Music and Religion in Chad

Several religious denominations are present in Chad, a country of more than 250 ethnic groups and a population of nearly 12 million inhabitants. According to a 2011 census, the most practiced religions in the country are Islam (81%), Christianity (15%) and animism (4%).

The Sacré-Coeur de Chagoua choir. Photo: Facebook
The Sacré-Coeur de Chagoua choir. Photo: Facebook

Beyond political or cultural boundaries, religions have developed rituals to speak to God. Music is essential to these rituals, as both a form of individual expression, and as a symbol of cultural, national and spiritual community.

Islamic music

Islamic music is widespread among students attending Koranic schools who through songs cite the verses of the Koran during religious ceremonies. In other circumstances, such as a marriage or a circumcision, religious songs honour the Prophet Muhammad, founder of Islam. Worship music like the qawwali (a form of Sufi devotional music) and sama (spiritual hearing in Arabic) are popular among the Sufi brotherhood, but are virtually non-existent in the country. "These songs and dances, inspired by local tunes influenced by Arab and eastern European rhythms, enhance the atmosphere of a Muslim or Christian ceremony," explains Étienne Damomé.

Catholic worship

In Chad, music has always been an integral part of the different Christian denominations and cults. Christian music has the most significant repertoire of religious songs. The Catholic Church has remained conservative in Chad, and the liturgical music hasn’t changed much, with instruments accompanying choirs. Today, these same choirs seek new musical inspiration, moving toward "world music."

Protestant Church
Music is a means of communion between the faithful and their God in protestant churches. The musical repertoire of worship groups is very diverse, aligning local tunes like Saï, Dalla, to international sounds such as rumba, world music, slow, gospel, etc. During worship, instruments like the piano, the guitar and other sound equipment play an important role because they help the faithful to pray better and worship God.

Every December, the French Institute of Chad offers the opportunity to several groups to perform on stage. And these events have become the rendezvous of Gospel music where Chadian groups perform American Negro Spirituals, R&B, jazz and traditional African music. For instance, the Sainte Cécile Choir participated in the gospel evening organized in 2013 by the French Institute.

Famous singers & bands

The Sacred Heart choir of the Chagoua parish: One of Chad’s large choirs released its first album of ten titles through a grand concert on May 15, 2016 in the hall of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in N'Djamena. According to the choir, the objective of the new album is to accompany the faithful in their daily prayers. My light (the title of the Opus) is the reflection of the image of Christ that the group wants to highlight.

Heaven Voice: This choir was created in 2003 following a meeting with the choirs in Sarh, city located in the south of Chad. Its objective is to praise, adore, and spread the word through music. The 12-member group plays different repertoire from Congolese rumba, Saï, R&B to soul music. In May 2016, the group released a new song entitled ‘I Nel MBI’.

Emmanuel Ngaba: Ngaba is a Chadian musician and leader of the Friends of Aspah band. He contributed to the emergence of Gospel music in Chad. Emmanuel learned music through a collection of Christian hymns his father brought him. In 2003, he released his first album entitled Viens Amis and in 2012, Dounia. Emmanuel Ngaba is one of the founders of the Explosion Symphonique association which provides technical and sometimes financial support to Chadian gospel musicians.

Renta Victorine: Victorine is one of the most popular gospel artists in Chad. She joined a local church choir at the age of 16. In 1998, she released her first album entitled Digne de Louange. After several training sessions, she joined the École de Louange des Chantres Unis in Ivory Coast in 2008. She released the single ‘Saisons de grâces’ the same year. Her music is a mix of gospel, reggae and jazz. Renta Victorine sings in French and in sara (a language spoken in the south of Chad).



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