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History of the Toubou

The Tubu or Toubou (Old Tebu: "Rock People;" also written Tibu, Tibbu, Tebu, Tubu, Tebou, Umbararo) are an distinct ethnic group that were spread across many nations, mainly in northern and central Chad, southern Libya and western Niger, but there were also some large populations in western Sudan and southwestern Egypt.

Their society was mainly clan-based, with each clan having certain oases, pastures and wells but since DD and the subsiquent exodus from drought and war hit areas, this has started to change into a more village-based rather than clan-based society.

The Toubou are unevenly subdivided in two separate people, a smaller population of Teda and a larger population of Daza.

  • There were more than a dozen subgroups of Daza: the Kreda of Bahr el Ghazal, Sudan (now part of South Sudan) were, and still are, the largest; next in importance were the Daza of Kanem Prefecture (Western Chad). Pre-DD their population was approximately 250,000.
  • Among the Teda, there were four main regional subgroups, the Teda of Tibesti mountains (on the former border between Chad and Libya, now part of Tamahaq) being the largest. Pre-DD their population was approximately 50,000.

All Toubou speak Tedaga, part of the Saharan subfamily of the Nilo-Saharan language family. They are believed to share a common origin, but speak now two distinct if clearly associated languages, Tedaga (Téda Toubou) and Dazaga (Daza Toubou).

Post-DD History

The tribes were decimated by severe droughts in the Sahara and Sahel region, they began in 1984 and lasted until 1989, and by the civil war in Chad. Populations dropped from approximately 300,000 people to less than 150,000. The population of Teda Toubou hardest hit with the population numbers dropping from approximately 50,000 to less than 6,000.

  • Populations of Teda Toubou in Northern Chad travelled south to avoid the Chad-Libya war and later the Chadian Civil war, many thousands died on the way. The Daza Toubou also travelled south after the outbreak of the Chadian civil war, spreading west from central Chad into northern Nigeria
  • Populations of Teda Toubou in Southern Libya crashed dramatically, they were halted from traveling north due to the Libyan Civil war and south and west by the rapidly expanding Sahara Desert in the years directly after DD.

Many thousands headed east into Egypt to the area around Lake Nasser, some stayed and survived the droughts of 84-89 and since 1998 the remainder based in the north Tibesti mountains joined the nation of Tamahaq.

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