Profile Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
Introduction / History
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. They are considered to be very tough, solitary mountain and desert people and have often clashed with neighboring groups. In many places they are regarded as foreigners in their own countries.
Traditionally, the Teda controlled the caravan trade routes that passed through their territory. They were known for plundering these caravans and trading slaves. Even now, some of them do not consider a Teda to be a man until he has killed another man. Stealing and killing are fairly acceptable in their culture and are even respected in some ways.
Teda culture gives little respect to agricultural work. Reluctant to rely on cultivation, they depend on a flexible nomadic system for survival. Their property system favors mobility and military strength over securing land and farming it.
What are Their Lives Like?
The Teda are primarily herdsmen, but they do practice some agriculture, when possible. Those who farm do not practice crop rotation or use plows to cultivate the land. Some irrigation is always necessary for the crops, and animal manure is used as fertilizer. The date palm is the main food plant. Milk from goats, sheep, and camels is another basic part of their diet. Vegetables, grains, fruits, legumes, and root crops are also grown. In addition, many Teda must hunt with dogs and gather wild fruits and seeds to further supplement their food supplies.
Livestock is the main source of wealth in Teda society. Camels and goats are the most common animals kept. The men are responsible for herding the camels, as well as for hunting and trading. Women tend to the goats and till the soil, but most farm work is done by slaves. The recent droughts in this area have caused many men to leave their homes in search of food and employment. Many of them have found jobs drilling wells and working in the oil industry of Libya.
Teda marriages involve the payment of a substantial bride-price, which consists of livestock. Though the payment may vary, two camels is the average. Part of this payment is given to the newlyweds to help them establish a household. The Teda live in camps that consist of extended family members. The oldest man in the family has authority until his death. Polygamy (having more than one spouse) is permitted, but rarely practiced.
Most Teda live in small communities with less than a few hundred inhabitants. The more settled groups who live in the villages are not there for the whole year. Generally, they live in round huts with stone or mud walls. The huts have cone-shaped thatch roofs supported by a central post. The nomadic Teda often live in rectangular or oval-shaped tents that have wooden frames and mats made of palm leaves or animal skins. Sometimes, they use caves for shelter while looking for pasture.
What are Their Beliefs?
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 1800's, 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.
What are Their Needs?
A majority of the Teda have never heard a clear presentation of the Gospel. Only a handful have received Christ. Additional laborers, evangelistic materials, and increased prayer efforts are needed.
* Ask the Lord to raise up additional Christian workers to join the few who are already working among the Teda of Libya.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom and favor to missions agencies focusing on the Teda.
* Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of the Teda towards the Gospel message.
* 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.