I came across a second edition paper written by a dutch researcher named Jan Abbink who has taken the formidable task of actually outlining the complete Somali clan genealogy. The author himself recognizes the amount of effort needed in having to prepare something like this by writing at the very beginning of the paper’s first edition:
[…]the total Somali clan genealogy has been prepared to assist researchers, lawyers, students and refugee organizations in their queries on Somali clan relations, a very touchy and nebulous issue. Some people including Somalis will find this exercise impossible, misguided or futile[…]The idea that there will ever be an undisputed total genealogy is a chimera; the very basis of genealogical tracing in Somali is its flexibility as an idiom of social and political positioning of people: alternative reckonings, reclassification and ‘manipulation’ of descent and lineages are the very game of Somali life.
The paper itself is quite interesting and doesn’t include too much academic jargon, which might put off most people. I also noticed that considering the amount detail involved, it’s somewhat difficult to outline the entire genealogy in one chart. For example, using only the Darod clan family, i counted 273 unique links. I figured it would be interesting to see how this chart would look like as a network graph.
I’ve recently learned about this awesome open source software called Gephi, which enables anyone to create a network graph with just a few clicks. Actually it’s more than just a few clicks, but my point is that it’s pretty straight forward to use. So after a few YouTube videos and even more articles, i started getting a little organized.
Gephi has the capability of creating network graphs using CSV files, however it needs two specific files, namely the Node file and the Edges file. The node file should have the ID for each point and its label, while the Edges file should have two columns, one for the source ID and the other for the target; in order for it to make a link between all the points. I won’t be going into too much detail about this but the gist of it is that the node file outlines all the unique points, and the Edges file just tells Gephi how to link them.
I decided on limiting the graph to only the Darod clan family. I couldn’t find any way of getting a soft copy of the original PDF file, so i ended up actually typing out all the names manually in MS Excel first. This was pretty infuriating, considering how there are a number of names in the paper that appear more than once, but represent completely different lineages. This meant that i had to give each duplicated name a unique ID. For instance, if the name Hassan appeared twice, i had to rename the second instance HASSAN_1. I’d then have to remember the location of HASSAN_1 on the chart, since that’s the name that would need to be used when creating the edges file. That said, you’ll have to excuse me if there are any errors.
After a frustrating amount of time, i came up with the following network:
Click here for a much better view.
That’s just from a single clan family, and the author has highlighted that the Dulbahante lineage can go down even further, however a different publication would need to referred to for the details. Clicking on a node would bring out the information pane which holds certain network stats and also the connections linked to the selected node. I still haven’t figured out how to limit the information pane to only connections, since the network stats won’t be very useful for most people. If you would like the labels for the smaller nodes to be visible, zoom in further and the labels should pop up; or simply mouse over the node.
I plan on finishing the rest of the chart and maybe then link all the clan families together to make some kind of master network graph of all the clan families in Somalia; which is a pretty arduous task. I guess it’ll be a nice healthy break from only posting about R.