Libya celebrates Tebu culture, pays tribute to rich legacy

The Tebu tribes have an ancient heritage with unique customs and traditions.

Wednesday 16/09/2020
The Tebu have a rich cultural heritage full of unique customs and traditions. ((Tebu Studies Centre facebook)
The Tebu have a rich cultural heritage full of unique customs and traditions. ((Tebu Studies Centre facebook)

TRIPOLI - Tripoli and other Libyan towns will celebrate the National Day of Tebu Culture from September 15-17,  paying tribute to one of the country’s oldest communities and its rich culture.

Organised by the Tebu Studies Centre and sponsored by the General Authority for Culture, the celebration features music and dance performances and highlights the Tebu’s customs and traditions. It will put on exhibitions showing the Tebu’s collectibles and food culture. It also includes lectures on history, civilisation and heritage.

Main events will take place at the Royal Palace (Kassr El Khald) in Tripoli.

Dwelling mainly in southern Libya, the Tebu are divided into two major tribes, the Teda and the Dazaga. Each tribe has its own distinct dialect. The two tribes’ dialects are written in Latin letters and are characterised by a quick tempo in their pronunciation.

A Tebu man travelling in the desert.(Wikipedia)
A Tebu man travelling in the desert.(Wikipedia)

The Tebu have a long heritage full of unique customs and traditions. They are known to use a defence weapon called the “Kamouziri,” which means “devil killer” and also use the “Shaghni” instrument and “Kiddi” drum that give their music special rhythm and tones.

Tebu people can also be found in neighbouring countries of the region. There are some 375,000 in Chad, 130,000 in Niger and 150,000 in Sudan.

Historians describe the Tebu tribes as a group of tribes and clans with African roots, but cannot definitively ascertain their origins.

A Tebu family in traditional attire. (Tebu Studies Centre facebook)
A Tebu family in traditional attire. (Tebu Studies Centre facebook)

In order to shed light on Tebu culture, the Tebu Studies Centre was founded in 2014. It organises events and festivals such as the National  Day of Tebu Culture, bringing together Libyans of Tebu origin from all over the world to celebrate their shared heritage.

The centre also aims to translate and publish studies on Tebu language, culture and heritage, document the history of the Tebu in the region, preserve and develop Tebu language and document the oral and intangible history of the Tebu, including their eloquent poetry, stories and tales.

A young Tebu girl. (Tebu Studies Centre facebook)
A young Tebu girl. (Tebu Studies Centre facebook)

Additionally, the centre develops plans to help preserve the local and national archives, including by calling for a museum for Tebu culture and supporting peace efforts to bolster Libya’s democratic process and ensure respect for ethnic and cultural diversity.