NEWS 2004

 

Undeclared war of discrimination against Somali Minority Groups:

  This topic looks at some aspects of the Somali minority groups in general and the so-called Boon-Midgan/Tumaal in particular. I would not be telling you anything new about the problems faced by those brothers and sisters whom we call minority, when it comes to social status, that is to say their position in Somali society, which puts them in a place of a second class citizen, because of inadequate access to equality, rights, power, and freedom of speech etc.

These injustices are socially unacceptable. I am sure will agree with me on this, because we need a healthy nation if we are to survive as a society and as a state. In this light, I went on to investigate the existences and the magnitudes of the problems from the point of view of Somalis.

  Thus, I have chosen a sample of 6 people from Somali in origin, to help me with my investigation; 2 elderly and 4 undergraduate students at a prestigious higher education, consist with equal proportion of gender; that is equal male/female. I began with elderly couples, by asking the head of the household, Hajji Mohamed, whom I regularly see him when passing by his flat, but nevertheless does not know my background; what are midgan/Tumaals?

  Neither Hajji Mohamed nor myself could define the term Boon-Midgan in precise, obviously term (Tumaale) carries a useful description, but he went on to describe his knowledge about the issue. He said the Midgans/Tumaals are people of Somali in origin, they are Somalis, but are different from other Somalis not in terms of race, physical structure or religion, but other characteristics such as attitudes, behaviors, and so forth. Go on Hajji, I asked; he said they did break a certain  ‘common rules’ or rather what had been perceived to be a ‘custom’ in Somali society where they shouldn’t and that is why they were isolated within and from other Somali clans.  What a ‘common rules’, I asked? I heard it from other people, and my grandfather used to say that, he replied.

  But in few minutes later, 90 years Hajji Mohamed began to open another chapter, to tell a story between him and his friend who turned him for advice and his views about marriage to a ‘midgan Girl’. Hajji Mohamed gave his best advise to his best friend by saying marrying a ‘midgan Girl’ is not a good idea, and his friend got angry immediately afterwards. In this case, Hajji Mohamed thought his friend might well have been a Midgan himself because the way he got annoyed. What an assumption, Hajji? I asked. No, no my son it is real, that is the way to know them who they are, he said.

  Our conversation did seem unmoving on a right direction, and I decided to change the subject to Midgan/Tomaals’ background, from the perspective of Hajji Mohamed. He (Hajji Mohamed) explained how Midgan and other minorities suffered from the hands of other Somali clans. He said that Midgans/Tumaals are dispersed people from defeated empire, because they participated in the industrial revolution. They were technicians and expertise of all equipments used for a land cultivation and domestic purpose. Knifes, spears and other agricultural used equipments were classic example, and produced by those expertise exclusively in a complete monopolistic fashion. Is that constituted of imperialism? I asked. Not only they were using their expertise as a weapon against other clans, but also in these days, a girls were required by other Somali clans in order to obtain a knife and spears etc, and my great, great, great and great grandfather had to provide a girl in order to get one of these goods, not all kind of girls, but a beautiful girl, he warned!

  What is wrong with that since Somali girls could be bought and sold between different clans in a marital purpose with a few goats and less often with a few camels to hand to the girl’s parents?  I asked. It was unacceptable to other Somali clans, thus they ( Midgans/Tumaals) were attacked and defeated by coalition forces of Somali clans put together in a summit that is well organized, widely participated in an undisclosed location. Then According to Hajji Mohamed, these Somali scientists were dispersed to different part of Somalia, into unknown territories and into different clans to be swallowed, where they would be unable to meet again to commit what had been perceived by people like Hajji Mohamed and those before him as unacceptable and unregulated trades.  His wife seemed to be of the same opinion. This remains me a second world war and the faith of Germany’ scientists!  Did I believe Hajji Mohamed’s account? I am not sure, but I found astonishing that Midgans/Tumaales were imperialists who committed atrocity against other Somali clans that Hajji Mohamed clearly articulated here. 

  I left Hajji Mohamed and his elderly wife, assuming that there would be different school of thoughts to this, I would imagine. Then I met four young students in their university campus, and discussed with the same issues as I did earlier with Hajji Mohamed. There were some reluctant from the students’ part to use the name Midgan/Tumaal, they rather preferred the alternative terms, brothers and sisters, but it was my choice the term be used. They raised no objection. We had a brain storming debate about Midgan/Tumaals, where they come from and so on. One student immediately raised the possibility that Boon-Midgans/Tumaals are rooted to his clan but deprived from their shares of inheritances, Why is that? I asked. Because they behaved badly for one occasion, he said, others disagreed, particular one student who said, Boon-Midgaan/Tumaals had done anything inappropriate and they were merely minorities groups and that is why they are in this position. Thus, they belong to my clan.

  After claim and counter claim between the two students over which clan Boon-Migaan/Tumaals belong to: I decided to shift the discussion to the issue of status and equality. Both students agreed that the Boon-Midgan/Tumaals and other Somali minorities were deemed not to be less status than their Somalis counterpart, what they acknowledged however, was that Somali minorities groups were discriminated against, notably these united Nations’ report 2001, termed the occupational outcaste, to mean particularly these Boon-Midgan/Tumaals etc. where access to marry to girls from other Somali clans had been denied for so long now.

  I departed from the student’s campus having being less satisfied with both Hajji Mohamed and students’ accounts, to turn to academy literatures or rather literature reviews, that is, what is being said about Boon-Migan/Tumals by other people, the history books or any other publications. But after reading most of Somali scholar’s writings, which include M. Maino, Margaret Laurence (1954) Pro. I.M. Lewis (1956& 61), Pro. Anderzejewski; and of course Pro. Said Samater; there was nothing I found to suggest had happed what Hajji Mohamed said about Boon-Midgans/Tumals’s mass deportations.  However, history is grounded on people’s perception what happened in the past, thus Hajji Mohamed might well have been correct when he said, in the past, the Minorities groups were dispersed to different part of Somalia, and despite that we have evidence today, where similar offences are taking place in Somalia, it is plausible to be at least open minded to what Hajji had to say. Not least, that there is undoubtedly criminal offences committed by other Somali clans in the past include; exclusion, segregation and discrimination against Boon-Midgans/Tumals and other Somali minorities groups in addition to very limited political representation, but these kinds of abuses are taking place as I am writing this article, which, have to be stopped.

  I can only sympathized with you and also with myself too what happened to us in the past, but we must find a way to end these deviant behaviors, abusive languages, prejudices and apartheid system of marital segregation against our brother and sisters. We need to treat this chronic disease in our society once and for all. How to do it? In my views, the education, education, education and education is the only way to eliminate these illogical norms. Remember, female circumcision known as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) which, we though had based on our religious faith, turned out be a traditional values (Caado). These kinds of practice are hardly to be found in Somali community living in abroad, particularly in the West and the Middle East. Why? Because the advanced of education in our religion made it possible for us to leave (caado) and to do what is right for our daughters. Similar applies here, where can you find these names in our religion? Does slam say anything about Boon-Midgaan/Tumal/ and other minorities groups in our country? We must leave (caado) and respect our brothers and sisters, fellow the guidance of Allah. 

  Those of us, who were victimized by this evil of stereotypes, and stigmatized irrationally by their brothers and sisters (other Somali clans) need to do more. Action rather than word, together we shall overcome this and we will.

SALAH MUKHTAR ADDOW

Somali Scholar who lives in the United States of America