Midgan one knows how large a proportion of the

Midgan is the name of one precise
group and a disparaging generic term that Somali people apply to all the various
occupational groups. They are also called Gaboye (a term introduced during the
Barre era)1,
but this is not a clan/group name – nor the name of an ancestor. The most common
generic name for the groups in other parts of Somalia is sabor or bon. In this
extended project response, I will be using the identifying term Midgan, except
where local representatives themselves use another term.

 

Associate
professor of Sociology at Central Michigan University who specialises in
African minorities stated in a telephone interview “Madhiban” is a
pejorative term used to refer to a group of people who engage in hunting,
gathering, and metal and leather work (15 Oct. 1995).

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The professor
claimed that main stream Somalis shun and despise the occupations performed by
the Madhiban and so the former treat the latter as “untouchables.” He
further stated that the Madhiban are the same as the Migdan but the term
“Madhiban” is politer. This information could not be corroborated by
sources currently available to the Research Directorate. 2

 

Clans and tribal
identity in Somalia is and has always been a crucial determiner of social
standing and the public perception of individuals. Being without a tribe was
equivalent to being homeless and this was essentially, what the Madhiban were.
When conglomerates of people are alienated, it is anthropologically proven that
they band together. The madhiban constructed their own
sociolect.

 

Physically, members of
Midgan, and other so-called occupational groups are not distinct from other
Somalis.2 No one knows how large a proportion of the population these groups
constitute: Some sources believe one percent, others claim that there are far
more. A study conducted by UNHCR in 2002 estimated that there were about 20,000
members of these groups in Northwest Somalia (Ambroso 2002, p. 32). Landinfo
met with two organisations that represent the groups in Hargeisa in April 2016,
and they gave different estimates. One of them estimated that there ar

e 4,000 such households in
Hargeisa, i.e. between 20,000 and 30,000 people. The representatives for the
other group, VOSOMWO, Voices of Somaliland Minority Women Organization 3, said
that the number of households in Hargeisa alone is about 8,000 or an estimated
60,000 people

 

1 1996 to 1991 where the Somali Democratic Republic was ruled by
President Siad Barre

2Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Somalia: The
Madhiban clan, including literal translation in English, whether it applies to
a single clan or group of clans, 1 October 1998

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