My chief concerns here, however, are with Besteman's inaccurate discussion of Somali politics and, more generally, her misconceptions about segmentary lineage political systems, which, despite their well-known rarity, she bizarrely supposes to be widespread "throughout Africa" (Besteman 1996:129). She starts from the endearing assumption that recourse to violence in Somali politics, rather than being a matter of "internal 'tribal' dynamics," has to be explained in diffusionist terms as a consequence of "global economics and politics." "Were pre-colonial Somalis really trapped within destructive spirals of kin-based warfare and feuding?" she rhetorically asks (Besteman 1996:123). This is an odd question to ask of a segmentary lineage society, which by definition inscribes the institution of feud-a query, moreover, which anyone at all familiar with Somali history and culture, and however untutored in segmentary systems, would be bound to answer affirmatively. (Lewis, 100)
About the Author
I. M Lewis has studied the Somali people and is considered an expert on their culture.