The Somali and The Sab

The Somali and The Sab Last updated on Monday 26th April 2010

The Somali people speak an Afroasiatic language as well as Arabic. Of the 8.9 million Somalis living in Somalia, 80% belongs to the Somali or Samaale group in the north; the remaining 20% belongs to the Sab, or southern Somali. All believe they are descended from the same male ancestor and his two sons, Somali and Sab. Such a closeness has brought a long history of both strong alliances and bloody feuds.

A basic historical distinction between the two has always been that the Somali were more nomadic than the Sab.

Communities are united into a larger social and political unit called a rer, each with its own elected leader. Marriages to more than one wife and a dowry system are mainly secular contracts but Somalis tend to follow Islamic cultural patterns.

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