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Chad - The Society and Environment

GEOGRAPHIC VARIATION, ETHNIC and linguistic diversity, and religious differences have presented serious obstacles to nation building in Chad. A range of environments has contributed to the evolution of a variety of life-styles and social structures, including nomadic societies in the Sahara Desert in the north, seminomadic (or semisedentary) peoples in the Sahel in the center, and agricultural communities in the soudanian south. With three of Africa's four major language families represented within its borders, Chad's peoples do not share broad cultural characteristics, as do, for example, the Bantu peoples of countries in central, eastern, and southern Africa. Religion also divides Chad's people among followers of classical African religions, Islam, and Christianity. Ethnic differences often overlay and intensify these divisions.

Preoccupied with assuring the country's survival, successive Chadian governments have had little motivation or resources to deal with urgent social and economic problems. Up-to-date population data--necessary for reliable development planning--are lacking; however, a census scheduled for 1989 promised to remedy this problem partially.

Other challenges include providing adequate education and health care. Starting in the mid-1960s, civil strife has undermined the Chadian goal of universal primary school education. It has also brought the exile of much of the country's intellectual community and the flight of foreign personnel who had staffed institutions of higher learning. Health care has fared even more poorly than has education. Although the number of medical facilities of all kinds seems to have grown between the early 1970s and the early 1980s, the number of trained personnel has not kept pace. And once again, the violence of war and discontent with the government in rural areas have provoked the closing of many facilities and the flight of their staffs.


In the late 1980s, demographic data for Chad were very incomplete. One of the most important demographic techniques is projection from one set of data to anticipate the evolution of the population, but the lack of a national census in Chad has made applying such a technique difficult. In addition, population projections assume that the population has evolved with regularity since the last collection of data. In Chad, domestic conflict, foreign military occupation of part of its territory, and serious famines, from 1968 through 1973 and in the early 1980s, have disrupted the regular change of the population. As a result, many population estimates were probably inaccurate. In 1988 most population estimates continued to be based on projections from partial studies made in 1964 and 1968 by the National Institute of Economic and Statistical Studies (Institut National des Etudes Statistiques et Economiques--INSEE) in France and by the Chadian government. These survey data, projected forward, were the major reference sources for the Chadian government and for many international agencies and foreign governments. Two organizations, the Sahel Institute (Institut du Sahel--INSAH) and the Population Reference Bureau (PRB), gave different figures for Chad's population in 1985. The first organization estimated the population at almost 5 million; the second, at 5.2 million. In the late 1980s, cognizant of the need for demographic data for planning, the Ministry of Planning and Reconstruction and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa began planning the first national census for 1989.

Estimates of total population acquire greater meaning when the processes behind them are examined more closely. Population change is the sum of two sets of additions and two sets of subtractions. First, there are additions through births. In mid-1987 the PRB estimated Chad's birthrate at 43 live births per 1,000 inhabitants annually (the world average was 28 in 1987). The same organization suggested that, on average, Chadian women gave birth to 5.9 children over their reproductive years, a slightly lower number than the 6.3 average for Africa women as a whole.

Second, there are additions through immigration. Although ethnic, political, and economic ties connect most regions of Chad with neighboring states, such links probably have not brought a large number of permanent immigrants. By the late 1980s, Chadians who had fled the civil strife in the southern and central parts of the country during the late 1970s and early 1980s apparently had returned in large numbers. Nonetheless, overall immigration probably has not exceeded emigration.

Subtractions for population decrease also are calculated for two sets of events. First, there are subtractions through deaths. In the mid-1980s, the PRB estimated Chad's mortality rate at 23 deaths annually per 1,000 inhabitants--one of the highest mortality rates in the world (the global average stood at 10 in 1987). Civilian and military deaths, resulting from warfare, poor health conditions, and drought undoubtedly have contributed to this high mortality rate. The yearly infant mortality rate (the number of children per 1,000 births who die before age one) was also extremely high in Chad, estimated by INSAH and the PRB at 155 and 143, respectively. Among children, a second peak in mortality occurs after weaning (from about one and one-half to two years of age), when they are deprived of their mothers' natural immunities. High mortality rates are indicative of short life expectancies. In Chad, INSAH estimated the life expectancy for a female born in the period 1975-80 at 43.4 years; for a male, it was even lower--38.5 years.

Emigration is the second form of subtraction. Although the data for Chad were partial, labor migration and refugee flight were the two major types of emigration. In recent decades, some of the old labor migration streams have continued, such as that to Sudan, and newer ones have joined them, such as those to Nigeria and the oil-rich countries of the Middle East during the petroleum boom of the 1970s and early 1980s.

Since independence, refugee flight has been a major component of emigration. In the late 1960s, troubles in eastern and southeastern Chad provoked emigration to Sudan. Patterns of flight have shifted with shifts in the theater of conflict. Following the battles of N'Djamena in 1979 and 1980, many residents sought refuge across the Chari River in neighboring Cameroon. Violence against southerners in N'Djamena brought further emigration, and the de facto partitioning of the country during the early 1980s brought retribution against northern merchants living in the southern cities of Moundou and Sarh. Although some of these people later returned to their homes within Chad, others sought refuge in Cameroon, Nigeria, and Central African Republic; some members of the bourgeoisie and intelligentsia fled to Western Europe. In the 1980s, the conflict shifted north, where the Chadian and Libyan armies clashed repeatedly. These campaigns marked a major escalation in violence and probably provoked flight as well.

As a population, Chadians were quite young. The PRB estimated that 44 percent of the population was younger than fifteen in 1987. Only 2 percent of the population was older than sixty-four. These percentages are best appreciated as components of what is called the dependency ratio--the combined percentage of people less than fifteen and more than sixty-four, who, because they are considered only marginally productive, must be supported by the remainder of the population. Although some social scientists and development analysts challenge this conventional definition, pointing out that in rural Africa and urban shantytowns children may indeed add to the household income, most demographers agree that the measure is nonetheless a good general indicator of the dependency burden. In Chad, then, the 46 percent of the population less than fifteen and more than sixty-four essentially had to be supported by the other 54 percent. Although this ratio was not the highest in Africa, the level of dependency was difficult for Chadian society to bear, in part because poor health and inadequate nutrition already took such a high toll among the working population, and because mechanization had not raised productivity.

In terms of the sex structure of the population, the 1964 INSAH survey calculated that there were 90 males for every 100 females; in urban centers, the male percentage of the population rose slightly, to 96 for every 100 women. A small part of this imbalance may be attributed to higher male mortality rates, but male labor migration is probably a much more important factor. The absence of a census or more recent demographic surveys made it impossible to determine if the Chadian Civil War had affected the sex ratio.

In the late 1980s, Chad had a low population density of about 3.8 people per square kilometer. The population was also very unevenly distributed because of contrasts in climate and physical environment. The Saharan zone was the least densely populated. In 1982 it was estimated to have a population density of 0.15 per square kilometer. Most inhabitants of the region lived in its southern reaches, south of 16° north latitude.

The sahelian zone had a population density of seven persons per square kilometer in 1971. Within the region, broad spectrums of rainfall and environment and the diverse life-styles that accompany them have resulted in widely varying population densities, from very low among the nomads in the northern regions to much higher among the agricultural populations in the south.

The highest population densities--about thirteen people per square kilometer--occurred in the soudanian zone. In 1971 almost 45 percent of the total Chadian population lived in this region. Chad was quite rural. The PRB placed the urban population of Africa at 31 percent in 1985, whereas Chad's urban population was estimated at only 22 percent. Although the urban population remained relatively small, urbanization accelerated in the 1980s. Whereas in 1971 only seven centers had more than 10,000 inhabitants, INSAH estimated that by 1978 nine cities had populations of more than 20,000. From a total of 132,502 enumerated in the urban census of 1968, N'Djamena's population grew to 150,000 in 1971, nearly doubling to 280,000 in 1978. Although much of the population abandoned the city during the battles of 1979 and 1980, most people returned over the next several years. In 1983 the Chadian government predicted that urban growth would continue at an annual rate of 7.8 percent for the capital and 4.6 percent for secondary cities such as Moundou, Sarh, and Abéché.

Updated population figures for Chad.


The people of Chad speak more than 100 different languages and divide themselves into many ethnic groups. It is important to note, however, that language and ethnicity are not the same. Moreover, neither element can be tied to a particular physical type. The commonly held image that Africa is populated by discrete ethnic groups (or "tribes") who live isolated from each other, guarding their languages and customs jealously and intermarrying only with each other, is a stereotype that hinders understanding of the dynamics of African societies. In Chad, European conquest and administration intensified feelings of ethnic separateness by drawing local boundaries along perceived ethnic lines. The Europeans also appointed chiefs and other local African authorities who had little legitimacy over the groups they were to lead. In general, the French favored southerners over northerners and settled populations over nomads. This bias continued after independence and has been an important element in internecine conflict.

Although the possession of a common language shows that its speakers have lived together and have a common history, peoples also change languages. This is particularly so in Chad, where the openness of the terrain, marginal rainfall, frequent drought and famine, and low population densities have encouraged physical and linguistic mobility. Slave raids among non-Muslim peoples, internal slave trade, and exports of captives northward from the ninth to the twentieth centuries also have resulted in language changes.

Anthropologists view ethnicity as being more than genetics. Like language, ethnicity implies a shared heritage, partly economic, where people of the same ethnic group may share a livelihood, and partly social, taking the form of shared ways of doing things and organizing relations among individuals and groups. Ethnicity also involves a cultural component made up of shared values and a common worldview. Like language, ethnicity is not immutable. Shared ways of doing things change over time and alter a group's perception of its own identity.

Not only do the social aspects of ethnic identity change but the biological composition (or gene pool) also may change over time. Although most ethnic groups emphasize intermarriage, people are often proscribed from seeking partners among close relatives--a prohibition that promotes biological variation. In all groups, the departure of some individuals or groups and the integration of others also changes the biological component.

