Most Gadabuursi members are descendants of Sheikh Samaroon. However, Samaroon does not necessarily mean Gadabuursi, but rather represents only a sub-clan of the Gadabuursi clan family.
As a Dir subclan, the Gadabuursi have immediate lineal ties with the Issa of Djibouti, the Surre (Abdalle and Qubeys) of central/southern Somalia, theBiyomaal of southern Somalia, the Gaadsan, the Gurgure and the Isaaq.
The Gadabuursi are concentrated in northwestern Somalia and are the pre-dominant clan of the Awdal region. The Gadabuursi primarily inhabit their traditional territories of Awdal, Salal (a new province carved out of Awdal), Djibouti and parts of Gabiley. They also inhabit the contiguous areas in the Jijiga Zone and the Shinile Zone in the Somali Region of Ethiopia.
The Gadabursi Kingdom was established more than 600 years ago, and consisted of many elders and a King (Ugaas). Hundreds of elders used to work in four sections consisting of 25 elders each:
- Social committee
- Defence - policing authorities consisting of horsemen (referred to as fardoolay) and foot soldiers
- Economy and collection of taxes
- Justice committee
The chairmen of the four sections were called Afarta Dhadhaar, and were selected according to talent and personnel abilities. A constitution, Xeer Gadabursi , had been developed, which divided every case as to whether it was new or had precedents (ugub or curad).
The Gadabursi King and the elders opposed the arrival of the British at the turn of the twentieth century, and subsequently signed an agreement with the latter. Later, as a disagreement between the two parties both arose and intensified, the British installed some people against the Ugaas in hopes of overthrowing him. This would eventually bring about the collapse of the kingdom.
There is no clear agreement on the clan and sub-clan structures and many lineages are omitted. The following listing is taken from the World Bank's Conflict in Somalia: Drivers and Dynamics from 2005 and the United Kingdom's Home Office publication, Somalia Assessment 2001.
- Gadabuursi (Gadabursi)
In the south central part of Somalia the World Bank shows the following clan tree:
- Habar Je'lo
- Habar Awal
- Habar Tol
- Abdi Sinimo, musician who established Balwo lyrical genre
- Sheikh Abdurahman Sheikh Nuur, inventor of the Borama script
- Hassan Sheikh Mumin, author of Shabeel Naagood or (Leopard among the Women)
- Khadija Qalanjo, prominent singer
- Dahir Riyale Kahin, third president of Somaliland
- Ahmed Ismail Samatar, James Wallace Professor and Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College
- Abdi Ismail Samatar, Professor of Geography at the University of Minnesota
- Abdirahman Saylici, Vice President of Somaliland