Mushunguli to Bantu Jareer: A Trajectory Analysis of the People Now Known as Somali Bantu

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Virginia Tech Publishing


This essay is a trajectory analysis of the people now known as Somali Bantu. Beginning with their settlement of the southern Jubba Valley and on through to their third country resettlement in the United States on P2 refugee status, the people now known as Somali Bantu have been continually transformed by engagements with multiple and often disparate cultures, traditions, languages, and histories. According to Stuart Hall, groups such as the Somali Bantu “bear upon them the traces of the particular cultures, traditions, languages and histories by which they were shaped. The difference is that they are not and will never be unified in the old sense because they are irrevocably the product of several interlocking histories and cultures, belonging at one and the same time to several ‘homes.’” (1990, 310) In this essay, I demonstrate the discursive nature of group identity and interrogate the connections between the history of oppression, the sustainability of culture, and the performance of identity in diaspora. I combine first-hand accounts of forced migration with a summary of the documented history of the people now known as Somali Bantu, beginning with their forced migration to Somalia and the various factors shaping their status in the country. The analysis continues through the period of displacement, flight, and human warehousing in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps of Kenya and includes an examination of how bureaucratic labeling as refugees, and the public rhetoric of mainstream media further shaped the story of the Somali Bantu. Each of these moments through the refugee trajectory are foundational to the self-representations that would emerge in diaspora.




Deramo, M.C., 2016. Mushunguli to Bantu Jareer: A Trajectory Analysis of the People Now Known as Somali Bantu. Spectra, 5(2). DOI: