The Beri (Kige) are a large ethnic group who live on the border of Chad and Sudan.
They are divided into two basic subgroups:
Although both groups identify themselves as Beri.
Their total population today exceeds 350,000 people, with the Zaghawa making up approxi- mately 90 percent of that total. In Chad, more than 50,000 of the Zaghawas live in northeastern Wadai Province. They are also present across the border in Dar- fur Province of Sudan.
Bideyat live north of the Zaghawa in the Ennedi hills of Chad.
The Bideyat are more associated with nomadic camel herding while the Zaghawa are associated with cattle as sedentary stock producers.
Beri divide their language into four main branches according to clan classification:
Wegi, numerically the largest of the four branches remains mostly within Sudan, where they used to have eight sultanates. With Kube, they share the name Zaghawa, but they have their distinctive Arab names also, the most commonest among them Twer, less common ones include Gala and Artag.
Wegi essentially maintains uniformity in its native lexicon, although further east people have borrowed profusely from Arabic. Two sub- clans, the Unai and the Eni, are recognized to have some minor variations.
Kube stretches out the border between Sudan and Chad but most Kube-ra (Kube people) live in Chad. The present political boundary reflects the division of two Kube sultanates, one based at Hiri-ba in Chad and the other based at Tine on the borderline between Sudan and Chad.
Tuba used to live in the area north of that of Kube but draught cycles compelled them to drift away, mixing at times with Kube, at times in separate communities, and at times even entirely south of the Kube in land traditionally attributed to the neighbouring Tama people. Their nomadic nature led the Arabs to give them a separate name, the Bedyat. Tuba also comprises two main dialects: the majority Biria and the smaller Brogat. The latter has intermarried with the adjacent Gorane people (linguistically known as Daza).
Most also speak the Gorane language (Daza-ga), with the younger generation increasingly proficient in their mother tongue. Brogat contrasts minimally with Biria, mostly in consonant voicing, where Borogat seem to retain some earlier contrasts.
Dirong is another unique dialect, sharing common aspects with Guruf, towards the south west of and centered around the town of Martibe. In the larger Kube community, this dialect has disadvantaged status.
(Osman, Suleiman Norein (Al-Fasher University) (undated) Proverbs and Idiomatic Phrases in Zaghawa Language)
In recent decades, the Beri economy has become increasingly complex. For centuries, the Beri were nomadic livestock herders, raising camel, cattle, and sheep, and those pursuits are still central to the lifestyles of many Beri. But today, there are large numbers of Beri who are settled farmers, raising millet, while others are merchants, who trade livestock for manufactured goods. Be- cause of increasing numbers of government jobs and the growing amount of wage labor, the Beri find themselves drawn more and more into a money economy.
Before the arrival of Islam in the seventeenth century, Beri society revolved around clan social systems and a religión oriented toward the god Iru. Islam first reached the Zaghawas in Sudan; there it took deep root and later spread into other Beri groups in Chad. Islam has eroded the power of the clan system, as did the presence of British* political power in Sudan and French* power in Chad. Since the end of the colonial period, more centralized political institutions in independent Chad and independent Sudan have continued then erosion ofm clan power.