Tunjur people

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The Tunjur, or Tungur, are a Sunni Muslim ethnic group found in eastern Chad and western Sudan.[1]

The ethnic roots of the Tunjur people are unknown.[1] According to their oral traditions and some scholars, they are Arabs who migrated from the Arabian peninsula to Central Sudan either by way of North Africa and Tunis or by way of Nubia. In fact, as Nachtigal observed they resemble in features and behaviour the Arabs.[2] Other scholars suggest that they have non-Muslim Nilotic roots, that is from the River Nile region.[1][3]

They were a minority, but became the ruling class of Darfur and Wadai in the 13th century by peacefully taking over power from the Daju.[1][4] In 16th century, they were overthrown by an Arab group that founded the Keira dynasty, and later merged with the Fur people. According to the local legends of the Fur people, Shau Dorshid, the last ruler of the Tunjur, was “driven out by his own people because he compelled his subjects to dig wells in the high rocky regions and to undertake the ardeous and useless task of levelling the Mail mountain peak, on the summit of which he wanted to establish his residence" [5] His capital is said to have been the site of Ain Farah.[citation needed]

About the middle of the 17th century, the Tunjur people were expelled from the Islamic Wadai empire by Abd-el-Kerim of the Maba people, and the Mabas controlled the slave supply caravans to the north.[1][3] The Tunjur people then migrated west into their current location. Thereafter, they converted to Maliki fiqh of Sunni Islam.[1]


They are farmers and live closely associated with the Fur. Their own Tunjur language is now extinct, and they now speak Arabic, Fur or Beri language as their first language.[1]

Contemporary issues[edit]

Like the Fur and the Zaghawa, since the start of the Darfur conflict in February 2003, many Tunjur have been affected. A number of Tunjur have taken part in the fight against the Sudanese government, under the banners of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). They are estimated around 176,000 people.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Anthony Appiah; Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2005). Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Oxford University Press. pp. 241–242. ISBN 978-0-19-517055-9.
  2. ^ Nachtigal/Fisher, Sahara, II, 257/ III, 13.
  3. ^ a b James Minahan (2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: L-R. Greenwood. pp. 1130–1131. ISBN 978-0-313-32111-5.
  4. ^ J. D. Fage; Roland Oliver (1975). The Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge University Press. pp. 303–304. ISBN 978-0-521-20981-6.
  5. ^ Nachtigal/Fisher, Sahara, III, 361/IV, 276.
  • Arkell, A. J., "A History of Darfur. Part II: The Tunjur etc.", Sudan Notes and Records, 32, 2 (1951), 207-238.
  • Balfour Paul, H. G. 1955. History and Antiquities of Darfur. Khartoum, Sudan Antiquities Service.
  • Braukämper, Ulrich: Migration und ethnischer Wandel, Stuttgart, 1992.
  • Fuchs, Peter: "The Arab origin of the Tunjur, in: A. Rouand (Hg.), Les orientalistes sont des aventuriers, Saint-Maur, 1999, 235-9.
  • Lange, Dierk: “Abwanderung der assyrischen tamkāru nach Nubien, Darfur und ins Tschadseegebiet“, in: Bronislaw Nowak et al. (eds.), Europejczycy Afrykanie Inni: Studia ofiarowane Profesorowi Michalowi Tymowskiemu, Warzawa 2011, 199-226.
  • Nachtigal, G. transl. H. Fisher, Sahara and Sudan, vol. IV (vol. III, 1889), London 1971.
  • O'Fahey, R. S., The Darfur Sultanate: A History, London 2008.