A powerful Somali tribal leader is currently visiting South Africa to discuss with local traditional leaders the need for coexistence following the spate of anti-immigrant attacks that recently swept some parts of the country.
“King Burhan Muse arrived on the weekend. The Somali embassy is busy organizing meetings for him with some traditional leaders in the country,” Abdi Halane Hirsi, Somali cultural attaché in Pretoria, told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday.
Somalia has four major tribes – Darood, Hawiye, Dir and Rahanweyn – each of which has its respective king who tribe members pay allegiance to.
Muse is the leader of the Darood tribe, the largest in Somalia.
Hirsi said Muse was expected to discuss a number of issues with fellow traditional leaders during his stay in the country, which will run until May 19.
South Africa has a sizeable number of Somali migrants residing in the country, most of whom are involved in the informal business sector.
Most of their businesses were looted in the recent spate of xenophobic attacks in the country.
Last month, a wave of anti-immigrant violence swept through South Africa’s coastal city of Durban and later spread to parts of Johannesburg, the country’s largest city.
Seven people were killed in the violence and hundreds displaced.
Immigrants were accused of stealing jobs from native South Africans, committing crimes, and putting a burden on the country’s social services.
On Monday night, the visiting Darood king held a public meeting with members of the Somali community in Johannesburg.
“It’s a historic moment for the Somalis in South Africa for the arrival of the fist Somali king to the country,” Amir Sheikh, chairman of the Somali Community Board (SCOB), told Anadolu Agency.
He said the king’s arrival came at the right time, when the country was facing anti-foreign sentiment.
“We will make sure the presence of the king will be beneficial to both the Somali community and their host communities,” said Sheikh.
Abdurrahman Ali, a 33-year-old Somali shopkeeper, was happy with the visit of the Darood king, though he himself is not a tribe member.
“I am happy that he is here to visit us and raise some of our issues with the authorities,” Ali told Anadolu Agency.
He believes it would be important if the visiting king met with the influential Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, who was widely accused of making statements that triggered the recent spate of anti-immigrant attacks.
King Zwelithini has since denied making the remarks, insisting he was misquoted by the media.
“I can’t wait to meet King Burhan,” Mohammed Hussein, a Somali businessman, told Anadolu Agency. “We were told he would be visiting Cape Town, too.”
13 May 2015