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Zaghawa in Chad


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Zaghawa in Chad map
Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
172,000 Zaghawa Islam 0.00 % 0.00 % No No   

Zaghawa in Chad

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Introduction / History
The Kanemite royal history, the Girgam, refers to the Zaghawa people as the Duguwa. Today, Zaghawa refer to themselves as the Beri, while the name "Zaghawa" comes from the nearby Arab peoples and became better known. They have their own language, which is also called Zaghawa, and the breed of sheep that they herd is called Zaghawa by the Arabs. They are semi-nomadic and obtain much of their livelihood through herding cattle, camels and sheep and harvesting wild grains. It has been estimated that there are between 75,000 and 350,000 Zaghawa. [1]

Zaghawa are first mentioned in Arabic language texts. The Arab geographer al-Ya'qubi, in a description written around 890 spoke of them as the "Zaghawa who live in a place called Kanem," and proceeded to list a string of other kingdoms under Zaghawa rule which cannot be identified for sure, but make it clear that they had some sort of hegemony over most of the smaller complex societies that stretched from at least Lake Chad to the Christian Nile valley kingdoms of Nubia, Makuria and Alwa. Ya'qubi also mentioned that the Zaghawa sold slaves to the north. Al-Ya'qubi and other early accounts make the Zaghawa to be nomadic and it appears that their hegemony over this region was not unlike the sort of loose rule that nomadic cultures sometimes exercised over settled populations elsewhere in the world.

Zaghawa overrule continued for a considerable period, the geography of the region given by Al-Idrisi in 1154 and Yaqut in 1220 also reveal an oasis centered system of Zaghawa power, and includes the two main towns of Kanem, Manan and Anjimi. Al-Idrisi is first to provide anything like a detailed geography (1154).

Ibn Sa'id, however, writing in 1270 provides a new geography showing that Kanem at the very least had become independent, and research by German scholar Dierk Lange studying the Girgam or Diwan of Kanem, argue that the change in sovereignty is correlated with changes in the origins of the wives of the rulers, moving from northern clans, presumably associated with the Zaghawa to a single southern lineage. This transformation and ibn Said's contemporary evidence both suggest that the power of the Zaghawa was broken, probably in the reign of Kanem's ruler Dunama Dibalami (c. 1210-1248).

Although Zaghawa power was broken by the rise of Kanem in the Lake Chad region, Zaghawa retained control over a considerable portion of the lands lying east of Kanem, and it is only in the late fourteenth century that Darfur is mentioned as an independent state by the Egyptian historian and geographer Maqrizi.

Following the rise of Darfur and Kanem, the Zaghawa appear to have controlled only desert areas and ceased to be a major regional power.

Where are they located?
The Zaghawa (also spelled Zakhawa) are an ethnic group of eastern Chad and western Sudan, including Darfur.

What are their lives like?
While they are not very powerful in Sudan, they politically dominate Chad. The current president, Idriss Déby and several former prime ministers of Chad are Zaghawa, as well as many other members of the government. Thus the Chadian Zaghawa are among the richest and most influential people of Chad.

However, in Sudan, the Zaghawa are caught up in the Darfur crisis, and have suffered much loss from the troubles there. The Zaghawa of Sudan are among the peoples living in the refugee camps in Darfur and eastern Chad.

The Zaghawa have been among the tribes in Darfur who have been referred to as "African" even as other tribes that have fought with them have been called "Arab".[2]

In 2000 an alphabet based on livestock brands was created for the Zaghawa language.

What are their beliefs?
As a result of Tijani Muslim missionaries from West Africa who were traveling through their area to make the pilgrimage to Mecca, the leadership converted to Islam. In the 1940s, the Zaghawa began to turn to Islam from Animism en masse. In Darfur, the Zaghawa are well-known[2] for their piety. Due to the fighting in Darfur, where they are targeted by local Arab militia due to their ethnic heritage, 100,000 have become refugees across the border in Chad. [3] [4] A Zaghawa tribesman named Daoud Hari wrote a memoir about Darfur called The Translator, which spread knowledge about the atrocities in Darfur.

Prayer Points
Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into central Africa to work among the Zaghawa.
Ask God to create a hunger within the hearts of theZaghawa to know the Truth.
Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the spiritual soil through worship and intercession.
Ask the Lord to bring forth vibrant churches among the Zaghawa for the glory of His name!
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.

1. Zaghawa survey, SIL Chad. 2004.
2. a b [1] de Waal, Alex, "Darfur's deep grievances defy all hopes for an easy solution", opinion article, The Observer of London, July 25, 2004, accessed September 4, 2007
3. See
4. See Survivances préislamiques parmi les zaghawa by Marie-José Tubiana

From This version of the Wikipedia article from 6 August 2010 at 21:31.

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Country: Chad
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, West and Central
10/40 Window: Yes
Location in Country:Wadi Fira region: Kobé department, Iriba subprefecture; Borkou-Ennedi-Tibesti region: Ennedi Est and Ennedi Ouest departments.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Ethnolinguistic Map:University of Texas or other map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Zaghawa
People Name General: Zaghawa
Alternate People Names:
Awlad ManaBeri
ROP3 Code: 111134
Joshua Project People ID: 16080
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 172,000
Population all Countries: 307,000
Least-Reached: Yes
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Kanuri-Saharan
People Name General: Zaghawa
Ethnic Code: NAB61
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Zaghawa (172,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): zag    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Religion Sub-division:Sunni
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity0.00 %(Evangelical: 0.00 %)
Ethnic Religions5.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam95.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant0.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic0.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Few evangelicals and few who claim to be Christians. Little, if any, history of Christianity.
Least-Reached: Yes
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching
Ministry Activity
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Networking: Visit for networking possibilities.
Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Zaghawa in Chad

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Kanuri-Saharan     Africa, West and Central    
      Zaghawa Chad    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Zaghawa in Chad          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Zaghawa  
    All Religions                              

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