Silent Cry of Somali Customary Law ‘Xeer’

Proceedings of the International Conference on Social science, Humanities and Education

Year: 2018


[Fulltext PDF

Silent Cry of Somali Customary Law ‘Xeer’

Kulow, Mohamed Malim



In more than two decades Somalia witnessed ethnicity and religious fundamentalism which led to the emergence of assertive identity politics with a capacity to mobilize public support for its cause exploiting the advantages and disadvantages of globalization. For a conspicuously distinguished homogeneous Somali society, alternatives to traditional conflict management has yet to achieve clarity on how modern governance framework will best manage their rich diversities of people, achieve good governance, and draw upon its extremely indigenous culture, values, and institutions as sources of strength and legitimacy. International support has proven largely ineffective instigating crisis of identity playing unity through the suppression of diversity which left traditional elders feeling disempowered and unable to see themselves reflected in the governance of their own nation. Since recorded history, tribal elders have been instrumental in mediating and resolving a variety of disputes between diverse local groups. The role of elders (usually men) has been a human resource used to great advantage although ignored at great peril in our modern intellectual landscape. In this study, i argue that, if national governance framework is to embody the soul of the nation, they must reflect the essential cultural values and norms and build on their governance architect to stifle the tendency to focus on traditional conflict management as outdated rather than praising their positive and functional integrative role in nation building. Traditional leaders seek to be recognized for their distinctive role and their underrating has led to some disparities among ethnic groups in the shaping and sharing of power and resources. Somali traditional mediation, called Xeer (customary law), existed before Somali people were introduced to other categories of laws during the colonial period. Since then, many in the community believe that traditional mediation (Xeer) is the best justice system suited for Somalia under current circumstances, in a country where a high percentage of the population is illiterate.