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The Daju Peoples of Sudan and Chad

Population:      Total Population 362,000 (Joshua Project, 2006)
Religion:        Islam (some sources report also that some follow traditional religion)

Registry of Peoples codes
 Daju, Dar Daju (Saaronge):  108480
 Daju, Dar Fur (Fininga):  102392
 Daju, Dar Sila (Bokoruge):  101553


Registry of Languages codes (Ethnologue)
 Daju, Dar Daju:  djc
 Daju, Dar Fur:  daj
 Daju, Dar Sila:  dau

  Daju, Dar Daju: Chad 52,000 (Joshua Project, 2006)
  Daju, Dar Fur: Sudan 162,000 (Joshua Project, 2006)
  Daju, Dar Sila: Sudan 51,000; Chad 97,000 (Joshua Project, 2006)


The Daju peoples live in Western Sudan and across the border in Chad.  The traditional area of those in Sudan in the Daju Hills of Dar Fur Province, near Nyala and in Geneina District in Dar Masalit.  The general name of this group of peoples and languages comes from these hills, though about half of them live in Chad.

The various sub-groups are commonly known by the areas where they live, but have their own tribal names, so may be listed by different names in different sources.  They are generally grouped together because their languages are similar.

One source says that Daju groups live as far east as Kurdufan (Kordofan) Province in central Sudan.  Due to a long period of warfare, groups have migrated and been driven away.  Many on the Sudan side of the border are now in refugee camps on the Chad side.

The Dar Fur Daju are found in the Darfur Province of Sudan, though many have been driven west into Chad in the recent years of intensified warfare in Dar Fur Province.  The Dar Daju Daju, though named after the Daju Hills of Sudan, are actually found only in Chad, in Guera Prefecture, around Mongo and Eref.

The majority of the Dar Sila Daju are found in Ouaddai Prefecture of Chad, around Goz-BeÔda and east to the Sudan border.  In Sudan, they live in Dar Fur Province.

The Daju peoples live on both sides of the Chad-Sudan border.  One large group of the Daju only in the Sudan are normally listed by the Province, Dar Fur (also written in some sources as Darfur).  Ethnologue lists their language as Daju, Dar Fur, with alternate name Fininga.  One ethnic name for them is Fininga.

Dar Fur is a comparatively recent name, from the Arabic for "Home of the Fur." The name of the area in the language of the Fur people is PoraŠng Baru.  However, there was a Daju state in what is now Dar Fur, before the Fur or their predecessors, the Tunjur, came to the area.

The Daju ruled a small empire in this area from around 1200 till roughly 1400, when it was taken over by the Tunjur Dynasty.  They are considered one dynasty in a series in Dar Fur.  The British conquered Dar Fur in 1916, and ruled the area with a light indirect rule, partly due top the warlike reputation of the Daju and other independent Nuba peoples.

When the Daju kingdom was lost, the Sultan escaped westward with some of his people and established a small new kingdom in the Dar Sila Area, now the home of the people known as the Dar Sila Daju.

Dar Fur is an ancient name, identifying a busy trade area from the Sixth Dynasty of Egypt, around 2300 BC.  Trade caravans travelled between Aswan in the Nile River and Dar Fur where items like ebony, ivory and frankincense from Yam in West Africa were available.  It is thought that at that time, this area was not as much a desert as now.

Nearly all the Daju in Dar Sila have migrated into Dar Fur in recent times.  The majority of this group still live on the Chad side of the border.  Today the primary Daju groups are known by the name of the primary areas where they live.

There are sometimes five groups included in the Daju group.  This profile covers three, as named in the header demographic information.  Others sometimes included with them are the Shatt and the Logorif (Logorik, or Liguri), whose languages are included by the Ethnologue in the same Western Daju group with the three Daju groups we cover here.

The Daju group of peoples are listed in different ways by different sources.  Some prefer to use the common tribal self-name of the people, while others follow the language name using a form of Daju (French spelling Dadjo)., for instance, lists Bokoruge, with alternate name Daju, Dar Sila, while Ethnologue's language name is the latter.  Joshua Project lists them under the name.

