The Somali of Kenya are descendants of Somali immigrants and refugees who settled there over many centuries. Some came to Kenya for economic and political reasons. For others, conflict and persecution displaced them from their home countries.
The Somali presence in Kenya dates back to the early days of the East African coast trade. Somali merchants and traders travelled to the region to trade goods and establish commercial links. In more recent times, a variety of factors drive Somali immigration to Kenya. Conflict and persecution in Somalia, economic opportunities in Kenya, and the search for a better life.
Many Somali immigrants and refugees have settled in urban areas of Kenya, such as Nairobi and Mombasa. Others have established communities in rural areas of the country. Today, the Somali community in Kenya is a diverse and vibrant one. They form part of the country’s social and cultural fabric with a rich history and cultural traditions.
A number of clans divide the Somali people. The clans break into several subclans, often organised into larger clans and clan families. The exact number varies because different methods categorize the clans, and some clans further divide into sub-clans. However, the consensus generally acknowledges that around six main Somali clans exist, and these clans further divide into numerous sub-clans and clans.
The main Somali clans are:
- Darod: The largest Somali clan and comprises several sub-clans, including the Ogaden, Majerteen, and Harti clans.
- Hawiye: The second largest Somali clan comprises several sub-clans, including the Habar Gidir, Abgaal, and Murusade clans.
- Dir: Several sub-clans, including the Isaaq, Gadabuursi, and Issa clans, form this clan.
- Isaaq: One of the largest Somali clans, this clan consists of several sub-clans, including the Habar Awal, Habar Jeclo, and Habar Yoonis clans.
- Rahanweyn: Several sub-clans, including the Digil, Mirifle, and Baadicade clans, compose this clan.
- Digil: Several sub-clans, including the Gadsan, Madhiban, and Tunni clans, constitute this clan.
In addition to these main clans, there are also several smaller clans and sub-clans within the Somali community, each with its own unique cultural traditions and history.