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FunTimes Magazine

Exploring Chad on Independence Day

Aug 11, 2020 09:53AM ● By Oga Africa


On this day, August 11th of 1960, Chad declared independence from France. FunTimes invites you to take a journey inside the intriguing Pan-African history of triumph and turmoil in Chad.

(Inscriptions found in the Ennedi Mountains of Chad)

Located in North-Central Africa, Chad is the largest landlocked country on the continent. Indigenous people of the land preserved history through imagery. Ancestral Africans inscribed thousands of rock art images on the Ennedi and Tibesti Mountains. The oldest painting there is estimated to originate from around the 5th millennium BC. From the 6th century BC to the early 1900’s, the Sao, Kanem, Baguirmi and Wadai Empires ruled the region, and relied on the control of the Trans-Saharan trade route for their success. The French took over until independence.

 The freedom movement in the country was originally spearheaded by Gabriel Lisette, a Panamanian of African descent and former French colonial administrator. In 1947, Lisette created the Chadian Progressive Party, the first African political party in Chad. After being outcasted by surrounding African leaders, Lissete gave up his position as president to Francois Tombalbaye, who exiled him from the country a week before independence. 

(Gabriel Lisette)

 Two years after independence, while Tombalbaye orchestrated a dictatorship, tensions rose and intensified between Black Christian communities in the Southwest and non-Black Muslim communities in the North. This ensued the creation of guerilla groups and four centuries of civil unrest. Throughout these years, the French sent troops to the country in aid of the government. In 1990, the current president, Idriss Deby, came into power by overthrowing the previous president with the help of the French secret service. Although Chad declared independence, it is evident that France continues to have an overarching influence on the politics of Chad.

(President Idriss Deby)

 This country has been an oil exporting country since 2003, and is abundant with other natural resources such as gold and uranium. There are over 200 ethnic tribes in the country. The official languages of the country, however, are French and Arabic. The Sara and Arab tribes are the most dominant, followed by the Daza, Mayo-Kebbi, Kanem-Bournou, Ouaddai, Hadjarai and more.

(A family in Chad, Photo by Ken Doerr)

 The Sahara Desert covers about a third of the country. As Lake Chad dries up, which has shrunken by 90%, and Boko Haram takes a toll on the country, various impediments deter Chad’s growth. Chad has been ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world, and suffers from water insecurity and periodic droughts. In addition, disputes rose in 2013, when the country started to see an influx of refugees from Central African Republic and Sudan, who sought refuge from violence and environmental inequities. Other issues include a high mortality rate, lack of access to education, underdeveloped transportation infrastructure, child labor and more.

(A refugee camp in Chad)


This country needs your help. In 2017, 350,000 Chadians were reported to be in danger of starvation. You can help relieve food insecurity in Chad here.