African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 187

Full Length Research Paper

Methodological misjudgements: The myth of ‘clan cleansing’ in Somalia

Mohamed Haji Ingiriis
  • Mohamed Haji Ingiriis
  • University of Oxford, England.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 17 August 2015
  •  Accepted: 07 October 2015
  •  Published: 31 January 2016


This article explores recent controversial and flawed book, Clan cleansing in Somalia: The ruinous legacy of 1991 by Kapteijns (2013) and, by closely assessing through critical and content analysis, reveals how and why the book is a new myth in the making (Malkki, 1995). Using fictional works (novels) as a basis to construct a non-fiction work, Kapteijns uses violence as a tool to arrest the political opponents of the clan with which she affiliates herself by turning to literature on the anthropology of violence. The article argues that Kapteijns’s book fails to offer a backdrop on how the ‘cleansing’ was evolved in the first place. The article contributes to the knowledge of African conflicts in general and of Somali conflicts in particular. Its purpose is threefold; first, it critiques the methodology used to analyse the 1991 clan convulsions by interrogating the aims and objectives of the author. Second, it examines and clearly articulates the ‘where’ and ‘why’ of the 1991, with its different players and protagonists. Third, it questions the claims purportedly made in the book and offers different critical perspectives of each side of the conflict.

Key words: Myth, cleansing, clan, violence, conflict.