Social stratification among the Zaghawa Muslim community in the Sudan
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This thesis is concerned with the social organization of the Zaghawa Muslim community in the Northern Darfur province of the Republic of the Sudan. The Zaghawa are internally divided into two distinct groups beri and mai. The former constitute the majority of the Zaghawa society whereas the latter are a minority group of hereditarly and occupationally specialized craftsmen (blacksmiths, hunters, potters, healers and diviners). Although the two groups claim to be adherents of Islam, the beri are of the belief that the mal are pagans and religiously Impure. To avoid being contaminated by the mal, the beri adopt endo-gamous marriages, residential segregation and restricted comnensality. The thesis critically examines the literature on caste and considers the divergent views on whether caste is confined to India or a universal phenomenon which can possibly be encountered in Africa as well. The author maintains that the narrow definition of the term caste as a unique phenomenon confined to India is inappropriate for there exist many societies outside India which share the structural and cultural features of the Indian caste system. Hence he suggests that the term caste should be broadly defined to embrace any society which displays the characteristic features of caste irrespective of its geographical location. Despite the Zaghawa being broadly divided into beri and mai, sociologically more Important Is their categorization into kire bor, miskin and mal. The thesis explains how the Zaghawa society represents a caste-like system and shows how both the marginal kire bor and miskin are able to achieve social mobility whereas It Is impossible for the mal to do so. The study also focuses on the role of the kinship solidarity and village membership in maintaining social security and community welfare, It also examines how the Zaghawa traditionally respond to drought and famine and explains why their traditional institutions of coping with famine failed to save them from the late famine disaster which occured in the African Sahel.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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