Somalia: El Ali Meteorite in the Light of History and Culture


El Ali District is situated in Hiiraan region, Somalia and it is inhabited by indigenous clan known as Derissame who are camel herders. The local indigenous community dresses in a special way where they dress (two simple pieces of clothes, which cover the shoulders and the lower party of the body as skirt and their preferred colour is white) and they let their hair grow until it becomes more and grows to form afro hairstyle.

See image below:

El Ali indigenous people
El Ali indigenous people
Indigenous people herding camels

Eli Ali people herd camels and rely on it for transportation, milking and as animal protein source and they sell it to local market which makes El Ali the most strategic livestock hub in whole Somalia.

El Ali used to be once regional military and police post during the Italian colony in Somalia, where different communities from different regions used to come for court proceedings and other judicial and social services. Thanks to is strategic position, the El-Ali constitutes an immense importance; it connects many regions in Somalia and connects Somalia to Ethiopia.

Eli Ali Under Al-Shabab Terrorist Rule

Eli-Ali has been under the full control of Al-Shabaab militias for more than a decade now. Its indigenous people have suffered many human rights violations perpetrated by Al-Shabaab terrorists. For instance, the Al-Shabaab forcefully marry their young girls, forcibly recruit their children and practice extortion on the community as a source of income.

Further more, the El-Ali people live in harsh conditions and frequently suffer devastating droughts and famine caused by climate change. The community does not have access to basic medical assistances and education. It has little access to humanitarian aid since humanitarian agencies neglect this region. Therefore, the community may only rely on its members for its very survival. Community members living outside the El-Ali region try their best to send food and medicine to their communities but must pay extortion money to al-Shabaab in order to feed their starving people in side El Ali.

El Ali Meteorite & Its Cultural Importance for the Community

The El-Ali community has known the El-Ali Meteorite for centuries, calling it the “heavenly-descended stone brought by angels”. The community kept it as a sacred stone and used it for different purposes, including sharpening knives for their sacrifices. The oral history of the El-Ali community, as well as its current and previous community leaders, confirm the long-lasting presence, usage and importance of the meteorite.

Ugaas Hassan Yuusuf Idris (Ugaas means clan chief) said in an interview that El Ali meteorite is a cultural heritage and has spiritual importance for his indigenous community in El-Ali. He added that local herders in El Ali had knowledge of this rock for more than 5 to 7 generations, the whole memorialized through Saar folklore, songs, dances and poems. We believe that the rock is brought down from the sky to El Ali by angels and we use it also to sharpen our knives when we prepare meat for our collective prayers.

Several reports confirm the cultural, spiritual and historical significance of the meteorite for the El-Ali community e.g..  and and and and and

Dahir Amiin Jesow, MP from Somalia’s parliament says in a press conference, posted on local tv’s Facebook account that many people were murdered by al-shabaab terrorists in Eli Ali because they tried to defend the meteorite against al-shabaab militias who came to rob their cultural heritage after being lured by 264,000 USD paid by Kureym mining Company (Newly stablished company in 2020, for the sole purpose of robbing the meteorite from El Ali community). According to local community leaders like Ciise Mohumed, 25 people from El Ali community were killed, when they tried to protect and defend the meteorite against al-shabab terrorists who used excessive military power in robbing the meteorite from El Ali.

No doubt that the robbed meteorite had cultural and  spiritual importance for the El Ali indigenous community but the question is: Why the Government of Somalia has allowed to pay for al-Shabaab to violently rob the meteorite from its rightful community ?

HANAHR Advocacy Team




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