The Tama of North Central Africa
A cluster of 11 closely related groups in 2 countries.
Of the six tribes listed above, only the Tama and the Kimr have ever formed independent governments. Today, the Tama are citizens of the independent nations of Chad and Sudan. They all inhabit sandy, hilly regions with similar climates, grow the same crops, make their homes in the same manner, and have similar lifestyles.
The ancient Tama capital, Niere, was located in Chad. The ruins of this city can still be seen, and sultans are still being enthroned there. During the 1800's, the Tama were dominated by Turko-Egyptian Sudan. The Turkish authority was replaced by French and British power in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
What Are Their Lives Like?
Because of the sandy, hilly topography and the shortage of rainwater and ground moisture in Sudan, the only agriculture possible for those groups is dry farming. Their livestock includes camels, cattle, goats, and sheep. These provide milk and other dairy products, along with wool and leather. These tribes also hunt guinea, fowl, and gazelles for meat. One of their main dishes is millet served with various sauces, especially goat meat, okra, and onions.
The women gather products from the forests on a regular basis, particularly during the rainy season. The products include wild grasses, berries, and honey, along with useful tool-making or building materials. Women also help work in the field; engage in basketry, pottery, and other crafts; and brew beer from millet, both for consumption and sell or trade. The men do most of the field work and trade at the local markets. They may also work as craftsmen or merchants.
Due to the poor natural resources and economic conditions of the region, some of the Tama migrate from their home territories, searching for work elsewhere, usually in the Nile Valley. Some modern occupations include jobs as clerks, teachers, tailors, drivers, automobile mechanics, and middlemen in trade.
The Tama live in village compounds. Their houses are round, with diameters of 15-20 feet. The walls are made of coarse reed mats, and the cone-shaped roofs are made of thatched reeds. Some homes, however, have lower, more narrow entrances to keep out the lions and hyenas that roam throughout the region. Each village settlement is ruled by its own chief. The chief gives advice to the villagers, handles disputes, and makes important decisions. Each village chief answers to a territorial chief, who, in turn, answers to a higher government official.
Modern schools are not available in most Tama regions. Education is limited to the Islamic schools attended by the Tama boys. Therefore, only a small percentage of the Tama are literate. Some elite families send their children to schools in France, Britain, or other countries. These highly educated Tama hold administrative positions in society.
What Are Their Beliefs?
What Are Their Needs?
The Tama desperately need dedicated Christian laborers to live among them and share with them the love of Jesus. Since most of them cannot read or write, Christian broadcasts and the Jesus film are especially needed. Perhaps Christian teachers will have open doors into these tribes.Prayer Points
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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