The Chadian government has avoided official recognition of ethnicity. With the exception of a few surveys conducted shortly after independence, little data were available on this important aspect of Chadian society. Nonetheless, ethnic identity was a significant component of life in Chad.

Chad's languages fall into ten major groups, each of which belongs to either the Nilo-Saharan, Afro-Asiatic, or Congo-Kordofanian language family. These represent three of the four major language families in Africa; only the Khoisan languages of southern Africa are not represented. The presence of such different languages suggests that the Lake Chad Basin may have been an important point of dispersal in ancient times.

<>Nilo-Saharan Languages
<>Afro-Asiatic Languages
<>Congo-Kordofanian Languages

Chad - Nilo-Saharan Languages

Similarities of language do not imply other congruences. Nilo-Saharan language speakers, for example, display a variety of life-styles. Nomads in the Sahara, semisedentary and sedentary peoples in the Sahel, and sedentary populations in the soudanian zone all may speak Nilo-Saharan languages.

Central Saharan Languages

The distribution and numbers of Central Saharan language speakers probably have changed dramatically since independence. The Chadian Civil War and the Chadian-Libyan conflict have disrupted life in the northern part of the country. Also, the rise to power of two heads of state from the far north, Goukouni Oueddei and Hissein Habré, may have inspired the migration of northerners to the national capital and a greater integration of the region into the life of the country.

Teda and Daza are related languages in the Central Saharan group. Teda is spoken by the Toubou people of the Tibesti Mountains and by some inhabitants of nearby oases in northeastern Niger and southwestern Libya. Daza speakers live south of the Toubou in Borkou Subprefecture and Kanem Prefecture, between the Tibesti Mountains and Lake Chad.

Despite their shared linguistic heritage, the Toubou and the Daza do not think of themselves as belonging to a common group. Moreover, each is further divided into subgroups identified with particular places. Among the Toubou, the Teda of Tibesti are the largest subgroup. Daza speakers separate themselves into more than a dozen groups. The Kreda of Bahr el Ghazal are the largest. Next in importance are the Daza of Kanem. Smaller and more scattered subgroups include the Charfarda of Ouaddaï; the Kecherda and Djagada of Kanem; the Doza, Annakaza, Kokorda, Kamadja, and Noarma of Borkou; and the Ounia, Gaeda, and Erdiha of Ennedi.

About one-third of the Teda are nomads. The remainder, along with all of the Daza, are seminomadic, moving from pasture to pasture during eight or nine months each year but returning to permanent villages during the rains. In general, the Teda herd camels and live farther north, where they move from oasis to oasis. The Daza often herd camels, but they also raise horses, sheep, and goats. Their itineraries take them farther south, where some have acquired cattle (whose limited capacity to endure the heat and harsh environment of the northern regions has altered patterns of transhumance). Some cattle owners leave their animals with herders in the south when they return north; others choose to remain in the south and entrust their other animals to relatives or herders who take them north.

Kanembu is the major language of Lac Prefecture and southern Kanem Prefecture. Although Kanuri, which derived from Kanembu, was the major language of the Borno Empire, in Chad it is limited to handfuls of speakers in urban centers. Kanuri remains a major language in southeastern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, and northern Cameroon.

In the early 1980s, the Kanembu constituted the greatest part of the population of Lac Prefecture, but some Kanembu also lived in Chari-Baguirmi Prefecture. Once the core ethnic group of the Kanem-Borno Empire, whose territories at one time included northeastern Nigeria and southern Libya, the Kanembu retain ties beyond the borders of Chad. For example, close family and commercial ties bind them with the Kanuri of northeastern Nigeria. Within Chad, many Kanembu of Lac and Kanem prefectures identify with the Alifa of Mao, the governor of the region in precolonial times.

Baele (also erroneously called Bideyat) is the language of the Bideyat of Ennedi Subprefecture and the Zaghawa of Biltine Prefecture. Despite this similarity, the Zaghawa and the Bideyat exhibit diverse life-styles. Some Zaghawa live in a centralized sultanate, with a ruling family of Dadjo origin; these Zaghawa are semisedentary and prominent in local and regional commerce. Other Zaghawa, however, living primarily in the south, are nomads. The Bideyat also are nomadic.

Ouaddaïan Languages

The origins of Ouaddaïan languages remain obscure, although their distribution implies origins farther east, an interpretation supported by oral traditions. Speakers of Ouaddaïan languages may have moved westward to avoid Arab immigration from the east. Another theory suggests that speakers of Ouaddaïan languages once were continuously distributed throughout the region but subsequently lost ground as the population accepted Arabic.

Although some authorities separate Tama, Dadjo, and Mimi, others consider them to be part of a larger Ouaddaïan group, a linguistic archipelago stretching from western Sudan to central Chad. In Chad they are found in Biltine, Ouaddaï, and Guéra prefectures.

Tama languages are spoken in Biltine and northern Ouaddaï Prefectures, and include Tama, Marari (Abou Charib), Sungor, Kibet, Mourro, and Dagel. The Tama speakers, who live in eastern Biltine Prefecture near the Sudanese border, are the largest of these groups. Although they live in the arid Sahel, crop rotation has allowed them to settle in permanent villages. The Tama live in cantons of several thousand people, each administered by a canton chief. For several centuries, central authority has been vested in sultans believed to be of Dadjo origin, who are enthroned in ceremonies at the ruins of Nir, the precolonial capital.

The Marari and Abou Charib, sedentary peoples sharing a Tama language, live south and west, respectively, of the Tama in Ouaddaï Prefecture. Although they speak a Tama language, their traditions suggest descent from the Tunjur, migrants from Sudan who once ruled the sultanate of Wadai. To the west of the Tama and northwest of the Marari and Abou Charib are the Sungor, another sedentary population. The Sungor consider themselves to be of Yemeni ancestry, a popular and prestigious Islamic pedigree among Muslims of the region. Despite speaking a Tama language, Sungor society and customs most resemble those of the Maba.

The Dadjo language has eastern and western dialects. Once the rulers of the sultanate of Wadai, the Dadjo people were separated into two groups during the fifteenth century. At that time, the Tunjur conquered Wadai, and some Dadjo people fled west. The eastern Dadjo remained in southern present-day Ouaddaï Prefecture and, following defeat by the Tunjur, founded a new sultanate with its capital at Goz Béïda. Their descendants are primarily farmers. The western Dadjo live among the Hajerai peoples of northern Guéra Prefecture. Cognizant of their common origin, the eastern and western groups permit intermarriage.

Mimi is the least frequently spoken Ouaddaïan language. Mimi speakers who live in the plains use Arabic to communicate with their neighbors; Mimi speakers who live in the mountains generally speak Zaghawa with other highland dwellers.

Mabang Languages

Mabang languages are concentrated in the highlands of Ouaddaï Prefecture, but they are also spoken in Biltine and Salamat prefectures. Maba is the major language of the group. Maba speakers are semisedentary farmers who combine millet cultivation during the rainy season with herding during the drier parts of the year. For the last several decades, many Maba laborers have migrated to Sudan. The core ethnic group of the sultanate of Wadai, the Maba played a central role in that state even after conquest by rulers from the east in the seventeenth century. Wadai sultans frequently took Maba women as first wives, and the first dignitary of the court usually was also Maba.

Massalit, another major Mabang language, is spoken by people who live east of the Maba along the Sudan border. Complemented by a far larger Massalit population in Sudan, the Chadian Massalit are farmers who rely on passing animal herds to fertilize their fields.

Massalat speakers are found farther west and are divided into two groups, one in eastern Batha near Ouaddaï Prefecture, and the other in northern Guéra Prefecture. Once part of the larger Massalit community, the Massalat have diverged from the main group. The two languages are sufficiently different that linguists classify Massalat in a separate subgroup. In addition, the Massalat physically and culturally resemble the Dadjo more closely than they do their relatives to the east.

Runga is spoken over a large part of Salamat Prefecture and in a small part of Central African Republic. Many Runga speakers are farmers who grow millet, sorghum, peanuts, and cotton. In the nineteenth century, the Runga were ruled by sultans from a capital in the Salamat region. Herders of Wadai, the Runga also founded Dar al Kuti, the most important precolonial state in northern Central African Republic. Extensive slave raiding by the Sudanese warlord Rabih Fadlallah in the 1890s decimated the Runga in Chad; as late as the 1960s, they numbered only about 12,000.

Other Mabang languages spoken by much smaller populations include Marfa, Karanga, and Kashméré, found in the highlands north of Abéché; Koniéré, spoken in a small region just east of Abéché; and Bakhat, a language of restricted distribution, found west of Abéché.

Sara-Bongo-Baguirmi Languages

Classified in the Chari-Nile subfamily of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Sara-Bongo-Baguirmi languages are scattered from Lake Chad to the White Nile in southwestern Sudan. Unlike Central Saharan languages, when mapped out they form a patchwork quilt rather than a solid band.

Kouka, Bilala, and Medogo, languages spoken around Lake Fitri in southwestern Batha Prefecture, are the northernmost members of this subgroup. These languages are mutually comprehensible, and the peoples who use them are thought to be descendants of the core ethnic groups of the precolonial sultanate of Yao (a state founded by the Bulala, who ruled a vast region extending as far west as Kanem in the fifteenth century). The Kouka, Bilala, and Medogo populations intermarry and share institutions for the mediation of disputes. The groups farm and raise animals, which they sometimes entrust to neighboring Arabs. Their similarities are so striking that they are sometimes classed together as the Lisi.

Barma is spoken in Chari-Baguirmi Prefecture by the Baguirmi, the core population of another precolonial state. Today the Baguirmi are concentrated in and around Massenya, a city southeast of N'Djamena named for their precolonial capital. The Baguirmi identify themselves as either river Barmi or land Barmi. The land Barmi farm millet, sorghum, beans, sesame, peanuts, and cotton. The river Barmi fish along carefully demarcated stretches of the Chari and Bahr Ergig rivers. Arabic loanwords are numerous in Barma, a product of the Baguirmi's adoption of Islam and their interaction with neighboring Arab pastoralists over a long period of time. Long-standing economic ties with the West have also prompted the incorporation of a Kanuri commercial vocabulary.

