Sunday, 27 December 2015

Chad Place Names Explained

Having blogged samples of my books on English place names and also examined the etymologies of the nations of the world and their respective capitals I thought it time to cast my net a little wider. This time Chad and a look at some of its largest settlements and most interesting names and starting with the capital.

N'Djamena may be the capital and by far the largest city but was only founded on May 29th 1900. Initially known as Fort Lamy, as suggested by the French commander Emile Gentil to honour his colleague Amedee-Francois Lamy who was killed at the Battle of Kousseri just days earlier.In April 1973 President Francois Tombalbaye officially changed the name to N'Djamena, this from the nearby village of Nigamina, an Arabic name meaning 'place of rest'.

Sarh took its name from the Sara people. Native to this southern part of Chad, they get their name from the Arabic Sa-Ra meaning 'sons of Ra', the ancient Egyptian sun god.

Am Timan is named from the Arabic for 'mother of twins', although just why it is known as such is a mystery.

Kanem is a reminder of the Kanem Empire of the Kanembu people, a once nomadic people of northeast Africa who eventually settled in this part of Chad.

Baguirmi is a department of Chad, taking its name from the kingdom of Bagirmi and the Bagirmi people whose name has never been explained.

Dar Tama gets its name from the indigenous Tama people and their Nilo-Saharan language.

Tibetsi is the name given to the mountain range and is the etymological version of the old chicken and egg question for the name means 'the place where the mountain people live'. This is the Toubou, a group who derive their name from Old Tebu for 'the rock people' which further confuses the question as to which came first - unlike the chicken and egg poser, where clearly the egg came first as eggs are also laid by reptiles, amphibians, dinosaurs (the chicken''s ancestor), fish, insects, and marine invertebrates for billions of years before the chicken.

Note the spellings of the places are English as the piece is written in English.


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