Profile Source: Anonymous
Introduction / History
The Bideyat and the Zaghawa are names given by the Arabs to them but they call themselves the 'Béri'. The Bideyat could be described as northern Béri, and the Zaghawa as southern Béri. The Béri are also numerous in Sudan.
In times past there was a great Béri Kingdom. In the twelfth century they are believed to have occupied most of Chad between Chari and Fezzan, between Kawar and DarFur.
What are Their Lives Like?
Herds of cattle and camels are a very important part of the Béri culture. Cattle and other animals from their herds are traditionally part of the 'bride price'. The Bideyat are more associated with nomadic camel herding and the Zaghawa associated with cattle as sedentary stock breeders.
The Béri live in a very delicate ecological situation, where the Sahara is encroaching on the Sahelian grasslands where they have lived for several centuries. Low rainfall is having a great impact on the Béri, who depend on the rains not only for the crops they cultivate, but most of all for the precious water resources for their herds. Lack of rain has caused whole villages to move elsewhere, and many have gone to live in urban areas like Abéché and Ndjamena.
What are Their Beliefs?
When Islam came to the Béri from the seventeenth century onwards, many were less than responsive to Islam because of their strong ancient belief system, and some pre-Islamic rituals survive until this day. Even though increasingly more of the Béri tribes have abandoned the traditional religious beliefs passed on by their ancestors, now most of the Béri claim to be Muslims. Only some of the elderly are observing traditional religious practices.
What are Their Needs?
Not only do they live in a dry area physically, but spiritually, they are still waiting for the Spirit of God to birth life in Jesus Christ amongst them.
No one has made any specific effort to reach the Béri tribes with the Good News. Pray that they will hear soon.
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