Chad, Africa

Home of the Dadjo people

Art Aviles

Chad, Africa is a very large and hot place with certain distinctions that best remain unmentioned. It is over twice the size of Texas and temperatures very often exceed 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The people are mostly subsistence farmers and their main crop is millet. The main food eaten is called boule, which is made from millet formed into a paste and eaten with a variety of sauces. Other foods eaten on occasion include rice, noodles, goat meat and crickets. The country is generally a united people, divided into over 120 ethnicities each having their own distinct language. Arabic is the main language of the north while French is the main language of the south. Though Islam represents 53% of the population and nominal Christianity 34%, animism permeates them both.

Chad Facts

Population: over 11 million
President: Idriss Debi Itno
Primary languages: French, Arabic
Languages spoken: Over 125
Religions: Islam, Christianity, animism
Industry: oil, cotton
Major exports: cotton, cattle, gum arabic
TV broadcast stations: 1 :)
Radio broadcast stations: 11
Internet hosts: 5
Paved highways: 40,000 kilometers
Rapid growth: The current birth rate is over double the death rate.
Average life expectancy: 49 years
Infant mortality rate: 95.2 per 1000 births
Percentage of internet users: 1.5 percent
Literacy rate: 35.7 percent
Literacy ranking out of 215 countries: 210

Who are the Dadjo people?

When we are talking about the Dadjo, we're usually refering to the Dar Daju Daju, or the Dadjo of central Chad. The word 'dar' is an Arabic word. It means the 'home of'. Thus, Dar Daju Daju really means 'Daju from the home of the Daju'. In contrast, another Daju people group, the Dar Daju Sila, is translated to 'Sila from the home of the Daju' in eastern Chad. Dar Daju Daju can be spelled many different ways, including Dadju, Dajou, Daju, Dajo, Saaronge and Daju Mongo. However, the name 'Dadjo' is the one most commonly used by the Dadjo to refer to themselves.

The Dar Daju Daju is part of the Nilo-Saharan phylum of African languages. The Nilo-Saharan language family is further sub-divided, and the Dadjo (Dar Daju Dadu) language is considered part of the Eastern Sudanic family of languages. The Dadjo are part of a grouping of languages which include the Dar Daju Daju, Liguri, Dar Daju Sila, Shatt, Nyala, Njalgulgule and Lagowa that are mostly located in Sudan. The one exception is the Dar Daju Sila which is located in Eastern Chad and crosses into Sudan.

Dadjo History

The Dadjo 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. Having been influenced by Islam in preceding centuries, the Dadjo 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 Daju I' based in the town of Mongo and the head of 'Canton Daju 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-préfectures7 (Faris 1994:3). Canton I and canton II are approximately 80 kilometers apart and are separated by a mountain range.

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. With some areas showing a French proficiency of less than 15 percent. My 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, using only the Dadjo language, and the men almost solely use Dadjo.

Art and Denice are missionaries to the Dadjo people of Chad, Africa