Tribal Politics

The population of Siwa is divided into tribes (kabila), with the broadest division between Easterners and Westerners. The Eastern families were the original builders of the Shali-fortified town, and the Westerners arrived later (local history has them as a mixed group of Berbers and Arabs who were brought in after the town was built). The Eastern tribe divided into three tribes, one of which (the Adadsa) then further subdivided into another three. The Western Tribe subdivided once, into three. Each of these tribes is headed by a hereditary leader (the Sheikh al Kabila) who is responsible for meting out justice, maintaining the peace, and negotiating on behalf of the tribe. He maintains land ownership records and adjudicates conflicts through meetings known as meiyad. In modern times, the Sheikh al Kabila has also become the intermediary between state institutions and the people of his tribe.

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