Kenga, found among the Hajerai in Guéra Prefecture, is closely related to Barma. Although its speakers are said to have played a prominent role in the foundation of the Bagirmi Empire, today they resemble their highland neighbors more closely than their more distant linguistic relatives.

Sara languages of southern Chad constitute the quilt's largest patch, stretching from Logone Occidental Prefecture to eastern Moyen-Chari Prefecture. Linguists divide Sara languages into five subgroups. Sara languages seem to have drifted into southern Chad from the northeast. Eventually, Sara speakers left behind the northern languages of the group as they made their way to the richer hunting grounds and agricultural land south of the Chari River. This must have occurred very long ago, however, because the Sara languages and those of the northern members of the group are mutually unintelligible. Moreover, Sara oral traditions record only short-range migrations of Sara speakers in the south, suggesting that movement from the north happened earlier.


Boua languages are distributed along the middle Chari River in Moyen-Chari Prefecture and in central Guéra Prefecture. Like the Sara, they are divided into five subgroups: Boua proper, Neillim, Tounia, Koke, and Fanian or Mana. Only a few thousand people speak Boua languages, but it is believed that their ancestors preceded Sara-speaking settlers in the Chari Valley. Several centuries ago, all the Boua subgroups may have lived farther north in Guéra Prefecture. Under pressure from slave raiders along the Islamic frontier, some Boua speakers probably migrated southward. Although speakers of Boua proper submitted to neighboring slave raiders from the Bagirmi Empire, they in turn raided their Neillim neighbors to the southeast. Similarly, the Neillim attacked the Tounia to their southeast. The Tounia sought refuge among the Kaba (a Sara subgroup) on the site of the present-day city of Sarh.

Chad - Afro-Asiatic Languages

Two major Afro-Asiatic language are represented in Chad. Chadic languages stretch from the western borders of Nigeria to Ouaddaï Prefecture, and Arabic-speaking populations are scattered throughout the Sahel. Chadic Languages

Most speakers of Chadic languages, including the 20 million speakers of Hausa, the major Chadic language, live west of Chad. The peculiar east-west distribution of Chadic along the southern fringe of the Sahara from western Nigeria to eastern Chad has led some experts to suggest that ancestral Chadic languages were spoken by peoples living along the southern shores of the Paleochadian Sea. The first cluster of languages is closely associated with water--the lake, the delta, the Chari and Logone rivers, and their adjacent floodplains. Water also is important to the economies of most of the populations speaking these languages. In the second cluster, Chadic speakers are descended from refugee populations who perhaps sought shelter in the highlands when the contraction of the sea and the increased aridity of the region allowed the penetration of more aggressive herding populations.

Within Chad, the Chadic languages are distributed in two patterns. The first extends from Lake Chad south along the Chari and Logone rivers to Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture. Individual languages fall into five groups, arrayed from north to southeast.

Buduma-Kouri is spoken by two groups of lake people who intermarry despite some social differences. The Buduma, who believe that they are the original inhabitants of Lake Chad, live on its northern islands and shores. In the past, the Buduma spent much of their time fishing on lake islands. In recent times, however, their economic activities have diversified to include farming and herding. Active in commerce between Chad and Nigeria, the Buduma raise cattle whose very large and hollow horns serve as flotation devices that permit their owners to "herd" them in the lake itself. The lake has long protected the Buduma, allowing them to maintain a separate identity. Despite centuries of contact with Islamic states around the lake, for example, they maintained their own religion until the early twentieth century.

The Kouri, who speak the same language, live on the shores and islands of the southern part of Lake Chad. More devout Muslims, the Kouri believe that they are descendants of Muslim migrants from Yemen and that they are related to the Kanembu, whose medieval empire sponsored the spread of Islam in the region. Kouri economic activities resemble those of the Buduma; however, the absence of polders along this part of the lakeshore has led the Kouri to confine farming to small plots around their villages. Although they confine their herds to the islands during the dry season, they may entrust them to neighboring Kanembu for pasturing during the rains.

Kotoko is spoken along the lower Chari and Logone rivers by peoples thought to be descendants of the legendary Sao. Divided into small states with fortified cities as their capitals, the Kotoko consider themselves "owners of the land" by virtue of their long residence, and other peoples in the region recognize this claim. For example, neighboring Arabs pay tribute for the right to farm and herd. The Kotoko also have a monopoly over fishing and water transport. Rights to the waters of the Logone and Chari rivers are divided among the cities, each of which has a "chief of the waters," whose communications with the water spirits determine the opening of the fishing season. Non-Kotoko must pay for the right to fish. Outnumbered in their own lands by Bororo and Arab herders, only about 7,000 Kotoko lived in Chad in the late 1960s; three times as many lived across the Logone in Cameroon. Strife in Chad -- particularly the troubles in N'Djamena in 1979 and 1980--probably has accelerated the emigration of the Kotoko from Chad.

Massa languages, including Massa, Moussey, Marba, and Dari, are centered in southern Chari-Baguirmi and Mayo-Kebbi prefectures. The Massa proper farm, herd, and fish in floodplains of the middle Chari. Repeatedly through their history, the Massa suffered raids from their Muslim neighbors--the Kanuri of the Borno Empire, the Barma of the Bagirmi Empire, and the Fulani of Cameroon. The Massa survived these military onslaughts, in part because their villages, which crown the hills in the Chari floodplain, afforded protection for much of the year. Having survived these threats, in recent years the Massa ironically have adopted Muslim dress and have superimposed some features of Fulani political structure on their local "chiefs of the lands." The other speakers of Massa languages resemble the Massa proper. Estimated to number 120,000 in the late 1970s, the largest group among them is the Moussey, who live in and around Gounou Gaya in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture.

The last cluster of Chadic languages in this first distribution encompasses Nachéré, Lélé, Gablai, and Guidar spoken primarily in Tandjilé Prefecture and with outlying languages that include Gabri (in Tandjilé Prefecture) and Toumak, Somrai, Ndam, Miltou, and Saraoua (in Moyen-Chari Prefecture). This cluster of languages forms a transition zone between the Massa and the Sara languages. The numbers of speakers of these languages are small, probably because their peoples have been absorbed by more numerous neighbors through intermarriage or emigration.

The second Chadic language distribution comprises two clusters. The first brings together the languages spoken by the Hajerai, the mountain peoples of Guéra Prefecture. These peoples are descended from refugees from the surrounding plains who sought shelter in the mountains when invaded by raiders from neighboring centralized states. Despite the presence of non-Chadic languages (such as Kenga, which is part of the Sara-Bongo-Baguirmi group), most Hajerai speak Chadic languages, such as Djongor, Dangaleat, Bidyo, Mogoum, Sokoro, Barain, and Saba. The Hajerai groups share important religious institutions, such as the margai cult of place spirits; at the same time, they maintain separate identities and refuse to intermarry. All have traditions of fierce independence. The Hajerai were among the earliest supporters of rebellion against the Chadian national government in the 1960s.

Moubi languages of Ouaddaï Prefecture make up the second cluster of this second distribution of Chadic languages. The Moubi are a sedentary people who live south of the Massalit. They grow millet, sorghum, sesame, beans, cotton, and peanuts. In recent years, they have also adopted cattle herding, a practice borrowed from the Missiriye Arab herders who regularly cross their lands and with whom the Moubi have long exchanged goods and services. Like the Hajerai, the Moubi have resisted the government since shortly after independence.


There are about thirty different dialects of Arabic in Chad. The Arabs divide themselves into three major "tribes": the Juhayna, the Hassuna, and the Awlad Sulayman. In this context, tribe refers to a group claiming descent from a common ancestor. The Juhayna, who began arriving from Sudan in the fourteenth century, are by far the most important. The Hassuna, who migrated to Chad from Libya, live in Kanem Prefecture. The Awlad Sulayman also hail from Libya, but they arrived in the nineteenth century, well after the others. Most of the Arabs are herders or farmers.

Among Arabic herdsmen, life-styles vary considerably. The different needs of camels, cattle, goats, and sheep result in different patterns of settlement and movement. In addition to herding, many Arabic speakers earn their livelihoods as small and middle-level merchants. In N'Djamena and in towns such as Sarh and Moundou, Arabic speakers dominated local commerce up until the 1970s; however, because of the anti-Muslim violence in the south in the late 1970s, many moved to central or nothern Chad.

Despite the diversity of dialects and the scattered distribution of Arabic-speaking populations, the language has had a major impact on Chad. In the Sahel, Arab herdsmen and their wives frequent local markets to exchange their animals, butter, and milk for agricultural products, cloth, and crafts. Itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in the towns play major roles in local and regional economies. As a result, Chadian Arabic (or Turku) has became a lingua franca, or trade language. Arabic also has been important because it is the language of Islam and of the Quran, its holy book. Quranic education has stimulated the spread of the language and enhanced its stature among the non-Arab Muslims of Chad.

Not all Arabic speakers are of Arab descent. The assimilation of local peoples (both free and slave) into Arabic groups has affected both the dialects and the customs of Arabic speakers in Chad. Non-Arabs also have adopted the language. To cite two examples, the Yalna and the Bandala are of Hajerai and Ouaddaïan origin, respectively, and were probably originally slaves who adopted the Arabic language of their masters. Among the Runga, who were not slaves, Arabic is also widely spoken.