However, list the third major group under the name Dar Fur Daju, rather than their tribal self-name Fininga.  The Registry of Peoples, originally compiled from disparate world databases, has listed them by inconsistent names, which were recently standardized under the Daju format.

The Internet Encyclopedia, Wikipedia, describes the Dar Sila, one of the Daju groups, as themselves multi-tribal:
Dar Sila is the name of the wandering sultanate of the Dar Sila Daju, a multi-tribal ethnic group in Chad and Sudan. The number of the persons in this group exceeds 50,000. They speak Dar Sila Daju, a Nilo-Saharan language. Most members of this ethnic group are Muslims.

Groups of the Daju speak three closely-related languages.  Different linguists have tried to account for the relationship between the languages of the three groups we profile here, and related neighbouring groups, in different ways.  The designations we follow here are those published in the Ethnologue.

Dar Daju (code djc) and Dar Sila (dau) are spoken primarily in Chad and Dar Fur (daj) is spoken mostly in Sudan.  These three Daju languages are classified in the western branch of the East Sudanic languages of the Nilo-Saharan family.  These languages are related, but are not mutually intelligible.  Other languages in this branch are Baygo (byg) and Njalgulgule (njl), both spoken in Sudan.  More distantly related are the Eastern Daju languages Logorik, (Logorif, code liu) and Shatt (shj).

The Ethnologue reports the following speech forms as dialects of the main Daju languages:
Daju, Dar Daju (Saaronge):  Bardangal, Eref, Gadjira
Daju, Dar Fur (Fininga):  Nyala, Lagowa
Daju, Dar Sila (Bokoruge):  Mongo, Sila

Most Daju now also speak Arabic of the Sudanese or Chadian variety, but Daju Sultans had formed important dynasties long before the Arabs came.

Political Situation:
Dar Fur was an independent Sultanate from around 1700.  In the 1780s, the Sultan of Dar Fur extended his area by conquering Kordofan, now also a province of Sudan.  In 1874, Dar Fur submitted ot the Egyptian Khedive, and in 1898 recognized the sovereignty of the Anglo-Egyptian administration of the Sudan.

In World War I, Dar Fur made a bid for independence by allying with Turkey against the British.  However, the British conquered Dar Fur in 1916, since when it has been part of Sudan.  Since the 1970s, the Dar Fur area has suffered some of the effects of the northern Arab war prosecuted in the south against Southern tribes who wanted to secede from the Sudan.

War has been the primary factor in the last few decades of the Darfur area.  A civil war lasted about 20 years, until the end of the 20th Century.  A new conflict arose in 2003, involving local Arab militia called janjaweed attacking the African peoples village by village in a campaign of terror, reportedly supported by the Sudanese military.

Three rebel groups in Dar Fur are now fighting the Sudanese government.  These groups arose partly as a defense against the increased actions for Arabization by the Khartoum government.  "The rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the government of discriminating against the black African residents of Darfur" [BBC News 9 May 2006]

The breadth and ferocity of this victimization has elicited numerous international charges of genocide, and comparisons with the massacres not many years ago in Rwanda.  The tribes most directly attacked appear to be the Fur, Masalit, and Zaghawa.  All the peoples in the whole Darfur and some of the Kordofan have been affected.

However, over the three years of this conflict, estimates of those killed range from 200,000 (BBC) to 300,000 (Various sources).  More have been displaced, estimated by different sources to be between 1 million and two million [BBC World News, 8 May 2006].  Already in November of 2003, the number of refugees who had fled into Chad was numbered at 300,000.

Many of these have fled west into Chad, and are living in makeshift refugee camps, living as they can.  Many die to starvation and diseases related to their living conditions.  In early 2006, the conflict itself spread into Chad, with the Janjaweed forces crossing the Chadian border to attack refugees and local residents in that country.  The Chadian government seems powerless to stop this conflict, worsened by the apparent alliance of this informal Sudanese militia with Arab rebels in Chad, also terrorizing the local populace.

Interviewed on BBC, the Sultan of Dar Sila stated that his people have suffered 30 years of war.  Still, he said with an unexpected hopefulness, "We don't want this to become like Somalia" [BBC World News, 8 May 2006].  Observers at that time stated that the current Chadian government is in serious danger of falling, and prospects for the people along the Chad-Sudan border are unclear.

