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Issa People of Africa

Updated on July 29, 2013

The series of A to Z of African people, that I am sharing (just because I love Africa for thousands of reasons) has come to the moment where I do not want to discriminate choosing only one for my purpose of writing in alphabetical order about African people.

It was astonishing, the search results of African people with the letter "I"; all of them with wonderful cultures...

  • Ibibio
  • Ife
  • Igala
  • Igbo
  • Igede
  • Ijaw
  • Ijebu
  • Iramba
  • Iraqw
  • Isoko
  • Issa
  • Iteso
  • Itsekiri
  • Ittu
  • Iwa

... Eeny, meeny, miny moe...

Who are the members of the Issa people?

The Issa people are considered part of the Dir clan of the Somali people. Approximately 400,000 people consider themselves Issa. The Issa fighters played a significant role in the 1529-43, Adal-Ethiopian War.

A civil war between the Issa people and the Afar, in the early 1990s, ended with a power sharing agreement.

Where are the Issa people located?

The Issa people are located in the Horn of Africa.The Issa primarily inhabit Southern Djibouti (representing nearly one half of the country's total population. It was a French territory until 1977), Northern Somalia, and the Harer Province of Ethiopia.



get directions

The Horn of Africa

Horn of Africa
Horn of Africa

How do the Issa people live?

The Issa people's living conditions vary from affluent upper - class Arab businessmen and the educated Afars and Somalis of the country's elite to undernourished herders with scant possessions and scrawny livestock.

The social issues in Djibouti are heavily dependent on foreigner assistance: an unemployment rate of around 50%; the national fixation chewing kwat is not of any benefit for them either; including the health problems of HIV/AIDS and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).

How do the Issa people communicate?

The Issa people speak Somali, an Afro-Asiatic language.


How do the Issa people survive?

The Issa people live in one of the hottest places on Earth. The yearly rainfall is less than five inches, so the vegetation is exiguous. Djibouti lacks any significant natural resources other than fishing grounds, geothermal potential and some mining activity.

The economy is based on service activities connected with the country's strategic location and status as a free trade zone in North East Africa.

Women use natural fibers to weave rugs, mats, and other objects. Both men and women like ornamental jewelery. They make pottery without a wheel by hollowing out a ball of clay and molding it into the desired shape.


What characteristics define the diversity of the Issa people?

  1. Origin myth
  2. Oral tradition
  3. Special readers called "gabaye"
  4. Nomadics have begun learning to read and write
  5. "Rabena" is called their annual celebration of a feast of the dead
  6. Great respect for elders

Lessons learned by the Issa people

When you love somebody as I love African people, you will feel pain by their harm, suffering and struggles; with unnecessary wars and confrontations between people with the same blood created by God, but when you stumble across a story like the lady from the first picture I posted, a smile of hope and satisfaction brightens your soul. She is a Somali environmentalist lady named Fatima Jibrell. She saw the connection between "peace, empowerment and resource protection ".

I invite you to watch the video below as you smile with her and me by the story.

Blessings to all!

© Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill

© 2012 Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill


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    • Lastheart profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      7 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      MartieCoetser thanks for your great contribution. I recommend readers to visit your page. I saw you have many interesting articles.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      7 years ago from South Africa

      Lastheart, this is a very interesting hub about the Issa People in Somalia, Africa. Down in South Africa we have so many different tribes that I will forever be busy studying their cultures. We have two main-'streams' down here -

      From the east side of Africa the Nguni tribes migrate all the way down - i.e. the Zula, Xhosa and others. Interesting, the letter 'i' is a prefix when one refer to the people/tribe/nation = iZulu..... iXhosa.

      From the west of Africa the Sotho tribes came all the way down - North Sotho (Pedi), South Sotho, Tswana, etc. The prefix referring to them as a tribe/people is 'ba'..... Batswana, Basotho, Bapedi.....

      (Interesting, 'i' is not a capital letter, but 'b' is.)

      Very-very interesting! Ethnology is one of my many interests.

      This hub of yours about the Issa people certainly arouse eagerness to learn more about them.

    • Lastheart profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      7 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      hockey8mn thanks for your comment, you put a smile on my face with the "haha".

    • hockey8mn profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Another culture, another letter. Sad you couldn't do them all haha. Maybe later. Looking forward to the next one.

    • Lastheart profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      7 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      shiningirisheyes it always nice to know you were around, thanks!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      7 years ago from Upstate, New York

      You really do such a wonderful job with these hubs introducing us to other cultures.

    • Lastheart profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      7 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      billybuc thanks I like those words: "making the world a little bit smaller for all of us".

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      7 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love this series; so very educational. Thank you for writing this series and making the world a little bit smaller for all of us.

    • Lastheart profile imageAUTHOR

      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 

      7 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      Th froggy for being part of my researches.

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 

      7 years ago from Returned to an Isla Del Sol - Puerto Rico Will Rise Strong

      Another great African hub. You are doing a great job researching these honey.


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