Chad - Congo-Kordofanian Languages


Classified as belonging to the Niger-Congo subfamily of the Congo-Kordofanian family, languages in the Moundang-Toupouri-Mboum groups are spoken by a variety of populations in Mayo-Kebbi and Logone Oriental prefectures. These languages may be divided into seven subgroups: Moundang, Toupouri, Mboum/Laka, Kera, Mongbai, Kim, and Mesme. Speakers of Moundang, Toupouri, and Mboum/Laka are by far the most numerous of this group. Despite belonging to the same language group, these three populations have very different social structures, life-styles, and myths of origin.

Moundang is spoken by more than 100,000 people in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture; numerous Moundang speakers also live in Cameroon. The Moundang people raise millet for food and cotton for sale. They also own cattle, which are used for marriage payments, religious sacrifices, and payment of fines. Bororo herders live in the same region and often take care of Moundang livestock.

On the broadest level, the Moundang still belong to a kingdom founded two centuries ago. Although the French colonial administration and the independent Chadian governments undermined the military power of the gon lere (king), he continued to wield influence in the 1980s from his capital at Léré. On a smaller scale, clan institutions remain important. Associated with particular territories, taboos, totem animals, and marriage rules, clan government, which predates the kingdom, is much less centralized. In some respects, the two sets of institutions act as checks on each other. For example, the clans allow the king to organize manhood initiation ceremonies, central to the maintenance of Moundang identity; however, the councils of elders of each clan may offer advice to the ruler.

In the nineteenth century, the Moundang suffered frequent attacks by Fulani invaders from the west. They were never subjugated, but the close contact has resulted in the adoption of Fulani principles of political organization and dress.

Mboum/Laka speakers live in southern Logone Oriental Prefecture. About 100,000 Mboum/Laka speakers lived in Chad in the 1980s; a larger population lived across the border in Cameroon and Central African Republic. Sedentary farmers, the Mboum and the Laka probably were pushed east and south by the expansion of the Fulani over the past two centuries.

The Toupouri language and people are found in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture around the town of Fianga. Almost all of their land is cultivated, and productivity is enhanced by the use of animal fertilizer and double cropping. During the rainy season, the Toupouri raise sorghum. Berebere, a kind of millet, is grown in the drier part of the year. Cattle and fish provide additional food resources. Numbering about 100,000, the Toupouri live in the most densely populated part of Chad; some cantons reach densities of twelve people per square kilometer. Overcrowding has promoted emigration, primarily to N'Djamena and Nigeria.


Fulani speakers are not very numerous in Chad. Part of the West Atlantic subfamily of the Congo-Kordofanian family of languages, Fulani (called Peul by the French) first appeared in the Senegal River Valley in West Africa. Population growth and the vagaries of climate encouraged the eastward drift of Fulani-speaking herders through the Sahel. Some Fulani speakers adopted Islam and became very important actors in the spread of the religion and the rise of Muslim states west of Chad. Many of these people settled, taking up village or urban life and abandoning nomadism. Other Fulani speakers, however, remained loyal to their pre-Islamic faith and their nomadic life-style.

Fulani speakers arrived in Chad only in the past two centuries. In the mid-1960s, about 32,000 Fulani lived in Kanem, southern Batha, and northern Chari-Baguirmi prefectures, where they raised mainly cattle and sheep. Many of the Fulani are fervent Muslims, and some are teachers of the Quran.

Related to the Fulani ethnically and linguistically--but refusing contact--are the nomadic Bororo of western Chad. In the dry season, the Bororo pasture their animals around wells and pools in northern Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture near Bongor. After the first major rains, they leave for Kanem Prefecture, north of Lake Chad.


Also members of the Niger-Congo subfamily of the Congo-Kordofanian languages, Banda-Ngbaka languages are located in Guéra, Salamat, and Moyen-Chari prefectures. Subgroups include Sango, Bolgo, Goula, and Goula Iro. Although not spoken as a first language in Chad, Sango has been particularly important because it served as a trade language during the colonial era. Although most Banda-Ngbaka languages are found farther south in Central African Republic, the presence of these subgroups in Chad suggests that Banda-Ngbaka speakers were once much more numerous in Chad. Bolgo, found with Hajerai and Goula languages in the vicinity of Lake Iro and Lake Mamoun, is spoken by refugee populations. Populations speaking these languages are very diverse. Although the Goula speak a Banda-Ngbaka language, for example, their culture resembles that of the Sara.


The variety and number of languages in Chad are mirrored by the country's diversity of social structures. The colonial administration and independent governments have attempted to impose a "national" society on the citizenry, but for most Chadians the local or regional society remains the most important reference point outside the immediate family.

This diversity of social structure has several dimensions. For example, some social structures are small in scale, while others are huge. Among the Toubou and the Daza, some clans group only a hundred individuals. At the other extreme are the kingdoms and sultanates--found among the peoples of Ouaddaï Prefecture, the Moundang of Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture, the Barma of Chari-Baguirmi Prefecture, and the Kanembu of Kanem Prefecture, among others--which bring together thousands or even tens of thousands of people. Although these social units have enjoyed only limited formal legal recognition since the colonial epoch, they remain important institutions whose authority is recognized by their people.

Chadian social structures also differ in the way they locate people in their physical environment. Despite a sense of territory, even among such highly mobile peoples as the Toubou and Daza, the bond between an individual clan and its land is less specific than the link between the inhabitants of a densely settled farming village and its fields.

Diverse social structures foster variety in the relationships among members of a group and between people and their territory. Whereas a Toubou or a Daza is aware of her or his clan identity, she or he often lives as an individual among people of other clans. Among seminomadic Arabs of the Sahel, people identify most closely with the kashimbet, or "threshold of the house," a residential unit made up of an elder male or group of males, their wives, and descendants. Although the kashimbet does not preclude mobility, people reside most of the time with their kin. These three diversities--scale, relationships with the environment, and social links among group members--are highly conditioned by the environment and the way the society exploits it. Accordingly, the three major patterns of social structure correspond closely with the three major geographical regions of the country.

The remainder of this section examines a representative society from each region: the Toubou and Daza nomads of the Sahara, the Arab semisedentary herders of the sahelian zone, and the Sara farmers of the soudanian region.

Chad - Toubou and Daza

Toubou and Daza life centers on their livestock (their major source of wealth and sustenance) and on the scattered oases where they or their herders cultivate dates and grain. In a few places, the Toubou and Daza (or more often members of the Haddad group who work for them) also mine salt and natron, a salt like substance used for medicinal purposes and for livestock.

The Toubou family is made up of parents, children, and another relative or two. Although the husband or father is the head of the household, he rarely makes decisions without consulting his wife. When he is absent, his wife often takes complete charge, moving family tents, changing pastures, and buying and selling cattle. Although Toubou men may have several wives, few do. Families gather in larger camps during the months of transhumance. Camp membership is fluid, sometimes changing during the season and almost never remaining the same from one season to the next.

After the family, the clan is the most stable Toubou institution. Individuals identify with their clan, which has a reputed founder, a name, a symbol, and associated taboos. Clans enjoy collective priority use of certain palm groves, cultivable land, springs, and pastures; outsiders may not use these resources without clan permission. Social relations are based on reciprocity, hospitality, and assistance. Theft and murder within the clan are forbidden, and stolen animals must be returned.

Within the overall context of clan identity, however, Toubou and Daza society is shaped by the individual. Jean Chapelle, a well-known observer of Chadian societies, notes that "it is not society that forms the individual, but the individual who constructs the society most useful" for him or her. Three features of Toubou social structure make this process possible. The first is residence. In general, clan members are scattered throughout a region; therefore, an individual is likely to find hospitable clans people in most settlements or camps of any size. A second factor is the maintenance of ties with the maternal clan. Although the maternal clan does not occupy the central place of the potential clan, it provides another universe of potential ties.

Marriage creates a third set of individual options. Although relatives and the immediate family influence decisions about a marriage partner, individual preference is recognized as important. In addition, once a marriage is contracted between individuals of two clans, other clan members are forbidden to change it. The Toubou proscribe marriage with any blood relative less than four generations removed--in the words of the Toubou recorded by Chapelle, "when there are only three grandfathers."

The ownership of land, animals, and resources takes several forms. Within an oasis or settled zone belonging to a particular clan, land, trees (usually date palms), and nearby wells may have different owners. Each family's rights to the use of particular plots of land are recognized by other clan members. Families also may have privileged access to certain wells and the right to a part of the harvest from the fields irrigated by their water. Within the clan and family contexts, individuals also may have personal claims to palm trees and animals. Toubou legal customs are based on restitution, indemnification, and revenge. Conflicts are resolved in several settings. Murder, for example, is settled directly between the families of the victim and the murderer. Toubou honor requires that someone from the victim's family try to kill the murderer or a relative; such efforts eventually end with negotiations to settle the matter. Reconciliation follows the payment of the goroga, or blood price, usually in the form of camels.

Despite shared linguistic heritage, few institutions among the Toubou and the Daza generate a broader sense of identity than the clan. Regional divisions do exist, however. Among the Toubou, there are four such subgroups, the Teda of Tibesti Subprefecture being the largest. There are more than a dozen subgroups of Daza: the Kreda of Bahr el Ghazal are the largest; next in importance are the Daza of Kanem Prefecture. During the colonial period (and since independence), Chadian administrations have conferred legality and legitimacy on these regional groupings by dividing the Toubou and Daza regions into corresponding territorial units called cantons and appointing chiefs to administer them.

Only among the Toubou of the Tibesti region have institutions evolved somewhat differently. Since the end of the sixteenth century, the derde (spiritual head) of the Tomagra clan has exercised authority over part of the massif and the other clans who live there. He is selected by a group of electors according to strict rules. The derde exercises judicial rather than executive power, arbitrating conflict and levying sanctions based on a code of compensations.

