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Total population Numbering over 1 million
Regions with significant populations These are some of the regions, the Baggara, are believed to inhabit.

(Western) Sudan
(Eastern) Chad
Upper Nile

Language The Baggara language is predominantly Shuwa, one of the many Arabic dialects.
Religion Predominantly Sunni Muslim. <tr>
<th style="background-color:#fee8ab;">Related ethnic groups</th>
<td style="background-color:#fff6d9;">All Bedouin groups, Arabs, Guhayna


The Baggara or Baqqarah (Arabic: البقارة) are a nomadic Bedouin people inhabiting Africa from between Lake Chad and the Nile, in the states of Sudan (particularly Darfur), Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and the Central African Republic. They are also known as Shuwa Arabs. They are cattle-herders, migrating seasonally between grazing lands in the wet season and river areas in the dry season. They are mostly speakers of the Shuwa dialect of Arabic.

[edit] Origins and divisions

Most are Muslims, thought to be partly descendants of Arab tribes who settled the region primarily from the fourteenth to the eighteenth century, descendants of the Juhayna group of Arabs that trace their ancestry to Libya. Those Juhayna who moved south where rainfall was more plentiful, such as south of the Marrah Mountains, took up the herding of cattle and became known as the Baggara, literally "those of the cow" or "cattle people". Their kinspeople who stayed north remained Abbala, "camel-men".<ref>de Waal, Alex and Julie Flint, Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, Zed Books, London March 2006, ISBN 1-84277-697-5, p. 9</ref>

The Baggara include several tribes, such as the Rizeigat, Ta’isha, Habbaniya in Darfur, and Misseiria, Humur and Hawazma in Kordofan. The Misseiria of Jebel Mun speak a Nilo-Saharan language, Tama (also called Miisiirii.)

[edit] History

The Baggara of Darfur and Kordofan were the backbone of the Mahdist revolt against Turko-Egyptian rule in Sudan in the 1880s. The Mahdi's second-in-command, the Khalifa Abdallahi ibn Muhammad, was himself a Baggara of the Ta'aisha tribe. During the Mahdist period (1883-98) tens of thousands of Baggara migrated to Omdurman and central Sudan where they provided many of the troops for the Mahdist armies. After their defeat at the Battle of Karari in 1898, the remnants returned home to Darfur and Kordofan. Under the British system of indirect rule, each of the major Baggara tribes was ruled by its own paramount chief, known as Nazir. Most of them were loyal members of the Umma Party, headed since the 1960s by Sadiq el Mahdi.

The main Baggara tribes of Darfur were awarded "hawakir" (land grants) by the Fur Sultans in the 1750s. As a result, the four largest Baggara tribes of Darfur--the Rizeigat, Habbaniya, Beni Halba and Ta’isha--have been only marginally involved in the Darfur conflict. However, the Baggara have been deeply involved in other conflicts in both Sudan and Chad. Starting in 1985, the Government of Sudan armed the Rizeigat of south Darfur and the Missiriya and Hawazma of neighboring Kordofan as militia to fight against the Sudan People's Liberation Army in South Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. Known as "Murahaliin", these militia were complicit in many human rights abuses including the abduction and forced labor of women and children. In Chad, Salamat Baggara were also involved in such human rights abuses during the the 1980s. In Darfur, a Benni Halba militia force was organized by the government to defeat an SPLA force led by Daud Bolad in 1990-91. However, by the mid-1990s the various Baggara groups had mostly negotiated local truces with the SPLA forces.

The core of the Janjaweed, a militia implicated in gross human rights abuses since the beginning of the conflict in Darfur, is formed by the Abbala. While the Janjaweed actively recruits from their Baggara kin, especially from the minor tribes that do not have hawakir, the leaders of the major Baggara tribes have stated that they have no interest in joining the fighting.

[edit] Notes and references


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