Focus on Family: Chad

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Chad, sometimes referred to as "The Dead Heart of Africa", is a landlocked country and is the fifth largest country in Africa. It has a population of over ten million people. 

More than 50% of the total population of Chad is Muslim, with Christianity being the second most prominent religion. Over half of the Christian population is Catholic. 

Nancy (not her real name) is an aid worker in Chad and has graciously agreed to tell us a little more about family life in Chad.  

My name is Nancy and I am originally from Botswana.  I’ve lived in Chad for the last eight years, as a humanitarian worker.  Chad is one of the most dangerous countries in Africa and also one of the poorest. It is home to some 10 000 000 people.  That’s the official number, but I believe it’s much higher with the number of refugees from our neighbouring countries.

I was asked by a colleague to answer some questions on family life here in Chad. Everything is overshadowed by the abject poverty of the people, especially family life.

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Home in a Village in Eastern Chad

Marriage

The Chadian people accept the institution of marriage, but it is a mix of traditional , Muslim and Christian beliefs and traditions.  While there are large Christian and Muslim communities, the traditional beliefs permeate and polygamy is widely practised.  The tradition of paying a bride price is also adhered to.

Family

Family is regarded as the central unit of society by the Chadian people.  Traditionally,the family, consisting of husband, wives and children, is headed by the male member, being the husband or, if he is absent, the eldest son.  The exception to the male headed household is found in  Taubou and Daza ethnic groups where all major decisions are taken by the wife. 

The domestic unit differes to that of western culture, with extended family forming a part of the household.  This includes brothers living together with their families.   While the individual and the family is important, clan bonds are also a strong influence in daily life.

Children

The Chadian family, is generally made up of six to seven children, two to three wives and the husband/father, making a nuclear family unit nine or ten people.  As mentioned above, households often include other family members, such as the husband’s brothers, their wives and children.  If there is extended family that is struggling financially, which is very common in Chad, a family may take in nephews and cousins too.

Poverty

The poverty in Chad is unimaginable. The entire family helps with the meagre subsistance farming and the children often go to bed hungry.  Despite this, they are a colourful and friendly nation.