Since the beginning of the civil conflict in Chad, the derde has come to occupy a more important position. In 1965 the Chadian government assumed direct authority over the Tibesti Mountains, sending a military garrison and administrators to Bardaï, the capital of Tibesti Subprefecture. Within a year, abuses of authority had roused considerable opposition among the Toubou. The derde, Oueddei Kichidemi, recognized but little respected up to that time, protested the excesses, went into exile in Libya, and, with the support of Toubou students at the Islamic University of Al Bayda, became a symbol of opposition to the Chadian government. This role enhanced the position of the derde among the Toubou. After 1967 the derde hoped to rally the Toubou to the National Liberation Front of Chad (Front de Libération Nationale du Tchad--FROLINAT). Moral authority became military authority shortly thereafter when his son, Goukouni Oueddei, became one of the leaders of the Second Liberation Army of FROLINAT. Goukouni has since become a national figure; he played an important role in the battles of N'Djamena in 1979 and 1980 and served as head of state for a time. Another northerner, Hissein Habré of the Daza Annakaza, replaced Goukouni in 1982.

Chad - Arabs

The Arabs of Chad are semisedentary (or seminomadic) peoples who herd their camels, horses, cattle, goats, and sheep on the plains of the Sahel. Except in the extreme north, they live among sedentary peoples, and in the region around N'Djamena some Arabs have adopted a more settled existence. In the rainy season, Arab groups spread out through the region; in the dry season, they live a more settled existence, usually on the dormant agricultural lands of their sedentary neighbors. They leave the far north to the Toubou, avoid the mountains of Ouaddaï and Guéra prefectures, and move south of 10° north latitude only in times of extreme drought.

The Arabs were not state builders in Chad, a role played instead by the Maba in Wadai, the Barma in Bagirmi, and the Kanembu in Kanem-Borno. The Arabs exercised great influence over all three empires, however, either by conquest (in the case of Wadai) or by converting their rulers to Islam (in the cases of Bagirmi and Kanem). As with nomads and seminomads elsewhere, the possession of camels and horses translated into military potential that commanded the respect of the settled states. For example, the Awlad Sulayman of Kanem, despite their small numbers, gained fame and fortune during the second half of the nineteenth century by playing the increasingly aggressive empire of Wadai against weaker Kanem-Borno. In the decade after 1900, they used the same tactic to enhance and enrich themselves at the expense of the French and the Sanusiyya, a Muslim religious order of Libyan origin with political and economic interests in the Lake Chad Basin.

Chadian Arabs are divided into three "tribes": the Juhayna, the Hassuna, and the Awlad Sulayman. Members of each tribe believe themselves to be descended from a common ancestor. Among the smaller social units, belief in a shared genealogy (rather than common residence or a common faith) provides a major ideological rationale for joint action.

As is true for the Toubou, the basic Arab social unit is the kashimbet, a minimal lineage made up of several generations of men, their wives, and children or grandchildren reckoned through the male line. Members of the same kashimbet live near each other and more or less follow the same route during migration. Each kashimbet is headed by an elder male, or shaykh. This aspect of the social structure is visible in the disposition of tents (or houses among the more sedentary Arabs of N'Djamena). The residence of the shaykh is often at the center of the camp or settlement, with the woven straw tents or adobe houses of his relatives arrayed around it in concentric circles. The area is surrounded by a fence or some other boundary that defines the zariba, or walled camp. Within the kashimbet, loyalty is generally intense, institutionalized relationships being reinforced by bonds of common residence and personal acquaintance.

Kinship bonds also provide the ideological basis for broader units. Led by the head of the senior lineage, who is more a "first among equals" than a chief, the shaykhs of neighboring kashimbets sometimes meet to decide matters of common interest, such as the date of the annual migration. The shaykhs' leader, or lawan, may also deal with outsiders on their behalf. He concludes contracts with farmers to allow Arabs to pass the dry season on agricultural lands and levies tribute on strangers who wish to use the group's pastures and wells.

Unlike what is found in Toubou society, marriage among the Arabs strengthens kinship ties. First, marriage is more a family than an individual concern; senior males from each family make initial contacts and eventually negotiate the marriage contract. An ideal union reinforces the social, moral, and material position of the group. Second, parallel cousin marriage (that is, union between the children of brothers or male relatives more removed), is preferred. This custom encourages the duplication of bonds within the group rather than the creation of a far-flung network of more tenuous, individual alliances, as occurs among the Toubou. Finally, the marriage ceremony is itself a community affair. Among the Toubou, marriage is associated with the feigned "stealing" of the bride from her family, whose members respond with grief and anger, but marriage among the Arabs is an expression of solidarity. The ceremony is celebrated by a faqih (Muslim religious leader), and a joyous procession of neighbors, relatives, and friends escorts the bride to the house of her husband.

Despite their wide distribution and numerous contacts with sedentary peoples, Arabs have never played a preponderant role in Chadian affairs. During the colonial period, they resisted the French, who attempted to impose a territorially defined administration but who ultimately governed through the Arabs' kin-based social structures. This inability of the colonial authorities to penetrate and change Arab social and political institutions allowed the Arabs to resist Western education and employment in the emerging capitalist economy. Their pastoral lifestyle also saved them from the forced cultivation of commercial crops that so disrupted the societies of their sedentary neighbors.

Since independence the Arabs have remained on the margins of Chadian national life. The government, dominated by southerners, suspected the Arabs of a major role in the civil strife of the late 1960s. In the Sahel, however, settled non-Arab peoples (such as the Moubi and Hajerai of Guéra Prefecture) have played a much more important role in resisting central power. Although it is true that the Arabs have opposed the government at times, they also have rallied to it. Such a pattern suggests that the Arabs have followed their time-honored prescription of keeping the state off balance to ensure maximum freedom of action.

Chad - Sara

The essential social unit of Sara society is the lineage. Called the qir ka among the eastern Sara, qin ka among those of the center, and qel ka among the western subgroups, the term actually refers to the male ancestor from whom members of the lineage believe they descend. Within the context of the qir ka, an individual identifies patrilineally. Legal identity and rights to land are determined by membership in the patrilineage. The mother's lineage, however, is not disregarded; it may offer shelter and support, when the individual is cut off from the paternal lineage, or benefit from certain kinds of labor obligations.

Although the basic social group is the lineage, the basic residential unit is the village. In general, local government takes two forms. If the villagers all belong to the same lineage, the village is governed by lineage institutions whereby the elders make important decisions, preside over important cultural rites (such as manhood initiation), and play an important role in agricultural rituals. If villagers are divided among several lineages, however, elders from the different groups may meet together to resolve common problems. In such encounters, elders of the lineage that first settled the territory preside as "first among equals."

During the colonial era, the French superimposed a territorially based administration over precolonial Sara social and political institutions. On the local level, this took the form of the canton (or county). The canton was headed by a chief named by the central government, who in turn named "village chiefs." Although candidates for such positions existed among the traditional Sara authorities, the French generally preferred to appoint collaborators who had no independent base of support. Apart from creating new political structures, the French also sought to reorganize Sara society spatially. They forced people to regroup in more compact villages along roads, causing lineages to abandon traditional lands. Despite considerable initial resistance, the colonial administration eventually succeeded in imposing these new settlement patterns and new chiefs, thus undermining Sara political and social structures. Since independence, efforts by the Chadian government to centralize authority have continued. Nonetheless, Sara institutions have retained influence, and the Sara have added new structures to reinforce Sara solidarity.


The separation of religion from social structure in Chad represents a false dichotomy, for they are perceived as two sides of the same coin. Three religious traditions coexist in Chad-- classical African religions, Islam, and Christianity. None is monolithic. The first tradition includes a variety of ancestor and/or place-oriented religions whose expression is highly specific. Islam, although characterized by an orthodox set of beliefs and observances, also is expressed in diverse ways. Christianity arrived in Chad much more recently with the arrival of Europeans. Its followers are divided into Roman Catholics and Protestants (including several denominations); as with Chadian Islam, Chadian Christianity retains aspects of pre-Christian religious belief.

The number of followers of each tradition in Chad is unknown. Estimates made in 1962 suggested that 35 percent of Chadians practiced classical African religions, 55 percent were Muslims, and 10 percent were Christians. In the 1970s and 1980s, this distribution undoubtedly changed. Observers report that Islam has spread among the Hajerai and among other non-Muslim populations of the Saharan and sahelian zones. However, the proportion of Muslims may have fallen because the birthrate among the followers of classical religions and Christians in southern Chad is thought to be higher than that among Muslims. In addition, the upheavals since the mid-1970s have resulted in brought the departure of some missionaries; whether or not Chadian Christians have been numerous enough and organized enough to have attracted more converts since that time is unknown.

<>Classical African Religions

Chad - Classical African Religions

Classical African religions regard the world as a product of a complex system of relationships among people, living and dead, and animals, plants, and natural and supernatural phenomena. This religious tradition is often called "animism" because of its central premise that all things are "animated" by life forces. The relationships among all things are ordered and often hierarchical. Human societies reflect this order, and human survival and success require that it be maintained. Antisocial acts or bad luck signal that this harmony has been upset, leading to efforts to restore it through ritual acts, such as prayers, sacrifices, libations, communions, dances, and symbolic struggles. Such intervention, it is believed, helps ward off the chaos that adversely affects people and their souls, families and communities, and crops and harvests.

Ancestors play an important role in Chadian classical religions. They are thought to span the gap between the supernatural and natural worlds. They connect these two worlds specifically by linking living lineage members with their earliest forebears. Because of their proximity, and because they once walked among the living, ancestors are prone to intervene in daily affairs. This intervention is particularly likely in the case of the recently deceased, who are thought to spend weeks or months in limbo between the living and the dead. Many religious observances include special rituals to propitiate these spirits, encourage them to take their leave with serenity, and restore the social order their deaths have disrupted.

