From The Hippo’s Ears: Chad

Facts you may not have know about Chad:

Chad (تشاد/Tchad), officially known as the Republic of Chad (جمهورية تشاد/République du Tchad) is a landlocked country in north-central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west.

Chad is a unitary dominant-party presidential republic (de jure) under an authoritarian dictatorship (de facto), and gained independence from France in 1960.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

A handshake and a nod is the most common form of greeting. It is important to shake all hands in the room if meeting a number of people at once. To say hello in Chad, in French, say, “Bonjour”.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Chad’s two official languages are French and Arabic, but over 100 languages and dialects are spoken. Due to the important role played by itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in local communities, Chadian Arabic has become a lingua franca.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in Chad. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Chad is an ethnically diverse Central African country in Africa. Each of its regions has its own unique varieties of music and dance. The Fulani people, for example, use single-reeded flutes, while the ancient griot tradition uses five-string kinde and various kinds of horns, and the Tibesti region uses lutes and fiddles. Musical ensembles playing horns and trumpets such as the long royal trumpets known as “waza” or “kakaki” are used in coronations and other upper-class ceremonies throughout both Chad and Sudan.

Styles of Chadian popular music include sai, which used rhythms from the southern part of Chad—this style was popularized by a group called Tibesti. Other bands include the Sahel’s International Challal and African Melody, while musicians include the Sudanese-music-influenced guitarist Ahmed Pecos and Chadian-French musician Clément Masdongar.

For a taste of music from Chad, listen to Clément Masdongar’s Mariam.

One of the largest of a series of ten mostly fresh water lakes, in the Ounianga Basin, in the heart of the Sahara Desert of northeastern Chad.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Like many other African countries in this region, traditional dance go hand in hand with traditional music. And many of the dances are named after the style of music it is associated with. Dance in these areas is usually either telling a story, performed as part of a ceremony, or merely for entertainment. In the city of N’Djamena, there are many dance clubs and bars with dance nights that are very popular as means of entertainment.

Watch traditional Chadian dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Liberation of Africa

May 25 is the celebration of Africa’s liberation from colonial Europe. It is observed in other countries like the UK, US, Tanzania, Spain, Kenya, and Ghana. There are plenty of street marches, school lectures and artistic rallies.

Independence Day

Chad’s Independence Day is celebrated annually on August 11. This public holiday commemorates the country’s freedom from France. Sports and political assemblies are common and delegates from around the world visit at this time.

Proclamation of the Republic

Chad remembers the declaration of its republic status every year on November 28. This day is all about fun and festivities, regardless of your religion. Some local communities organize political assemblies and sporting events.

9. What are the seasons like?

Each year a tropical weather system known as the inter-tropical front crosses Chad from south to north, bringing a wet season that lasts from May to October in the south, and from June to September in the Sahel. Variations in local rainfall create three major geographical zones. The Sahara lies in the country’s northern third. Yearly precipitations throughout this belt are under 50 millimetres (2.0 in); only the occasional spontaneous palm grove survives, and the only ones to do so are south of the Tropic of Cancer.

The Sahara gives way to a Sahelian belt in Chad’s center; precipitation there varies from 300 to 600 mm (11.8 to 23.6 in) per year. In the Sahel, a steppe of thorny bushes (mostly acacias) gradually gives way to the south to East Sudanian savanna in Chad’s Sudanese zone. Yearly rainfall in this belt is over 900 mm (35.4 in).

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Idriss Déby has been the President of Chad since 1990. He is also head of the Patriotic Salvation Movement. Déby is of the Bidyat clan of the Zaghawa ethnic group. He took power at the head of a rebellion against President Hissène Habré in December 1990 and has since survived various rebellions against his own rule. He won elections in 1996 and 2001, and after term limits were eliminated he won again in 2006, 2011, and 2016. He added “Itno” to his surname in January 2006. He is a graduate of Muammar Gaddafi’s World Revolutionary Center.

Chad’s recent history, under Déby’s leadership, has been characterized by endemic corruption and a deeply entrenched patronage system that permeates society, according to Transparency International.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Around 96% of Chad’s exports are crude petroleum. Over 80% of Chad’s population relies on subsistence farming and livestock raising for its livelihood. Before the development of oil industry, cotton dominated industry and the labour market accounted for approximately 80% of export earnings.

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include visiting Zakouma National Park, Chad National Museum, and Ennedi Plateau.

A Chadian tailor sells traditional dresses.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Water, palm wine, and millet beer are the traditional mealtime drinks, although beer, soda, and wine have gained popularity.

14. What is a popular local dish?

Chadians use a medium variety of grains, vegetables, fruits and meats. Commonly consumed grains include millet, sorghum, and rice as staple foods. The day’s main meal is typically consumed in the evening on a large communal plate, with men and women usually eating in separate areas. This meal is typically served on the ground upon a mat, with people sitting and eating around it. Popular local dishes include Jarret de boeuf (a traditional beef and vegetable stew), and millet pancakes.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

Chad uses the Central African CFA franc. (1 USD = approximately 602 CFA).

3 Course meal: 18,000 CFA
Domestic beer: 1,700 CFA
Cup of coffee: 1,400 CFA
Coca cola (330ml): 600 CFA
Milk (1l): 1,100 CFA
Loaf of white bread: 4,800 CFA
Apples (1 kg): 3,200 CFA
Water (1.5l): 700 CFA

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Travel to Chad in all areas within 30km of all borders is not advised. Only essential travel in N’Djamena is advised. Travel is not advised in the regions of Ennedi, and Tibesti.
  • A state of emergency remains in place for the Lake Chad region.
  • Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance.
  • Car jackings are common, even in daylight.
  • Terrorist attacks are possible, and you should be alert at all times.
  • Always carry working communication equipment, and get a police escort whenever possible.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Ndakom Valerie Ndeidoum, a retired Chadian goalkeeper. He played for the Chad national football team, and was the part of 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, and 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
  • Jacqueline Moudeina, lawyer and human rights activist, who is known for her work in bringing Hissène Habré to justice for crimes against humanity.
  • Koulsy Lamko, playwright, poet, novelist, and university lecturer. His experience in Rwanda led him to write his novel, La phalène des collines (“The butterfly of the hills”), about the 1994 genocide.
  • Marie-Christine Koundja, the first published female Chadian author.
  • Mahamat Idriss, high jumper. He finished ninth at the 1964 Olympic Games. His personal best jump was 2.17 metres, achieved in April 1966 in N’Djamena.


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Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Image sources: [1], [2], [3].