African Union troops have been there in 2006 for observation only, and there was pressure from the AU and other quarters for a strong UN or NATO force to enter with an active mandate for defense and settlement of the conflict to stabilize the area.  The African Union had brokered peace talks between the Sudanese government and the Darfurian rebels, but a fragile cease-fire broke down on 2 May 2006 before any final agreement, and fighting resumed.

By September 2007, the Sudanese government was still stalling and under increased political and economic pressure internationallly.  The AU had already appointed a peace force,and UN personnel continued to be involved in the situation, as well.  But fighting contineud to flare up periodcially, including increased rebel pressure on the Chadian government.

In October 2007, another UN-sponsored negotiating team had finally arranged a negotiation meeting to finalize peace.  This international panel of negotiators included Nobel Peace Prize winners former South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former US President Jimmy Carter.  Even as the new panel wwas sitting, some of the beligerents bombed and burned a camp and military equipment of the African Union force.

Each male-led clan has its own role in society.  The Sultan is chosen from one; his advisors are drawn from another.  Now the Sultanship is primarily a role of religious leadership.  However, the Sultan remains a figure of tribal identity and unity.

Until their lives were disrupted by the recent decades of warfare, the Daju were primarily farmers, concentrating on cereal grain production, like millet, sorghum, and corn (maize).  They did some hunting, and also gather honey, berries and wild fruits, accoridng to some sources.

Women are the house-biliders, making round houses with cone roofs.  In the towns, houses tend to be rectangular.  Women also sowed the crops, ground grain and cooked the meals.  Traditionally, community chores were shared, with young people being given work assignments in the village.

Daju women are reported to whiten their teeth with sticks and tattoo their eyelids, gums and lips with acacia thorns.  Similar to other traditional African tribes, they often remain bare-breasted among relatives.

The Daju people have been committed to a form of Islam since the rising dominance of the Arab peoples in recent centuries.  But they still practice many of their traditional religion customs.

Some would be considered traditionalists, rather than Muslims.  But they are usually classified as a Muslim people.  They profess Islam, but one still finds them building straw shrines to their traditional high god Kalge, whom they equate with Allah ("The One God") of Islam.

The religion of the Daju of Dar Fur would be classified as Animism, while that if the Daju of West Kordofan would be classified as Islam.  The Daju observe the two annual festivals by lighting fires, but celebrate the traditional grain harvest by pouring out water and beer beneath a sacred tree or stone.  Yet the Daju are proud of their Islamic faith, which has been greatly strengthened in recent years by Muslim missionary schools.

There are a few Christians reported among the Dar Sila, though some sources state that there are no known Christians among any of the Daju groups.  There are no translations of the Bible in any Daju languages.  Their geographical, as well as social, isolation has limited contact with the outside world of Christian influence.

Related Profiles
The Fur of Sudan and Chad
The Masalit People of Sudan and Chad (Includes additional external links)

FOR MORE on the Daju People and Dar Fur, Sudan
Daju Languages and People (section 4. Daju ) --
Daju Group of Sudanic Languages -- Ethnologue
Daju Languages -- Wikipedia
Dar Fur -- Columbia Encyclopedia
Dar Fur Peace and Development
Dar Fur Peoples and Languages -- American University in Cairo
Horn of Africa Customs; Daju, Masalit, Fur, Others -- Emory University Law School
Sudan -- World Factbook
Sudan Chronology
Sultans of Dar Sila and the Conflict in Darfur

Joshua Project -- Daju, Dar Daju
Joshua Project -- Daju, Dar Fur
Joshua Project -- Daju, Dar Sila -- Bokoruge -- Dar Fur Daju -- Saaronge

Perspectives on the Dar Fur Conflict
Advocacy for Victims by an American Muslim
Dar Fur War -- George Clooney Peace and Advocacy Visit
Human Rights in in Dar Fur
The truncated conflict in Dar Fur -- The Sudan Mirror
US Calls for UN Force in Darfur
Who are the Dar Fur Rebels?

Orville Boyd Jenkins
First written and posted 11 May 2006.
Includes some information compiled by this author in January 1997
Last updated 9 January 2014

Copyright © 2006 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Please give credit and link back.  Other rights reserved.

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