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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Bantu ethnic identity in Somalia
Author:Menkhaus, KenISNI
Periodical:Annales d'Éthiopie
Geographic term:Somalia
Subjects:Bantu-speaking peoples
ethnic classification
Abstract:This article traces the history of Bantu identity in Somalia. First, it conducts a mapping exercise of Bantu groups in Somalia and develops a typology of distinct Bantu communities. This underscores the thesis that what we call today the Somali Bantu is actually a very diverse group linked only by a common physical trait (tightly curled or 'hard hair'), low or no status within the Somali lineage system, a historical identity as subsistence farmers in a predominantly pastoral society, and a shared history of discrimination and oppression. Second, the study reviews the history of the Bantu communities of Somalia in the 20th century, tracing changes in social relations with dominant Somali clans. Third, the article examines the impact of the collapse of the Somali State in 1990 and the ensuing war, famine and international intervention on the evolution of Bantu identity. Finally, the article assesses the future of Somali Bantu identity, arguing that while Bantu identity is on the one hand a recent social construction, a variety of factors have contributed to the 'hardening' of the identity, so that it is expected to remain an important part of the Somali social and political landscape. Notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]