The Hawiye is the largest Somali clan family people of Somalia. Members of this clan traditionally inhabit central and southern Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Ethiopia (Somali, Harar, Oromia and Afar regions) and Kenya (North Eastern Province, Eastern Province). They are also the majority in the capital city, Mogadishu.
Like all Somalis, they claim descent from Samaale, the mythical founder of the entire ethnic group. Also like all other Somalis, they speak the Somali language and are Sunni Muslims. The vast majority of the Hawiyes, except for those who work in the city of Mogadishu, are nomadic herders who raise camels, sheep, and cattle. The vast majority of the Hawiyes are concen- trated in Mogadishu and its environs. The Hawiye ethnic group, however, is subdivided into thousands of sub-clans and sub-sub-clans, and individual Hawiyes feel far more loyalty to their local clan than to any larger collectivity. The Hawiyes are found in the Galguduud Región of Somalia, as well as in the Hiran, Central, Lower Shebelle, and Lower Juba regions. They are also across the border in Ethiopia and in the North-Eastern Región of Kenya. The Hawiye population exceeds 800,000 people.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Hawiyes faced starvation because of the famine and civil war in Somalia. Political insta- bility became endemic as centralized authority broke down in the face of severe clan and sub-clan rivalries. Somalia essentially became a no-man's-land of mis- ery and suffering, with no single individual or group enjoying enough power to impose any order. The Hawiyes control Mogadishu, but even there they are engaged in a civil war between the sub-clans. Mohammed Ali Mahdi from one sub-clan calis himself the interim president of Somalia, while General Mohammed Farrah Aidid, a Soviet-trained military officer, heads the so-called Somali National Alliance. Although Aidid's control in 1993 was more extensive than Mahdi's, it too was tenuous.
Like the great majority of Somali clans, the Hawiye trace their ancestry to Aqil ibn Abi Talib (c. 580 – 670 or 683), a cousin of the prophet Muhammad (c. 570 – 632) and an older brother of Ali ibn Abi Talib (c. 600 – 661) and Ja'far ibn Abi Talib (c. 590 – 629). They trace their lineage to Aqil through Samaale (the source of the name 'Somali'), the purported forefather of the northern pastoralist clans such as the Hawiye, the Dir, and –matrilineally through the Dir– the Isaq and the Darod. Although these genealogical claims are historically untenable, they do reflect the longstanding cultural contacts between Somalia (especially, though not exclusively, its most northern part Somaliland) and Southern Arabia.
With the arrival of Samaale in the areas of Somaliland, the Hawiye, eldest son of Irir, son of Samaale, further crossed into Ethiopia, said to be the traditional homeland, before descending along the Shabelle Valley.
In Somalia, Hawiye subclans can be found inhabiting the areas of fertile lands in the Shabelle River of Beledweyne in the Hiran region and Jowhar in the Middle Shabelle region and stretching from the coast immediately south of Mogadishu to the north of the ancient port town of Hobyo in the desert central Mudug region. The Abgaal and the Hawadle sub-clans of Hawiye are the majority in the Hirshabelle state of Somalia, while in Galmudug the Habar Gidir are the majority followed by other Hawiye clans such as Abgaal, Duduble and Murusade. The Hawiye also have a second majority presence in the Lower Shabelle region. They can also be found in Jubbaland and the Bay and Bakool region. The Fiqishini subclan of the Habar Gidir inhabit the Sool region of Somaliland.
The Hawiye also live in their traditional birthplace, Ethiopia and hold a sizeable population in the Somali Region of Ethiopia as well as cities like Babile and Imi in the Oromia regions. In the southern parts of the Somali Region, Hawiye are majority in 2 of the 9 zones, namely the Liben zone and the Shabelle. The Hawiye are also present in the other zones such as the Dollo, Jarar, Sitti and the Jigjiga zone. A small number can also be found in the Afar region.
In Kenya, Hawiye can also be found in the North Eastern Province (Kenya) region of Kenya where the Degoodi sub-clan is 3rd majority out of Somali clans in Kenya and the majority in the Wajir region, followed by another Hawiye sub-clan, the Ajuran and then the Murule who are the majority of the Mandera region as shown in the Kenyan census.
Major Hawiye cities include the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, Beledweyne, Jowhar and Mandera.
The Hawiye have historically played an important role in Somalia. The majority of Somalia's founding fathers hailed from the Hawiye. The first President, Prime Minister and the father of the Somali Military were all Hawiye. Aden Adde the first President was Udeejeen. The first Prime Minister Abdullahi Issa was Habar Gidir. The father of the Somali Military Daud Abdulle Hirsi was Abgaal. Since then the Hawiye have produced five more Presidents and four more Prime Ministers.
The Hawiye figure prominently in many important fields of Somali society, including the Business and Media sector. For example, Abdirahman Yabarow, the editor-in-chief of VOA Somali is kin. Yusuf Garaad Omar who was the Chairman of BBC Somali for over a decade and helped pioneer its rise during his tenure, is also a member. As are the heads of major national corporations - Jubba Airways and Hormuud Telecom.
Currently the Hawiye play a leading role in the regions of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Benadir (Mogadishu), but also in Somalia and among the Somali people as a whole.