Spirits are also numerous. These invisible beings inhabit a parallel world and sometimes reside in particular places or are associated with particular natural phenomena. Among the Mbaye, a Sara subgroup, water and lightning spirits are thought to bring violent death and influence other spirits to intervene in daily life. The sun spirit, capable of rendering service or causing harm, also must be propitiated. Spirits may live in family groups with spouses and children. They are also capable of taking human, animal, or plant forms when they appear among the living. The supernatural powers that control natural events are also of major concern. Among farming peoples, rituals to propitiate such powers are associated with the beginning and end of the agricultural cycle. Among the Sara, the new year begins with the appearance of the first new moon following the harvest. The next day, people hunt with nets and fire, offering the catch to ancestors. Libations are offered to ancestors, and the first meal from the new harvest is consumed.

Among the more centralized societies of Chad, the ruler frequently is associated with divine power. Poised at the apex of society, he or (more rarely) she is responsible for good relations with the supernatural forces that sanction and maintain the social order. For example, among the Moundang, the gon lere of Léré is responsible for relations with the sky spirits. And among the Sara Madjingay, the mbang (chief) of the village of Bédaya controls religious rituals that preserve and renew the social order. Even after the coming of Islam, the symbols of such authority reinforced the rulers of nominally Islamic states such as Wadai, Kanem-Borno, and Bagirmi.

Finally, most classical African religions involve belief in a supreme being who created the world and its inhabitants but who then retired from active intervention in human affairs. As a result, shrines to a high god are uncommon, and people tend to appeal to the lesser spirits; yet the notion of a supreme being may have helped the spread of Christianity. When missionaries arrived in southern Chad, they often used the local name of this high god to refer to the Christian supreme being. Thus, although a much more interventionist spirit, the Christian god was recognizable to the people. This recognition probably facilitated conversion, but it may also have ironically encouraged syncretism (the mixing of religious traditions), a practice disturbing to many missionaries and to Protestants in particular. Followers of classical African religions would probably not perceive any necessary contradiction between accepting the Christian god and continuing to believe in the spirits just described.

Because order is thought to be the natural, desirable state, disorder is not happenstance. Classical African religions devote considerable energy to the maintenance of order and the determination of who or what is responsible for disorder. In the case of illness, for example, it is of the greatest importance to ascertain which spirit or which person is responsible for undermining the natural order; only then is it possible to prescribe a remedy. In such circumstances, people frequently take their cases to ritual specialists, who divine the threats to harmony and recommend appropriate action. Such specialists share their knowledge only with peers. Indeed, they themselves have probably acquired such knowledge incrementally as they made their way through elaborate apprenticeships.

Although classical African religions provide institutionalized ways of maintaining or restoring community solidarity, they also allow individuals to influence the cosmic order to advance their own interests. Magic and sorcery both serve this end. From society's standpoint, magic is positive or neutral. On the one hand, magicians try to influence life forces to alter the physical world, perhaps to bring good fortune or a return to health. Sorcerers, on the other hand, are antisocial, using sorcery (or "black magic") to control or consume the vital force of others. Unlike magicians, whose identity is generally known, sorcerers hide their supernatural powers, practicing their nefarious rites in secret. When misfortune occurs, people often suspect that sorcery is at the root of their troubles. They seek counsel from diviners or magicians to identify the responsible party and ways to rectify the situation; if the disruption is deemed to threaten everyone, leaders may act on behalf of the community at large. If discovered, sorcerers are punished.

The survival of any society requires that knowledge be passed from one generation to another. In many Chadian societies, this transmission is marked by ritual. Knowledge of the world and its forces is limited to adults; among the predominantly patrilineal societies of Chad, it is further limited to men in particular. Rituals often mark the transition from childhood to adulthood. However, they actively "transform" children into adults, teaching them what adults must know to assume societal responsibilities.

Although such rites differ among societies, the Sara yondo may serve as a model of male initiation ceremonies found in Chad. The yondo takes place at a limited number of sites every six or seven years. Boys from different villages, usually accompanied by an elder, gather for the rites, which, before the advent of Western education with its nine-month academic calendar, lasted several months. In recent decades, the yondo has been limited to several weeks between academic years.

The yondo and its counterparts among other Chadian societies reinforce male bonds and male authority. Women are not allowed to witness the rite. Their initiated sons and brothers no longer eat with them and go to live in separate houses. Although rites also mark the transition to womanhood in many Chadian societies, such ceremonies are much shorter. Rather than encouraging girls to participate in the larger society, they stress household responsibilities and deference to male authority.

Chad - Islam

Tenets of Islam

"Islam" means submission to the will of God, and a Muslim is one who submits. In A.D. 610, Muhammad, an Arabian merchant of Mecca, revealed the first in a series of revelations granted him by God (Allah, in Arabic) through the archangel Gabriel. Later known simply as the Prophet, Muhammad denounced the polytheism of his fellow Meccans and preached a new order that would reinforce community solidarity. His censure of the emerging individualistic, mercantile society in Mecca eventually provoked a split in the community. In A.D. 622, Muhammad and his followers fled northwest to Yathrib, a settlement that has since come to be known simply as Medina, or "the city." This journey (called the hijra, or the flight) marks the beginning of the Islamic Era. The Muslim lunar calendar begins with this event, so that its year 1 corresponds to A.D. 622. (However, the solar and Muslim calendars are separated by more than 622 years; a lunar year has an average of 354 days and thus is considerably shorter than the 365-day solar year.) In Medina, the Prophet continued his preaching. Eventually defeating his detractors in battle, Muhammad became the temporal and spiritual leader of most of Arabia by the time of his death in A.D. 632.

In the decades after his death, Muhammad's followers collected his revelations into a single book of recitations called the Quran. During the same period, some of his close associates collected and codified the Prophet's sayings, as well as accounts of his behavior, to serve as guides for future generations. These compilations are called the hadith, or "sayings," which, along with the Quran, are central to Islamic jurisprudence.

The shahada (or profession of faith) states the central belief of Islam: "There is no god but God (Allah), and Muhammad is his Prophet." This simple testimony is repeated on many ritual occasions. When recited with conviction, it signals conversion.

The duties of a Muslim form the five pillars of the faith. These are recitation of the shahada, daily prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting (sawm), and, if possible, making the pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj).

Islam in Chad

Islam became a dynamic political and military force in the Middle East in the decades immediately following Muhammad's death. By the late seventh century A.D., Muslim conquerors had reached North Africa and moved south into the desert. Although it is difficult to date the arrival and spread of Islam in Chad, by the time Arab migrants began arriving from the east in the fourteenth century, the faith was already widespread. Instead of being the product of conquest or the imposition of political power, Islamization in Chad was gradual, the effect of the slow spread of Islamic civilization beyond its political frontiers.

Islam in Chad has adapted to its local context in many ways. For one thing, despite the presence of a large number of Arabs, Arabic is not the maternal language of the majority of Chadian Muslims. As a result, although many Chadian Muslims have attended Quranic schools, they often have learned to recite Quranic verses without understanding their meaning. Hence, perhaps even more than among those who understand Arabic, the recitation of verse has taken on a mystical character among Chadian Muslims. Islam in Chad also is syncretic. Chadian Muslims have retained and combined pre-Islamic with Islamic rituals and beliefs. Moreover, Islam in Chad was not particularly influenced by the the great mystical movements of the Islamic Middle Ages or the fundamentalist upheavals that affected the faith in the Middle East, West Africa, and Sudan. Beginning in the Middle East in the thirteenth century, Muslim mystics sought to complement the intellectual comprehension of Islam with direct religious experience through prayer, contemplation, and action. The followers of these mystics founded brotherhoods (turuq; sing., tariqa), which institutionalized their teachers' interpretations of the faith. Such organizations stimulated the spread of Islam and also provided opportunities for joint action, for the most part, which was not the case in Chad, where only two brotherhoods exist. Perhaps as a result of prolonged contact with West African Muslim traders and pilgrims, most Chadian Muslims identify with the Tijaniyya order, but the brotherhood has not served as a rallying point for unified action. Similarly, the Sanusiyya, a brotherhood founded in Libya in the mid-nineteenth century, enjoyed substantial economic and political influence in the Lake Chad Basin around 1900. Despite French fears of an Islamic revival movement led by "Sanusi fanatics," Chadian adherents, limited to the Awlad Sulayman Arabs and the Toubou of eastern Tibesti, have never been numerous.

Chapelle writes that even though Chadian Islam adheres to the Maliki legal school (which, like the other three accepted schools of Islamic jurisprudence, is based on an extensive legal literature), most Islamic education relies solely on the Quran. Higher Islamic education in Chad is all but nonexistent; thus, serious Islamic students and scholars must go abroad. Popular destinations include Khartoum and Cairo, where numerous Chadians attend Al Azhar, the most renowned university in the Islamic world.

Chadian observance of the five pillars of the faith differs somewhat from the orthodox tradition. For example, public and communal prayer occurs more often than the prescribed one time each week but often does not take place in a mosque. Moreover, Chadian Muslims probably make the pilgrimage less often than, for example, their Hausa counterparts in northern Nigeria. As for the Ramadan fast, the most fervent Muslims in Chad refuse to swallow their saliva during the day, a particularly stern interpretation of the injunction against eating or drinking between sunrise and sunset.

Finally, Chadian Islam is not particularly militant. Even if young Muslims in urban areas are aware of happenings in other parts of the Islamic world, they have not responded to fundamentalist appeals.

Chad - Christianity

Christianity arrived in Chad in the twentieth century, shortly after the colonial conquest. Contrary to the dominant pattern in some other parts of Africa, however, where the colonial powers encouraged the spread of the faith, the earliest French officials in Chad advised against it. This recommendation, however, probably reflected European paternalism and favoritism toward Islam rather than a display of liberalism. In any case, the French military administration followed such counsel for the first two decades of the century, the time it took to conquer the new colony and establish control over its people. Following World War I, however, official opposition to Christianity softened, and the government tolerated but did not sponsor missionaries.

Since World War II, Chadian Christians have had a far greater influence on Chadian life than their limited numbers suggest. The missions spread the ideology of Westernization--the notion that progress depended on following European models of development. Even more specifically, Roman Catholic mission education spread the French language. Ironically, even though Islam spread more quickly and more widely than Christianity, Christians controlled the government that inherited power from the French. These leaders imparted a Western orientation that continued to dominate in the 1980s.

