in the Horn of Africa.[45]

  • Samaale
    • Irir
      • Dir
      • Ali GADABUURSI
          • Gobe siciid
          • jibraacin siciid
          • Samaroon Siciid
              • yuusuf samaroon [habar yuusuf ]
              • ciise samaroon
              • siciid samaroon
            • Habar Makador
              • Makahil
                • Makail Dera (Makayl-Dheere)
                • bahabar abdalo
                • CELI makaahiil
                • Ciye makaahiil
                • hassan makaahiil [bahabar xasan]
                • muuse makaahiil
                • jibriil muuse (( Afgaduud ))
                • Bah sanayo
                • jibril Yūnus
                • Adan Yūnus
                • Nur Yūnus (Reer Nuur)
                • Ali Yoonis
              • Mahad 'Asse
                • Reer maxamed
                • Bahabr Abokr
                • Bahabr Aden
                • Bahabr 'Eli
                • Abrayn
                • Bahabar muuse
            • Habar 'Affan
                • muusafiin
                • reer xaamud
                • faroole
                • xeebjire
                • cali ganuun
        • Madahwein
        • Mahad

Notable Dir figuresEdit

Historical publicationsEdit

  • 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 alsoEdit


  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 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. ^ Briggs, Phillip (2012). Somaliland. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 7. ISBN 1841623717.
  11. ^ Holzer, Georg-Sebastian (2008). "POLITICAL ISLAM IN SOMALIA: A fertile ground for radical Islamic groups?". Geo Politics of the Middle East. 1: 23.
  12. ^ Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 25. Americana Corporation. 1965. p. 255.
  13. ^ Futūḥ al-Ḥabasha. (n.d.). Christian-Muslim Relations 1500 - 1900. doi:10.1163/2451-9537_cmrii_com_26077
  14. ^ Slikkerveer (2013-10-28). Plural Medical Systems In The Horn Of Africa: The Legacy Of Sheikh Hippocrates. Routledge. p. 140. ISBN 9781136143304.
  15. ^ Saints and Somalis: Popular Islam in a Clan-based Society. p. 100.
  16. ^ A Modern History of the Somali: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ 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.
  19. ^ 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
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ Ciisa-Salwe, Cabdisalaam M. (1996-01-01). The collapse of the Somali state: the impact of the colonial legacy. HAAN. p. 19. ISBN 9781874209270.
  22. ^ Abdullahi, Mohamed Diriye (2001-01-01). Culture and Customs of Somalia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 23. ISBN 9780313313332.
  23. ^ 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
  24. ^ 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
  25. ^ Kefale, Asnake (2013-07-31). Federalism and Ethnic Conflict in Ethiopia: A Comparative Regional Study. Routledge. p. 89. ISBN 9781135017989. gadsan
  26. ^ a b Olson, James Stuart (1996-01-01). The Peoples of Africa: An Ethnohistorical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 97. ISBN 9780313279188.
  27. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995). The Invention of Somalia. Lawrenceville, NJ: The Red Sea Press Inc. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-932415-98-1.
  28. ^ Lewis, Ioan. M. (1994). Blood and Bone: The Call of Kinship in Somali Society. Lawrenceville, NJ: The Red Sea Press Inc. pp. 104. ISBN 978-0-932415-92-9.
  29. ^ Lewis, I.M. (2008). Understanding Somali and Somaliland Society: Culture History and Society. Hurst. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-85065-898-6.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995-01-01). The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780932415998.
  32. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 71. ISBN 9780810866041.
  33. ^ 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
  34. ^ 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
  35. ^ 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
  36. ^ 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.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i 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"
  38. ^ a b Ahmed, Ali Jimale (1995-01-01). The Invention of Somalia. The Red Sea Press. p. 131. ISBN 9780932415998.
  39. ^ Africa Confidential. Miramoor Publications Limited. 1994-01-01. p. 17.
  40. ^ Verdier, Isabelle (1997-05-31). Ethiopia: the top 100 people. Indigo Publications. p. 13. ISBN 9782905760128.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ "Alert Series - Somalia, Things Fall Apart 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 25 September 2015.
  43. ^ "SDA (Gadabursi)"
  44. ^ a b Protonotari, Francesco (1890-01-01). Nuova Antologia (in Italian). Direzione della Nuova Antologia. p. 343.
  45. ^ Ambroso (2002), page 6 and clan tables after page 64.
  46. ^ Lewis, I.M. (1998-01-01). Peoples of the Horn of Africa: Somali, Afar and Saho. Red Sea Press. p. 25. ISBN 9781569021057.
  47. ^ Abdullahi, p. 172.
  48. ^ Johnson, p. xv.
  49. ^ 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.
  50. ^ 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."
  51. ^ "Vice President Saylici (whose Gadabursi)"
  52. ^ "Nominated Ministers and Their Clans". Goobjoog. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  53. ^ 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.
  54. ^ 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).
  55. ^ page 210
  56. ^ geeskadmin (2014-12-10). "Kenya: Ethiopia Replaced Ambassador Shemsedin Ahmed for security reasons - Geeska Afrika Online". Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  57. ^ Untitled "Mawlid Hayir Hassan, Regional Vice president," page 27.
  58. ^ The Indian Ocean Newsletter — Rise of SPDP in Addis gives green light for internal purge ""including the Vice President of SNRS, Mawlid Hayir."
  59. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780810866041. Sheikh Abdi Abitkar "Gaafle"
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ 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.
  62. ^ Farah, Rachad (2013-09-01). Un embajador en el centro de los acontecimientos (in Spanish). Editions L'Harmattan. p. 17. ISBN 9782336321356.
  63. ^ 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
  64. ^ Mukhtar, Mohamed Haji (2003-02-25). Historical Dictionary of Somalia. Scarecrow Press. p. 247. ISBN 9780810866041.
  65. ^ Yussur Abrar (Dir/Gadabursi), who hails from Borama in Somaliland
  66. ^ Quath, Faati (1957). Islam Walbaasha Cabra Taarikh [Islam and Abyssinia throughout history] (in Arabic). Cairo, Egypt.