The socio-political organization of the Somalis in the pre-colonial period


  • They were organized into clans.
  • The clans were headed by a council of elders, who settled disputes and maintained law and order, among their other roles in the community.

  • Circumcision marked the transition from childhood to adulthood and was mandatory for both boys and girls.
  • They believed in one God (wak).
  • Men took care of animals as women concentrated on domestic activities.
  • Being nomadic pastoralists, they moved from place to place in search of pasture.
  • They converted to Islam and adopted the Islamic way of life.


  • They were divided into clans.
  • The clans were headed by councils of elders, who maintained law and order.

  • After circumcision, young people formed age-sets.
  • With Islam, the political system changed to give way to the new leaders: the Sheikhs and Islamic Law (Sharia) Today, the Somali constitute the largest single group of Cushites in Kenya.