Protestantism in Chad

The Protestants came to southern Chad in the 1920s. American Baptists were the first, but missionaries of other denominations and nationalities soon followed. Many of the American missions were northern offshoots of missionary networks founded farther south in the Ubangi-Chari colony (now Central African Republic) of French Equatorial Africa (Afrique Equatoriale Française). The organizational ties between the missions in southern Chad and Ubangi-Chari were strengthened by France's decision in 1925 to transfer Logone Occidental, Tandjilé, Logone Oriental, and Moyen-Chari prefectures to Ubangi-Chari, where they remained until another administrative shuffle restored them to Chad in 1932.

These early Protestant establishments looked to their own churches for material resources and to their own countries for diplomatic support. Such independence allowed them to maintain a distance from the French colonial administration. In addition, the missionaries arrived with their wives and children, and they often spent their entire lives in the region. This family-based expansion of the missionary networks was not peculiar to Chad in the 1920s. Some of the missionaries who arrived at that time had grown up with missionary parents in missions founded earlier in the French colonies to the south. Some missionary children from this era later founded missions of their own. Many remained after independence, leaving only in the early and or mid-1970s when Tombalbaye's authenticité movement forced their departure.

The puritanical message preached by many Protestant missionaries undermined the appeal of the faith. Rather than allowing a local Christian tradition to develop, the missionaries preached a fundamentalist doctrine native to parts of the United States. They inveighed against dancing, alcohol, and local customs, which they considered "superstitions." New converts found it almost impossible to observe Protestant teachings and remain within their communities. In the early years, Chadian Protestants often left their villages and settled around the missions. But abandoning village and family was a sacrifice that most people were reluctant to make.

Although language and doctrine probably discouraged conversion, the educational and medical projects of the Protestant missions probably attracted people. The missionaries set up schools, clinics, and hospitals long before the colonial administration did. In fact, the mission schools produced the first Western-educated Chadians in the 1940s and 1950s. In general, the Protestant missionary effort in southern Chad has enjoyed some success. In 1980, after a half-century of evangelization, Protestants in southern Chad numbered about 80,000.

From bases in the south, Protestants founded missions in other parts of Chad. For the most part, they avoided settling among Muslims, who were not responsive to their message. In the colonial capital of Fort-Lamy (present-day's N'Djamena), the missions attracted followers among resident southerners. The missionaries also proselytized among the non-Muslim populations of Guéra, Ouaddaï, and Biltine prefectures. Although Christianity appealed to some in the capital (there were estimated to be 18,000 Christians in N'Djamena in 1980), efforts in other parts of the Sahel were relatively unsuccessful.

In the late 1980s, the future of the Protestant missions in Chad remained unclear. As noted, many Protestant missionaries were forced to leave the country during the cultural revolution in the early and mid-1970s. Outside the south, other missions have been caught in the cross fire of warring factions. Rebel forces have pillaged mission stations, and the government has accused the missionaries of complicity with the opposition.

Roman Catholicism in Chad

The Roman Catholic missions came to Chad later than their Protestant counterparts. Isolated efforts began as early as 1929 when The Holy Ghost Fathers from Bangui founded a mission at Kou, near Moundou in Logone Occidental Prefecture. In 1934, in the midst of the sleeping sickness epidemic, they abandoned Kou for Doba in Logone Oriental Prefecture. Other priests from Ubangi-Chari and Cameroon opened missions in Kélo and Sarh in 1935 and 1939, respectively.

In 1946 these autonomous missions gave way to an institutionalized Roman Catholic presence. This late date had more to do with European politics than with events in Chad. Earlier in the century, the Vatican had designated the Chad region to be part of the Italian vicarate of Khartoum. Rather than risk the implantation of Italian missionaries during the era of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, the French administration discouraged all Roman Catholic missionary activity. For its part, the Vatican adopted the same tactic, not wishing to upset the Italian regime by transferring jurisdiction of the Chad region to the French. As a consequence of their defeat in World War II, however, the Italians lost their African colonies. This loss cleared the way for a French Roman Catholic presence in Chad, which a decree from Rome formalized on March 22, 1946.

This decree set up three religious jurisdictions that eventually became four bishoprics. The first, administered by the Jesuits, had its seat in N'Djamena. Although its jurisdiction included the eight prefectures in the northern and eastern parts of the country, almost all the Roman Catholics in sahelian and Saharan Chad lived in the capital. The diocese of N'Djamena also served as the archdiocese of all Chad. The second bishopric, at Sarh, also was delegated to the Jesuits. Its region included Salamat and Moyen-Chari prefectures. The third and fourth jurisdictions had their headquarters in Pala and Moundou and were delegated to the Oblats de Marie and Capuchin orders. The Pala bishopric served Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture, while the bishopric of Moundou was responsible for missions in Logone Occidental and Logone Oriental prefectures. By far the most important jurisdiction in 1970, Pala included 116,000 of Chad's 160,000 Catholics.

The relatively slow progress of the Roman Catholic Church in Chad has several causes. Although Roman Catholicism has been much more open to local cultures than Protestantism, the doctrine of celibacy probably has deterred candidates for the priesthood. Insistence on monogamy also has undoubtedly made the faith less attractive to some potential converts, particularly wealthy older men able to afford more than one wife.

The social works of the Roman Catholic Church have made it an important institution in Chad. Like their Protestant counterparts, the Roman Catholic missions have a history of social service. In the 1970s, along with priests, the staffs of most establishments included brothers and nuns who worked in the areas of health, education, and development. Many of the nuns were trained medical professionals who served on the staffs of government hospitals and clinics. It was estimated that 20,000 Chadians attended Roman Catholic schools in 1980. Adult literacy classes also reached beyond the traditional school-aged population. In the area of development, as early as the 1950s Roman Catholic missions in southern Chad set up rural development centers whose clientele included non-Christians as well as Christians.


The establishment of Protestant mission schools in southern Chad in the 1920s, followed by Roman Catholic and colonial state establishments in later decades, marked the beginning of Western education in Chad. From the outset, the colonial administration required that all instruction be in French, with the exception of religion classes, which could be taught in local languages. As early as 1925, the state imposed a standard curriculum on all institutions wishing official recognition and government subsidies. The state thus extended its influence to education, even though the majority of Chadian students attended private mission schools before World War II.

Education in Chad has focused on primary instruction. Until 1942 students who desired a secular secondary education had to go to schools in Brazzaville, the capital of the AEF. This restriction obviously limited the number of secondary-school students. Between World War I and World War II, only a dozen Chadians studied in Brazzaville. Once in Brazzaville, students received technical instruction rather than a liberal arts education, entering three-year programs designed to produce medical aides, clerks, or low-level technicians. State secondary schools were opened in Chad in 1942, but recognized certificate programs did not begin until the mid-1950s.

At independence in 1960, the government established a goal of universal primary education, and school attendance was made compulsory until age twelve. Nevertheless, the development of standard curricula was hampered by the limited number of schools, the existence of two- and three-year establishments alongside the standard five- and seven-year collèges and lycées, and the Muslim preference for Quranic education. Even so, by the mid-1960s 17 percent of students between the ages of six and eight were in school. This number represented a substantial increase over the 8 percent attending school in the mid-1950s and the 1.4 percent immediately after World War II. Although the academic year in Chad parallels the French schedule, running from October to June, it is not particularly appropriate for a country where the hottest part of the April and May.

Quranic schools throughout the Saharan and sahelian zones teach students to read Arabic and recite Quranic verse. Although traditional Islamic education at the secondary level has existed since the nineteenth century, students seeking advanced learning generally have studied in northern Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, or the Middle East. In Chad, modern Islamic secondary schools have included the Ecole Mohamed Illech, founded in 1918 and modeled after Egyptian educational institutions. Other schools included the Lycée Franco-Arabe, founded by the colonial administration in Abéché in 1952. The lycée offered a blend of Arabic, Quranic, and secular French education. Numerous observers believed that although the creation of a French-Islamic program of study was commendable, the administration's major objective was to counter foreign Islamic influence rather than to offer a viable alternative curriculum.

Despite the government's efforts, overall educational levels remained low at the end of the first decade of independence. In 1971 about 88 percent of men and 99 percent of women older than age fifteen could not read, write, or speak French, at the time the only official national language; literacy in Arabic stood at 7.8 percent. In 1982 the overall literacy rate stood at about 15 percent.

Major problems have hindered the development of Chadian education since independence. Financing has been very limited. Public expenditures for education amounted to only 14 percent of the national budget in 1963. Expenditures increased over the next several years but declined at the end of the decade. In 1969 funding for education dropped to 11 percent of the budget; the next year it declined still further to 9 percent. In the late 1980s, the government allotted only about 7 percent of its budget to education, a figure lower than that for all but a few African countries.

Limited facilities and personnel also have made it difficult for the education system to provide adequate instruction. Overcrowding is a major problem; some classes have up 100 students, many of whom are repeaters. In the years just after independence, many primary-school teachers had only marginal qualifications. On the secondary level, the situation was even worse; at the end of the 1960s, for example, the Lycée Ahmad Mangué in Sarh (formerly Fort-Archambault) had only a handful of Chadians among its several dozen faculty members. During these years, Chad lacked sufficient facilities for technical and vocational education to train needed intermediate-level technicians, and there was no university.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chad made considerable progress in dealing with problems of facilities and personnel. To improve instruction, review sessions and refresher programs have been instituted for primary-school teachers. On the secondary level, increasing numbers of Chadians have taken their places in the ranks of the faculty. Furthermore, during the 1971-72 school year, the Université du Tchad opened its doors.

