Where did the Name ‘Somali’ Come From?

Where the Name ‘Somali’ came from is a subject which is being contested, but here are some of the possible origins.

Reports have that the earliest common ancestor of various Somali clans was known as Irir Samaale.

Now Irir Samaale is still widely considered to be the inspiration for the ethnonym Somali.

However, it is also being believed that the words ‘Somali,’ and ‘Somalia,’ were derived from the two syllables ‘Soo’ and ‘Maal.’

‘Soo’ means ‘Go,’ while ‘Maal’ is the term for milk.

Therefore when ‘Soo’ and ‘Maal’ are combined they mean “Go and Milk.”

‘Go and Milk,’ is alluding to the pervasive pastoralism culture of the Somali people.

But we are not done yet.

Some people argue that the name ‘Somali,’ could even be ‘Arabic.’

It was thought that ‘Dhawamaal,’ the Arabic word for “wealthy” could actually be where the word Somali originates from, a possible allusion to the affluence of animals in Somalia.

But again, the northern coast of Somalia, known as Berbera at the time due to the presence of “Berber” (Cushitic) people, was known as Po-pa-li in an ancient Chinese record from the 9th century.

Yet, the sobriquet Somali was first used in a literary context in the 15th century.

The Abyssinian Emperor commissioned a member of his court to write a hymn honoring a military victory over the Sultan of Ifat’s namesake forces during the conflicts between the Ifat Sultanate in Zeila and the Solomonic Kingdom.

Somalia means a country in the Horn of Africa, while Somalis are its inhabitants.

Somalia is bordered by Ethiopia to the west, Djibouti, to the northwest, the Gulf of Aden to the north, the Indian Ocean to the east, and Kenya to the southwest.

The country is on the waiting list to become a member of the Arusha-based East African Community or EAC.

Other countries making up the EAC are Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi, South-Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Somalia has the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland, measuring 3333 Kilometers.

The Somalia terrain consists of mostly plateaus, wide plains, and highlands.

The temperatures remain high throughout the year in Somalia.

Somalia has an estimated population of around 17.1 million.

More than 2 million Somalis live in Mogadishu, the country’s capital and largest city.

Somalia is being regarded as Africa’s most culturally homogeneous country.

More than 85 Percent of Somalia residents happen to be ethnic Somalis. —

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