Chad Table of Contents
Classified as belonging to the Niger-Congo subfamily of the Congo-Kordofanian family, languages in the Moundang-Toupouri-Mboum groups are spoken by a variety of populations in Mayo-Kebbi and Logone Oriental prefectures. These languages may be divided into seven subgroups: Moundang, Toupouri, Mboum/Laka, Kera, Mongbai, Kim, and Mesme. Speakers of Moundang, Toupouri, and Mboum/Laka are by far the most numerous of this group. Despite belonging to the same language group, these three populations have very different social structures, life-styles, and myths of origin.
Moundang is spoken by more than 100,000 people in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture; numerous Moundang speakers also live in Cameroon. The Moundang people raise millet for food and cotton for sale. They also own cattle, which are used for marriage payments, religious sacrifices, and payment of fines. Bororo herders live in the same region and often take care of Moundang livestock.
On the broadest level, the Moundang still belong to a kingdom founded two centuries ago. Although the French colonial administration and the independent Chadian governments undermined the military power of the gon lere (king), he continued to wield influence in the 1980s from his capital at Léré. On a smaller scale, clan institutions remain important. Associated with particular territories, taboos, totem animals, and marriage rules, clan government, which predates the kingdom, is much less centralized. In some respects, the two sets of institutions act as checks on each other. For example, the clans allow the king to organize manhood initiation ceremonies, central to the maintenance of Moundang identity; however, the councils of elders of each clan may offer advice to the ruler.
In the nineteenth century, the Moundang suffered frequent attacks by Fulani invaders from the west. They were never subjugated, but the close contact has resulted in the adoption of Fulani principles of political organization and dress.
Mboum/Laka speakers live in southern Logone Oriental Prefecture. About 100,000 Mboum/Laka speakers lived in Chad in the 1980s; a larger population lived across the border in Cameroon and Central African Republic. Sedentary farmers, the Mboum and the Laka probably were pushed east and south by the expansion of the Fulani over the past two centuries.
The Toupouri language and people are found in Mayo-Kebbi Prefecture around the town of Fianga. Almost all of their land is cultivated, and productivity is enhanced by the use of animal fertilizer and double cropping. During the rainy season, the Toupouri raise sorghum. Berebere, a kind of millet, is grown in the drier part of the year. Cattle and fish provide additional food resources. Numbering about 100,000, the Toupouri live in the most densely populated part of Chad; some cantons reach densities of twelve people per square kilometer. Overcrowding has promoted emigration, primarily to N'Djamena and Nigeria.
Data as of December 1988