Another problem at independence was that the French curricula of Chadian schools limited their effectiveness. Primary instruction was in French, although most students did not speak that language when they entered school, and teaching methods and materials were often poorly suited to the rural settings of most schools. In addition, the academic program inherited from the French did not prepare students for employment options in Chad. Beginning in the late 1960s, the government attempted to address these problems. A number of model schools discarded the French-style of a formal, classical education in favor of a new approach that taught children to reinterpret and modify their social and economic environment. Rather than teaching French as it was taught in French schools to French children, the model schools taught it more appropriately as a foreign language. These new schools also introduced basic skills courses in the fourth year of primary school. Students who would probably not go on to secondary school were given the chance to attend agricultural training centers.

Unfortunately, all of the preceeding problems were complicated by a fourth difficulty: the Chadian Civil War. Little has been written specifically about how this conflict has disrupted education, but several effects can reasonably be surmised. Lack of security in vast parts of the country undoubtedly has made it difficult to send teachers to their posts and to maintain them there, which has been particularly Problenatic because as government employees, teachers often have been identified with government policies. In addition, the mobility occasioned by the war has played havoc with attempts to get children to attend classes regularly. The diversion of resources to the conflict has also prevented the government from maintaining the expenditure levels found at independence, much less augmenting available funds. Finally, the violence has taken its toll among teachers, students, and facilities. One of the more dramatic instances of this was the destruction and looting of primary schools, lycées, and even the national archives attached to the Université du Tchad during the battles of N'Djamena in 1979 and 1980.

To its credit, the government has made major efforts to overcome these problems. In 1983 the Ministry of Planning and Reconstruction reported that the opening of the 1982-83 school year was the most successful since the upheavals of 1979. In 1984 the Université du Tchad, the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, and the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics reopened their doors as well.

In the late 1980s, the Ministry of Education had administrative responsibility for all formal schooling. Because of years of civil strife, however, local communities had assumed many of the ministry's functions, including the construction and maintenance of schools, and payment of teachers' salaries.

Primary Education

In the late 1980s, primary education in Chad consisted of a six-year program leading to an elementary school certificate. In the south, most students began their studies at the age of six; in the north, they tended to be somewhat older. With the exception of schools that followed experimental programs, the curriculum adhered to the French model. Courses included reading, writing, spelling, grammar, mathematics, history, geography, science, and drawing.

Primary-school enrollment for the 1986-87 school year was more than 300,000 students. There were 6,203 instructors teaching in 1,650 schools, but 10 percent of the instructors were in nonteaching positions, yielding a pupil-to-teacher ratio of about sixty to one. Only about 40 percent of all primary-school-aged children attended class, and attendance was much greater in the south than in the Sahel or in the northern parts of the country. Approximately 2.8 percent of primaryschool children were enrolled in private schools, and most of these were in Roman Catholic mission schools concentrated in the south or near the capital.

Secondary Education

In 1983 secondary education in Chad continued to follow French models. Primary-school graduates competed for entrance into two types of liberal arts institutions, the collège d'enseignement général (called a collège, or CEG) or the lycée. The collège offered a four-year course of study, and the lycée offered a seven-year program. In both institutions, students took a general examination at the end of four years. Collège students who passed could be allowed to transfer to a lycée to complete their studies; successful lycée students continued at their institutions. At the end of seven years of secondary education, all students took comprehensive exams for the baccalaureate degree, called the bac, a requirement for admission to a university.

Students with primary-school certificates interested in teaching careers could enroll in a collège or lycée, or they could enter a teacher training school. The normal school program was six years long. The first four years were devoted to general education, much the same as at the collège or lycée, and the last two years concentrated on professional training. Students finishing this course were awarded an elementary-level teaching certificate. In 1986-87 Chad had sixty-one collèges and lycées. More than half of these schools were located in the N'Djamena area. There were 43,357 secondary students enrolled in the 1986-87 school year. In the 1983-84 school year, 5,002 collège students took the exam, with a success rate of 43.5 percent, or 2,174 students; 3,175 students took the bac, and 36.9 percent, or 1,173 students, passed. Although still low, the numbers of examination candidates suggested major improvements over 1960, when 2,000 students attended general secondary schools, and over 1968-69, when enrollment stood at 8,724. Finally, during the 1986-87 school year, Chad had five institutions for training primary-school teachers, with a enrollment of 1,020 students.

Higher Education

When the country became independent in 1960, Chad had no university. For the first decade of the nation's life, students who wished to study beyond the secondary level had to go abroad. In the 1966-67 school year, eighty-three Chadians were studying outside the country; the following year, this number rose to 200. In the early years, almost all students seeking advanced education were male. The largest number went to France (30 percent in the academic year 1966-67, for example), but some Chadians studied in Belgium, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Congo. At that time, most students were pursuing degrees in education, liberal arts, agriculture, and medicine.

Pursuant to an agreement with France, the Université du Tchad opened in the 1971-72 academic year. Financed almost entirely through French assistance, the faculty of 25 welcomed 200 students the first year. By the 1974-75 academic year, enrollment had climbed to 500, and the university graduated its first class of 45. The imposition of compulsory yondo rites greatly disrupted the following school year, but after the overthrow of Tombalbaye and the end of the authenticité movement, the university continued to grow. Enrollment rose from 639 in 1976-77 to a high of 1,046 in 1977-78. Enrollment then dropped slightly to 974 in 1978-79. Unfortunately, the Chadian Civil War curtailed university activities in 1979 and 1980, when the first and second battles of N'Djamena threatened facilities and students alike. With the return of relative calm in the early 1980s, the university reopened. In 1983-84 the university had 141 teachers and 1,643 students.

In addition to the university, higher learning in Chad included one advanced teacher--training institution, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, which trained secondary-school instructors. Enrollment in the 1982-83 and 1983-84 school years came to about 200 students. Degree programs included history-geography, modern literature, English and French, Arabic and French, mathematics and physics, and biology-geology-chemistry.

Vocational Education

In 1983 vocational education was offered at three lycées techniques industrielles (in Sarh, N'Djamena, and Moundou), and the Collège d'Enseignement Technique in Sarh. Enrollment figures for three of the four technical schools stood at 1,490 in 1983.

Primary-school graduates interested in technical or vocational training could follow two courses. They either could enter a firstlevel , three-year program (première cycle) at a collège (after which they could transfer to one of the four technical schools) or they could enroll directly in one of the lycées for a six-year program. Students completing the three-year première cycle received professional aptitude certificates; those finishing the entire six-year course were awarded diploma.

Apart from the lycées techniques, several other institutions offered vocational training in Chad in the early 1980s. These included the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, which opened in 1963 in N'Djamena; a postal and telecommunications school in Sarh; a school for technical education related to public works; and the Ba-Illi agricultural school. Other Chadians studied at technical training centers abroad.

In the late 1980s, advanced medical education was not available in Chad. The only medical training institution was the National School of Public Health and Social Work (Ecole Nationale de Santé Publique et de Service Social--ENSPSS) in N'Djamena. Its enrollment, however, has been very limited; in 1982 there were only twenty-eight students in nursing, three in social work, and thirtythree in public health.


A range of diseases afflicts the populace of Chad. In 1983 infectious and parasitic diseases were the most prevalent ailments, followed by respiratory afflictions and nervous disorders. In 1988 a severe epidemic of meningitis affected N'Djamena, in particular. By 1987 only one case of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) had been reported to the World Health Organization; however, it was likely that incidence of the disease was many times higher, especially in the southern areas near Cameroon and Central African Republic.

In the early 1960s, the government made a substantial effort to extend the country's limited health infrastructure. Despite the ensuing civil conflict, the government has attempted to maintain and expand health services. Foreign assistance has allowed the construction of new buildings and the renovation of existing facilities, as well as the laying of groundwork for training health care professionals.

By the early 1980s, health facilities included five hospitals (at N'Djamena, Sarh, Moundou, Abéché, anda locality in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture). Two polyclinics served the population of the capital region. Medical centers numbered 18, and there were 20 infirmaries and 127 dispensaries. Private medical facilities numbered seventy-five, and twenty social centers administered to the needs of Chadians in all prefectures except Biltine and Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti.

Despite apparent progress in health care delivery, it is difficult to determine if growth in the number of facilities represented an increased capacity or merely a reorganization and reclassification of health establishments. The only data available in 1988, for example, showed that despite the increase in numbers of units, the hospitals, medical centers, and infirmaries increased the number of beds by only 238 more than the number recorded in 1971. Modern health care was also very unevenly distributed. Such facilities in Chad have long been concentrated in the south and remained so in 1983. For example, eleven of the eighteen medical centers were found there, along with three of the five hospitals, and private care followed the same pattern, with sixty-four of seventy-five centers in the southern prefectures. In theory, therefore, people in the less populated sahelian and Saharan regions had to travel very long distances for modern medical care. In fact, distance, lack of transportation, and civil conflict probably discouraged most people from making the effort.

A continuing shortage of trained medical personnel has compounded the difficulty of providing adequate, accessible health facilities. In 1983 Chad's medical system employed 42 Chadian doctors, 8 pharmacists, a biologist, 87 registered nurses, 583 practical nurses, 59 nurses specializing in childbirth, 22 midwives, 19 health inspectors, and 99 public health agents. Foreign assistance provided another 41 doctors, 103 nurses, and 2 midwives.

More detailed information concerning health care in Chad was unavailable in the late 1980s, largely because of the Chadian Civil War, which had disrupted government services for many years. As a result of this conflict, there were probably fewer health personnel in the late 1980s than earlier in the decade, particularly in the sahelian and Saharan zones, where nurses abandoned rural infirmaries. Mortality levels in Chad have been high for a long time, but the war may have reversed the limited progress made in the 1960s in dealing with the country's many health problems. Although the conflict was far from resolved in the late 1980s, the Habré government had been much more successful than its predecessors in consolidating control over the sahelian and Saharan regions of the country where modern health care has been the least available. Although resources remained scarce, greater international attention to Chad's plight produced more foreign assistance than in the past.

CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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