Marehan (Mareexaan)
Total population
2,000,000 to 2,500,000 (1950s est.) [1]
Regions with significant populations
 Great Britain[2]
 United States[2]

Somali and Arabic


Islam (Sunni), Sufism

Related ethnic groups

Mehri, Facaayo Sade, Sade (clan) and other Darod groups.

The Marehan (Somali: Mareexaan, Arabic: مريحان‎, Marehan bin Ahmed bin Abdirahman bin Is'mail bin Ibrahim al Jaberti) are a Somali clan. They are one of the major Darod sub-clans, forming a part of the Sade confederation of clans. The majority of the Marehan live in the Jubbada Hoose, Gedo and Jubbada Dhexe regions (gobolka) in southwestern Somalia, as well as the Galguduud and Mudug regions in central Somalia, the Ogaden, and the North Eastern Province.



One of the earliest mentions of this Somali clan may be by the Jesuit Jerónimo Lobo, who attempted to enter Ethiopia by way of the Jubba River in 1624. He learned of an ethnic group known as the Maracatos, whom C.F. Beckingham identifies as the Marehan, and whom Lobo located in the approximate location of the Somali clan.[3]

Marehan Sultanate

Between the 17th and 18th centuries, the Marehan Sultanate was an important sultanate, which extended from Bender Ziyade on the Gulf of Aden to beyond Ras el-Khail on the Indian Ocean, or much of northern Somalia.[4] Its Marehan constituents are recorded as having played a major role in Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi's campaigns against Ethiopia during the 16th century. The commander of the Somali forces and the closest deputy of the Imam was a Marehan commander, Garad Ahmed bin Hirabu. The Marehan helped push westward into the plains of Jijiga and farther, helping destabilize the highland Christian empire. Evident in these battles were the Somali archers, namely the Marehan and the Gerri archers, through whom al-Ghazi was able to defeat the numerically superior Ethiopian Army that consisted of 16,000 cavalry and more than 200,000 infantry.[5]

Nearing the 19th century, the Marehan sultanate declined and withdrew from the Nugaal area and became confined to the Gedo and Galgadud regions.[6] The Marehan were also the allies of the Somali hero Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, and fought against the British. In a boast of Hassan, he declares his power and reach is such that he can climb even the highest trees that exist; the trees of the Marehan. This is meant to signify that Hassan is so powerful that he even has the support of the powerful Marehan and only they, out of the rest of the Somalis, can aptly describe the reach of his power. As early as 1850, the Marehan were recorded moving into Jubaland. It was recorded that:

"To the east the Somalis were once more on the move. By 1850, one of the Darod Somali groups, the Marehan crossed the Juba in force. In 1865 they went on to break the Tana Galla [sic] and by 1880 had turned on the Boran. Pagan peoples in this region were now being dominated by Muslims, and peasants by nomads from the north."[7]


According to some authorities, the term 'Myrrh' might have been derived from the Somali clan Marehan (Murryhan - Mareexaan):

"On the hills and uplands the prevailing forms are gum-yielding acacias, mimosas, euphorbias, and the aromatic growths from which are obtained by the frankincense and myrrh of commerce, and for which the region, like the opposite coast of Arabia, has always been famous. Some authorities have even derived the word myrrh itself from the Marehan (properly Murreyhan) tribe, in whose territory it is obtained in the greatest perfection."[8]

Clan tree

There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. The following listing is taken from the World Bank's Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics from 2005 and the United Kingdom's Home Office publication, Somalia Assessment 2001.[9][10]

In the south central part of Somalia the World Bank shows the following clan tree:[11]

  • Darood
    • Kablalah
      • Koobe
      • Kumade
    • Isse
    • Sade
      • Mareehan
      • Facaye
    • Ortoble
    • Leelkase (Lelkase)

In Puntland the World Bank shows the following:[12]

  • Darod
    • Marehan
    • Awrtable
    • Lelkase

Political organizations

Prominent figures

  • Mohamed Siad Barre, the Head of State of Somalia from 1969 to 1991.
  • Nur ibn Mujahid, second Conqueror of Ethiopia and the Patron Saint of Harar
  • Aden Ibrahim Aw Hirsi, The Governor of Gedo region 2006 to 2008
  • Ali Shire Warsame, MP (SYL) of DhusaMareb in the 1960s and a usinessman.
  • Ahmed Abdullahi Gulleid, columnist, writer, and researcher
  • Barre Adan Shire Hiiraale, military stategist, JVA Leader, Defence Minister (2006–2007)
  • Ahmed Farah Ali 'Idaja', one of the first Somali language writers and "father" of the Somali written folklore
  • Fatimo Isaak Bihi, first Somali female ambassador, Ambassador to Geneva, Director of the African Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Abdulrahman Jama Barre, Somali Foreign Minister and close relative of Siad Barre
  • Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, member of the Pan-African Parliament from Djibouti
  • Shire Jama Ahmed, inventor of the Somali script
  • Ali Matan Hashi, first Somali pilot, Commander of Somali Air Force 1959-1978, Minister of Justice, Minister of Health
  • Ahmed Warsame, head of the Somali Military Academy
  • Mohammed Sheikh Adden, premier Somali intellectual and former head of Somali Technological Development, Minister of Information, Minister of Education, Head of the Ideology Bureau SRRC
  • Abdi Shire Warsame, former Somali Ambassador to Kenya and China and Former Foreign Affairs State minister in Transitional National Government
  • Omar Haji Massale, Head Commander of Somali Military Forces
  • Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Prime Minister of Somalia 2010-2011


  1. ^ Cerulli, Enrico. Texts of the consuetudinary law of the Marrehan Somali, pp 26-27[verification needed]
  2. ^ a b c d e f Cerulli, Enrico. Texts of the consuetudinary law of the Marrehan Somali, pp 14-16[verification needed]
  3. ^ Jerónimo Lobo, The Itinerário of Jerónimo Lobo, translated by Donald M. Lockhart (London: Hakluyt Society, 1984), pp. 59,66
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 12 by James Hastings, ISBN 0766136876, pp. 490
  5. ^ Richard Pankhurst, An Introduction to the Economic History of Ethiopia, from Early Times to 1800
  6. ^ map
  7. ^ The New Encyclopedia Britannica Issue 1974
  8. ^ Encyclopedia: The Earth and Its Inhabitants: The Universal Geography
  9. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.55 Figure A-1
  10. ^ Country Information and Policy Unit, Home Office, Great Britain, Somalia Assessment 2001, Annex B: Somali Clan Structure, p. 43
  11. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.56 Figure A-2
  12. ^ Worldbank, Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics, January 2005, Appendix 2, Lineage Charts, p.57 Figure A-3

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