Kanembu in Chad

Main Language
Largest Religion
Islam (Sunni)
Progress Gauge

Introduction / History

Between the sands of the Sahara and the shores of Lake Chad live the Kanembu. For over a thousand years the Kanem-Bornu Empire exerted its influence over central North Africa. Its influence covered eastern Nigeria and Niger, the northern half of Chad and Libya. It traded with Egypt and sponsored Islamic schools as far away as Alexandria. Its camel caravans reached the Muslim holy cities in the Arabian Peninsula. Until the beginning of the 1900's and the French conquest of this area, this empire was the major power in the heart of the north central Africa.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today the Kanembu people are one group of the descendants of this great empire, and their sultans and traditional rules are still more influential than government authorities. They are Chad's merchant tribe, with 75-80% of all merchants in Chad coming from this group, making them one of Chad's wealthiest groups.

The style of living has changed little in the last thousand years, although modern conveniences: vehicles, water pumps, sewing machines, have been added alongside their traditional lifestyle. Today as Chad's main merchant group, Kanembu can be found in all major towns and villages. The "high school" generation (ages 15 - 30) seeks to escape the village and find a more fulfilling life and job in the outside world. The pull to urban centers, especially to the capital, is very strong.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Along with the related language group, the Kanuri, they live in an area between the shores of Lake Chad and the Sahara Desert. Living in mud brick houses, their culture and clothing resembling that of Bible times, they still await being reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Their practice of Islam is mixed with African traditional beliefs. They have outward conformity to Islam but depend on a form of spiritism to meet daily problems. Marabouts as spiritual leaders are often sought for their healing power or for their ability to communicate with spirits.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kanembu live in the desert region of northwestern Chad. Since the area receives less than 12 inches of rain per year, farming is very difficult.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to meet their physical and spiritual needs.
Pray a strong church planting movement would be established among the Kanembu soon.
Pray that the Bible and other Christian resources to be translated into their language.
Pray that Kanembu parents would be able to provide for their children and that their children would be able to attend school.
Pray that soon there will be Kanembu disciples making more disciples.

Scripture Prayers for the Kanembu in Chad.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Kanembu
People Name in Country Kanembu
Pronunciation kuh-NEM-boo
Alternate Names Kanembou; Karkawu; Kenembu
Population this Country 991,000
Population all Countries 1,031,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group Yes
GSEC 1  (per PeopleGroups.org)
Pioneer Workers Needed 20
People ID 12489
ROP3 Code 104570
ROP25 Code 303643
ROP25 Name Kanembu
Country Chad
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Barh el Gazel region; Hadjer-Lamis region: Dagana department, Massakory subprefecture; Lac and Kanem regions.   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Country Chad
Region Africa, West and Central
Continent Africa
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Barh el Gazel region; Hadjer-Lamis region: Dagana department, Massakory subprefecture; Lac and Kanem regions..   Source:  Ethnologue 2016
Map of Kanembu in Chad Ethnolinguistic map or other map

Primary Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.01 %
Ethnic Religions
9.99 %
0.00 %
90.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %
Primary Language Kanembu
Language Code kbl   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 1
Primary Language Kanembu
Language Code kbl   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 1
People Groups Speaking Kanembu

Primary Language:  Kanembu

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (2001)
Bible-New Testament No
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Film / Video Jesus Film Jesus Film Project
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Photo Source James Lane 
Map Source People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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