The history of the land known as Chad, named after its inland sea, Lake Chad, can be traced back to around 2000BCE and is the home of some of the more important African archaeological sites. Although today a semi-arid area, thousands of years ago cave paintings depict a variety of wildlife suggesting a very different and fertile climate. Over the ensuing millennia the indigenous Sao people became absorbed into the Kanem-Bornu Empire (above) founded c 700AD which covered most of modern day Chad and Nigeria (and, at its height, it also covered southern Libya, east Niger, parts of Nigeria and north Cameroon) which survived as the independent kingdom of Bornu until 1900. The Kingdom turned to Islam in 1068AD and it became a trade route for Arab traders. By the 19th century the area was home to the three kingdoms of Ouadai, Baguirmi and Kanem-Bornu which were conquered by the Sudanese warlord Rabih al-Zubayr in 1883 much to the alarm of the French who had designs on establishing a power base in central Africa. 1899-1900AD saw repeated conflict between French forces and those of Rabih az-Zubayr which ended with his death on 22nd April 1900 after the French routed his forces and he fled to his death across the Chari River.
Within a year, az-Zubayr's son Fadlallah had also been killed and all of the lands came under French control, save for Borno which was ceded to the British. Modern day Chad was then absorbed as a colony within French Equatorial Africa. In truth, France governed the south of the country, but history records its rule was nominal in the Muslim north. At the end of the Second World War Chad, like many French ruled colonies, became an 'overseas territory' and was granted its own parliament and representation within the French National Assembly. Chad was formally granted independence from France on 11th August 1960 with the leader of Chad's largest political party, the Chadian Progressive Party (PPT), becoming its first president.
President Francois Tombalbaye followed in the history of so many other newly elected or appointed leaders of the emerging independent African nations and banned opposition parties and established one party rule. This ban triggered violent opposition in the nominally governed and mainly Muslim population in the north of Chad and there followed three decades of civil war including invasions from Libya before some semblance of peace was established in 1990 although there have continued to be rebel insurrections to the present day and violence and instability still flare periodically. Today Chad is a country where even aid agencies fear to work, with aid workers subject to being taken hostage by bandits, and regular suspension of aid work programs occur due to the severe danger to staff there. The video below explore Chad history further.
Chad History: Volunteer in Chad
Chad History: Life in Chad
Chad History: Child Sponsor Chad
Chad History: Chad Country Profile
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