Bajuni people

The Bajuni people are an ethnic minority mainly residing on the Bajuni Islands and surrounding coastal areas between the port city of Kismayo and Mombasa area of Kenya and Somalia.

Regions with significant populations
 Somalia10,000 (1970s estimate)[3]
Kibajuni, Swahili
Related ethnic groups
Swahili, Comorians


The Bajuni principally inhabit the tiny Bajuni Islands in the Somali Sea. Many also traditionally reside in Kenya, mainly in Mombasa and other towns in that country's Coast Province.[3][4]

The population's members trace their origins to diverse groups; primarily coastal Jareer a descendant of slaves Bantus enslaved by somalis merchants. And they trace their origins to the Khoisanoid hunter-gather groups, as well as later additions such as Arab, Persian and Somalis immigrants.[3] Some also have Indonesian ancestry.[5]

The Bajuni follow the laws of Islam to conduct their affairs. Almost all are Shafite Muslims. Their lives revolve around the mosque and daily prayer. In the course of saying five prayers a day, they also wash at least five times. Every Muslim parent insists on giving his child the basic Islamic education. A Muslim judge, or kadhi, handles the criminal and civil disputes of the community.

When a child is born, it is held up by the father, a friend, or a teacher, who recites the traditional call of prayer into its ear. From the moment of birth, the child is instructed in the basic teachings of Islam. Men are the working breadwinners. A woman's place among the Bajuni is usually within the home. She customarily leaves the house only to visit or to go to the market. Her visiting is done late in the afternoon when the housework is finished and the children are playing. The husbands like to gather at a men's meeting place or the mosque.[6]

The Bajuni are traditionally fishermen and sailors. Some also pursue other trades such as metalwork.[4]

End of colonisation, Civil War and inclusion in peace talks

By 1960, Somalia (then known as Somaliland) gained its freedom from colonial governance.[7] Kenya gained its independence in December 1963.[8]

The Kenya National Assembly Official Record (Hansard) contains several records of land ownership and rights discussions. This official record, dated Jun 24 - Jul 30, 1971 documents a discussion of traditionally Bajuni lands (Lamu, Kenya) and dissenting opinions as to ownership. In the official record of May 28 - Jul 4, 1974,[9] there were questions regarding what government actually had jurisdiction over the Bajuni tribal lands.

With the downfall of the Somali government in 1991, Bajuni people experienced abandonment by both the Somalia and Kenyan governments. The Bajuni refer to this period as "The Troubles".[10] This marginalization led Chairman of the Bajuni, Hon. Mohamed Ismail Barkale (Maxamed Ismaaciil Barkaale) to petition I.G.A.D. (Africa's Intergovernmental Authority on Development) for the lawful rights of the Bajuni people in December 2003, as documented at[11] Barkale was made a delegate to the 2003 Somali peace talks, see 193. Hon. Mohamed Ismail Barkale List of members of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament.


The Bajuni people collectively refer to themselves and are known as Wabajuni. They speak Kibajuni, a dialect of the Bantu Swahili language.[4]


  1. Archived November 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Nurse, p.6.
  3. Abdullahi, p.11.
  4. Mwakikagile, p.102.
  5. Gregory Norton, Flyktninger√•d (Norway). Land, property, and housing in Somalia. Norwegian Refugee Council. p. 52.
  6. "Swahili, Bajuni". Joshua Project. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  7. "Somalia - Trusteeship and Protectorate: The Road to Independence". 1971. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2019-03-14. Retrieved 2015-10-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "The Kenya National Assembly Official Record (Hansard)". July 1974: 1118. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  10. "Derek Nurse | Bajuni Database". 2013-06-07. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  11. " Online Community:". 2003-12-04. Retrieved 2015-11-12.


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