Introduction / History The Dar Daju Daju people of Chad, Africa are located in the Guéra region of Chad. The Dar Daju Daju people are distinct from the Dar Sila Daju of Chad. Though related linguistically and ethnically, the two languages do not have a high level of mutual intelligibility, and the speakers of the two languages are considered two people groups.
Daju Daju literally means 'Daju from the home of the Daju' while another Daju language variety, the Dar Daju Sila, refers to the 'Sila from the home of the Daju' in eastern Chad. Dar Daju, Daju has several spellings and names including Dadju, Dajou, Daju, Dajo, Saaronge, Gadjira and Daju Mongo (Gordon 2005). Following French spelling conventions, and from the author's own experience, the term Dadjo is the most widely used name the Dar Daju Daju people use to refer to themselves.
The Eastern Daju languages of Liguri and Shatt are located in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan. The Western Daju languages are located from central Chad into southern Sudan (Ende 2007). The Dar Daju Daju people reside in the Guéra region of the country of Chad and have a population of approximately 60,000, while the total number of Daju in Chad and Sudan likely reaches over 400,000.
According to Thelwall (2002), the Shatt and Liguri have roots dating back as far as 100 BC, and southern Darfur was the center of an established Daju state as early as 1200 AD. Some time after 1200 AD the Daju were displaced by the Tunjur and again later by the Fur. Many Daju moved eastward well into the Nuba Mountains, while others moved westward to Chad. The establishment of the Dar Daju Sila people group likely occurred in the early 1600's according to dates found in a manuscript by the French commander Colonel Largeau during the French invasion of dar Sila (Largeau 1913).
The Daju move into Chad was said to be started by Ahmad el Daj (Largeau 1913) and eventually extended from the eastern border into what is now known as the town of Mongo in the Guéra region. Because the Dar Daju Daju prefer the name Dadjo, I will henceforth refer to the people by that name.
Where are they located? The Dar Daju Daju are located in central Chad, while the Dar Sila Daju are located in the eastern part of Chad and cross into Sudan.
What are their lives like? Having been influenced by of Islam in preceding centuries, the Dadjo people are almost 100% Muslim, though many continue to practice long established religious customs which are non-islamic.
The Dadjo are divided into two cantons with the head of "Canton Dadjo I" based in the village of Gadjira and the head of "Canton Dadjo II" based in the town of Eref. The division of the Dadjo into two cantons occurred in 1951 as a result of the French division of the region into two French sous préfectures (Faris 1994:3). Canton I and canton II are approximately 80 kilometers apart and are separated by a mountain range.
The Dadjo language can be divided into three regional varieties: Mongo, Eref and Bardangal. The Mongo and Bardangal varieties are situated in canton I and the Eref variety is situated in canton II. The Eref and Bardangal varieties of Dadjo are situated 73 kilometers northeast and 51 kilometers southwest of Mongo, respectively. The lexical similarity between the three varieties is over 90 percent, with differences being only phonetic.
The Dadjo generally marry others of the Dadjo ethnicity, while those in larger towns intermarry with other ethnic groups.
Chadian Arabic is the major language of trade for the Dadjo with almost 100 percent of the adult male population speaking it on a regular basis with members of other ethnic groups. Though Chadian Arabic is the major trade language, the level of proficiency in the language is quite low in places.
The author's personal observation is that the use of Arabic is most greatly felt in the town of Mongo where the intermingling of different ethnic groups is commonplace. In normal village situations the women of the village are mostly monolingual in Dadjo, and the men almost solely use Dar Daju Daju.
What are their needs? According to UNICEF (2008), the literacy rate in Chad is 41 percent for adult males and 13 percent for adult females. The percentage of children attending primary school is 41 percent for males and 31 percent for females. Secondary school attendance is noted as 23 percent for males and 7 percent for females.
The actual figures are much lower for the Dadjo people. The Dadjo are mostly subsistence farmers with some owning small businesses in the town of Mongo. The Chadian government is encouraging the development of local languages and their incorporation into the education system, but it generally lacks the funding and expertise to accomplish such a task independently. The Fédération des Associations pour la Promotion et le Développement des Langues du Guéra (FAPLG), one of several NGOs engaged in language development work, is currently working with the Dadjo to promote literacy and literature production.
The Dadjo people are very determined to see the development of their language and have taken steps toward furthering this goal. In June of 2005 they held a general assembly to which all Dadjo chiefs were invited, where the sultan of Canton Daju I, Moussa Ibedou, encouraged them to assist in the advancement of the Dadjo lanaguage. Since that time, with the aid of FAPLG, the Dadjo have formed their own language association, the Association pour la Promotion et le Développement de la langue Dadjo (APDLD), and have begun the process of teacher training for future literacy work. The primary focus of the work at the present is in the Mongo and Eref regions with future work targeting Bardangal.
There are Scripture portions now available to the Dadjo and a translation team is in place. In addition, the AET church of Chad has placed three national missionaries among the Dadjo.