Transafrica 2018 STOP 9

May 12, 2018

Bangui – N’Djamena

Flight distance: 540 nm
Hours in the air: 2.40

From green forests to the Sahel

We left Bangui during rainy conditions which made urban street life look even rougher. So we flew a couple of hours north from the lush green forests into the Sahel. Temps in the 40ies greeted us in N’Djamena, yet a nice breeze made it more tolerable.

Chad means waving goodbye to comfort zone and say hello to boot string Africa. Simply said, Chad fits our “slogan” perfectly. It’s a place and experience that we will never forget. If Ghana of Gambia are Africa for beginners, Chad is for the hard core. Travel is tough, not advised by anyone and getting out of the capital N’Djamena seriously a bad idea. The government controls less that half of the country, so we stayed put.

At the hotel we could change views with people who come here for a cause, be it for a NGO or international aid. Otherwise one would not find many other visitors here. To make things even worse to conquer more of the city, a sand storm followed by rains took care of that. In the evening, once the storm had settled down we went to a local restaurant/bar/night club to mingle with some of the locals and expats.

Chad offers an opportunity to break with Western style comfort and bring you to a place and promises experience, good and bad, but it’s certainly not the worst place on earth like many report.

Facts & figures

Chad, a landlocked country in northern Central Africa, bordered by Cameroon in south west, by the Central African Republic in south, by Libya in north, by Niger in west, by North Sudan in east and it has a border with Nigeria across Lake Chad. Chad occupies an area of 1,284,000 km², making it slightly larger than 2.5 times the size of Spain, or slightly more than three times the size of California.

The landscape of the country varies, extensive arid plains in the Sahelian belt in the center, a desert zone in north, mountains in northwest, lowlands in the fertile Sudanian Savanna zone in south. Chad has a population of 11.3 million people (2009 census). Capital and largest city is N’Djamena, spoken languages are French and Arabic (both official), over 120 languages and dialects in use by 200 distinct groups, Chadian Arabic is lingua franca.

Beginning in the 7th millennium BCE, human populations moved into the Chadian basin in great numbers. By the end of the 1st millennium AD, a series of states and empires had risen and fallen in Chad’s Sahelian strip, each focused on controlling the trans-Saharan trade routes that passed through the region. France conquered the territory by 1920 and incorporated it as part of French Equatorial Africa.

Chad, part of France’s African holdings until 1960, endured three decades of civil warfare as well as invasions by Libya before a semblance of peace was finally restored in 1990. The government eventually suppressed or came to terms with most political-military groups, settled a territorial dispute with Libya on terms favorable to Chad, drafted a democratic constitution, and held multiparty presidential elections in 1996 and 1997. In 1998, a new rebellion broke out in northern Chad, which sporadically flares up despite two peace agreements signed in 2002 and 2003 between the government and the rebels. Despite movement toward democratic reform, power remains in the hands of an ethnic minority.

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