The Mimi are an ethnic group of approximately 35,000 people living in Wadai Province of Chad.
They are closely related to the Mimas of Sudan.
They are scattered through more than sixty villages north of the city of Biltine. The largest urban concentration of Mimis is in Agan.
Rural Mimis are either pastoral nomads or sedentary farmers, raising cereals, beans, sesame, and several other crops.
Ethnolinguists believe that they originated in the Nile Valley of Egypt, where Arabic became their language and Islam their religión. They then migrated to the west beginning in the seventeenth century. Only the Amdangs, a Mimi subgroup of about 8,000 people living near Biltine, have retained the ancestral language.
During the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, French* colonial authorities began to integrate some Mimis into the larger polity and economy. During the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s, the social and political life of the Mimis has been badly disrupted by the continuing civil wars that have devastated Chad.
It is believed that Mimi people originated in the Nile Valley of Egypt with a westward migration taking place in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Some settled in the Biltine region of Chad where they became farmers. Others became nomadic herdsmen and maintained frequent contact with the Arab nomads. The settled Biltine group, or Mimi, still speak their ancestral language, Amdang. The nomadic Mimi eventually adopted the Arabic language as their mother tongue.
Mimi in Chad are mostly settled farmers who inhabit the hilly eastern part of Dar ("home of") Mimi. There they raise grains, beans, sesame, and a variety of other crops; they also keep some livestock. Few Mimi are nomadic herdsmen. They live like pastoral Arabs, rather than farming for their livelihood.
Mimi nomads live in thatched-roof mud homes. Agan is the largest urban area for the Mimi. Dar Mimi is sandy and virtually treeless. Because of the shortage of water in the area, the settled Mimi people are limited because of the number of animals they can keep. For this reason, they tend to force nomadic Mimi to people to migrate southward and westward.
They are surrounded by a number of other ethnic groups, including the Mahamid Arabs, the Zaghawa, the Mararit, the Tama, and various Maba-speaking tribes. Settled Mimi people sometimes intermarry with Maba and Arabs; whereas, nomadic Mimi intermarry with Zaghawa and the Abu Sharib peoples.
A Mimi person will never marry a Tama person. Because of this intermarriage among Mimi and neighboring groups, cultivation techniques and vocabulary have been assimilated into Mimi culture.
Social and political lives of Mimi people have been disrupted due to civil wars in Chad in recent years. The Mimi of Sudan are chiefly nomadic herdsmen. Most of them own herds of camels and flocks of sheep and goats. During winter months, young men take camels to grazing areas abundant in water and grass.
Women weave rugs while men make water-skins, buckets, and ropes.
Children have responsibilities such as spinning goat and camel hair into thread. Men also go to market towns to sell animals or to buy grain, cloth, sugar, and tea. These market centers include Wada'ah, Fafa and Magrur merchants.
The Mimi are entirely Muslim, as are many other groups in the Sudanic region of Africa because of the influence of Arab merchants. Islam is a religion of works based on five basic teachings or "pillars." Muslims must affirm that "there is no god but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet." They are also required to pray five times a day, give alms to the poor, fast during the month of Ramadan, and try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca. Mimi and Mima are not as strict in their observance of Islam as are some other Muslim groups in the area; however, most of the rules are followed.