Introduction / History
The Bon Goula of Chad live in the far southeastern end of the Guera region in Chad. This area is extremely isolated, the next paved road being about 650 kilometers away. The climate is arid and very hot. The region is flat with rocky outcrops and rich in wildlife. The Bon Gula live in 4 or 5 small villages consisting of round mud brick huts. There are no medical services. Ibir has a school, which chronically lacks both teachers and materials. The Bon Goula live by subsistence farming, mainly millet, peanuts and sesame seed. They raise chickens and goats.
The Bon Goula society is close-knit and very traditional. In spite of being Muslim by name, the vast majority of the people are fierce adherents of the traditional animist Marghai religion. They are the only ethnic group of the region that wasn't relocated after the establishment of the Zakouma Nature Reserve, because of their strong religious bonds to certain mountains where they revere sacred snakes. Even the few Bon Goula people who live in urban areas are extremely traditional and not very open to outsiders. Their culture is strongly hierarchical and male dominated. The literacy rate is extremely low; there is one school in Ibir.
The situation of the Bon Goula villages near or in Zakouma Wildlife Park has led to a settlement of wildlife wardens in Ibir, and employment for some Bon Goula at the park administration in Zakouma. In spite of this contact with other cultures, little deviation from their own ways can be observed. The Bon Gula consider themselves to be of the same ethnic group as the Zan Goula people (5,000 population) who speak a different, but related language. There is frequent intermarriage between these groups.
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