By Alexandra Lewis (auth.)
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Extra resources for Security, Clans and Tribes: Unstable Governance in Somaliland, Yemen and the Gulf of Aden
Liability under the mag system was collective and as such the mag group as a whole is supposed to compensate for the loss that is occasioned to a victim of the acts of one’s of its members. (Aden, 2011, p. 9) As liability is therefore accepted by the whole of a Mag-paying group, Xeer allows for conflict resolution between individuals to trickle upwards into conflict resolution between clan structures, by making the whole of the sub-clan pay for the mistakes of their members in gesture of apology.
From a Xeer standpoint, these changes are significant, as they mean the empowerment of the customary system and leadership’ (2012, p. 89). Ione Lewis writes that Somali society and its system of law and order administration are structured, and continue to be structured, upon three branches of social organisation: the clans, Xeer and the Elders (1999). Xeer is the pre-colonial body of Somali customary law, which differs from clan to clan but which is administered by Islamic Shura councils (mainly in urban settings) and by community Elders.
This digs down to the sub-subsub-sub-clan level, but, again, further delineations are prevalent. Again, these dynamics emerge from the unique manifestation of Somali clanism, which takes bloodlines to be its primary identifying feature. This differs drastically, for instance, from the Kenyan clan system, in which an individual’s clan affiliation will determine the languages that they speak, the livelihoods that they are associated with and even their names. The distinctive characteristics of the Kenyan clan likely allows for each to inhabit its own space and occupational sector (at least in rural areas).