By Muriuki A.
I don’t know if you are aware but have you ever known that Somalis heavily frown upon marrying from outside their ethnic group? Of course there are rare cases when the inverse happens but most of the time, this practice is not common at all. In this article I will try to explain why this is and hopefully you will not feel too bad when that Fatuma lady rejects your advances.
1 . Ethnic pride.
One of the reasons Somalis do not marry outside the tribe is pride. Somalis are very proud of their history, culture, religion and looks and they hate “tainting ” this with outsiders.
They might even feel superior and this superiority complex can make it hard for a Somali father to accept a non-Somali into the family simply because they feel the outsider is not worthy of having their daughter. Additionally, many Somalis want their kids and grand-kids to look Somali.
2 . Clan society.
Somalis have very strong links to their qabils or clans. Sometimes its even hard for one clan to marry from another clan whom they may deem to be ‘below’ them. Many Somalis, especially in their native Somalia rely on their clans to dictate many things in their lives including who or not to marry. Outsiders literally do not fit anywhere in the Somali clan system.
3 . Social norm/tradition.
Many Somalis are still conservative and tied to their culture. Culture plays a very significant role in their lives. Marrying a fellow Somali is so ingrained in their culture that interracial marriage simply is a rare and consequently frowned upon phenomenon. They like to associate with people who are familiar with their culture , language, mindset and more importantly will be able to inculcate the same on their children.
4 . Religion.
Somalis are very devout Muslims. As a rule, Muslims are not permitted to marry non- Muslims. Religion comes first for many Somalis and so as often is the case, if a non-Somali also happens to a non-Muslim, the union will simply not survive and if it does, a lot of stigma will be on not only the Somali marrying the non-Somali but also the whole family.
5 . Ignorance.
Marrying outsiders is still a very foreign concept among Somalis. Many do not know any better and hence when they experience or observe it, it comes as a great shock to them. Its called fear of the unknown. However this ignorance is waning especially among Somalis living in western countries where interracial marriages especially between white men and Somalis women is becoming increasingly common.
6 . Somali phenotype.
The Somali phenotype is very delicate and can easily disappear when it comes into contact with other racial phenotypes. For example, when a white person has babies with a Somali, the baby can very easily appear completely white. If enough Somalis married no-Somalis, the Somali ethnic group would totally disappear as we know it. Already this has happened a lot in Kenya. The Rendille for instance are thought to be Somalis who had liasons with Nilotic speakers. Over time, they got assimilated and lost their culture and Somali looks.