Around the middle of the 17th century, Abdelkerim led the Maba (or “Wadday”) people from animism to Islam, set them free from their oppressors and became their first sultan. He is said to have been a descendant of Abbas, an uncle of Mohammed. Up to this day, the sultans in the Maba tribal kingdom are descendants of the line of Abbas. Until the middle of the 19th century the sultans reigned from the town of Wara. Over the years they constructed a magnificent palace, a mosque and other buildings, all made of bricks, in a culture of thatched huts. Afterwards, they abandoned Wara and moved the seat of power to Abacha, which has since become a provincial capital.
Chad’s Maba peoples Homelands
Many Maba have emigrated to Sudan. Almost all of the approximately 500,000 Maba are Muslims, though elements of animism remain in their culture. When in town the Maba speak Chad Arabic, which is the trade language spoken in nearly the whole country (illiteracy rate: 90 per cent).
The homeland of the Maba, the “Dar Wadday”, is situated at the northern edge of the Sahel, where the rainfall during the two to three months of the rainy season averages only 300 to 400 mm. For this reason, the Maba cultivate mostly millet, which grows well under these conditions and constitutes their main food. Groundnuts, corn, beans, onions, and leafy vegetables complement their diet. Most Maba possess some goats or even cows. Access to drinking water is a problem for most villages: if a village lies near a dried-up riverbed (a wadi), water can be found 2 to 5 metres under the surface. Villagers not living next to a wadi have to carry water for long distances or have to dig wells 20 to 50 metres down into the hard soil. Some development agencies are working to improve water supply and agricultural exploitation of wadis, to improve the supply of food for the rural population.
Workers allowed in Chad
Chad is governed by a Muslim majority, but constitutionally it is not an Islamic state. Development work and Christian proclamation are therefore allowed. In the area where the Maba live, a small group of Christians has formed and a handful of Maba people participate in meetings. Despite theoretical freedom of religion, many Christians face much oppression in the Islamic areas of Chad, varying from public insults to refusing to sell them products in the market. Trials before the sultan, throwing of stones and even death threats occur at times. During other periods, Christians are left in relative peace.
Prayer for Chad:
* Pray for the small indigenous group of believers to grow in faith and remain faithful to the Lord.
* Ask God to give increased wisdom and love to those missionaries working in the region, so that they may teach believers how to live their faith in a culturally relevant way.
* Considering the many new mosques, Qur’anic schools and Islamic education institutes, mostly financed by foreign countries, there is a hunger for education and for new awareness. Pray that this hunger might prepare the way for the gospel.
* The Bible has not yet been translated into the Maba language. Pray for translators who will be committed to getting the job done.