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The Teda are a race of desert warriors living in the eastern and central Sahara Desert. The majority can be found in the Tibesti Mountains on the Libyan-Chad border, but some have wandered further east to Sudan. Their harsh environment, extreme poverty, and remote location make them a very tough people, who have often had violent clashes with the neighboring tribes.
Traditionally, the Teda controlled the caravan trade routes that passed through their territory. They were known for plundering these caravans and trading slaves. Stealing and killing are fairly acceptable in their culture and are even respected in some ways. In fact, their legal system approves acts of revenge and restitution.
The majority of the Teda people live in Chad or southern Libya, but some are in other countries like Sudan.
Teda culture has little respect for those who do agricultural work. Their property system favors mobility and military strength over securing land and farming it. Because of their lack of interest in farming, most of the Teda are herdsmen. About one third are nomads; the rest are semi-nomadic. The semi-nomads move from place to place for eight or nine months, then returning to their villages during the rainy season.
Livestock is the main source of wealth in Teda society. Camels and goats are their most common livestock. The men are responsible for herding the camels, as well as for hunting and trading. Women tend to the goats and till the soil.
The Teda who farm do not practice crop rotation or use plows to cultivate the land.
Milk from goats, sheep, and camels is a basic part of their diet, especially for the herdsmen. The farmers among them grow vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, and root crops. In addition, many Teda must hunt with dogs and gather wild fruits and seeds to further supplement their food supplies.
The oldest man in a Teda family has authority until his death. Marriages involve the payment of a substantial bride-price, which consists of livestock. Polygamy (having more than one spouse) is permitted, but rarely practiced. Most Teda communities have only a few hundred inhabitants.
Rough sports and violence are a regular part of life among the Teda. Although the man is usually the family leader, the wife may beat him if he challenges her authority in certain matters. Women usually carry daggers, and the men do not interfere in a fight between two women.
The Teda are virtually all Muslim. However, prior to their conversion, they were animists (believed that non-living objects have spirits). They converted to Islam in the 1800s, but only after almost 1000 years of contact with Arab Muslims. Their animistic background, however, seems to have been incorporated into their Muslim practices.
Today, the Teda follow the Islamic calendar, including fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. Both men and women faithfully say daily prayers, and more of them are now making pilgrimages to Mecca. Several Islamic schools have also been built in this region during the last century.
The Teda people in Sudan desperately need to experience God's grace, mercy, and love. They need to see loving family and community relationships based on the teachings of Jesus Christ. Those who live in Sudan are far from anyone who follows Christ.
Ask the Lord to raise up additional workers to join the few who are already working among the Teda people.
Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to mission agencies focusing on the Teda.
Ask God to raise up an army of prayer warriors who will stand in the gap for the Teda.
Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Teda that will penetrate their communities in Sudan, Chad, and Libya.