A Sara woman
|Regions with significant populations|
|The Republic of Chad, the Central African Republic, and the Republic of North Sudan|
|Sara languages, French|
|Christianity, Sara animism (traditional African religion), Islam|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Bilala people and other Central Sudanic peoples|
The Sara people are a Central sudanic ethnic group native to southern Chad. the northwestern areas of the Central African Republic, and the southern border of North Sudan. They speak the Sara languages which are a part of the Central Sudanic language family. They are also the largest ethnic group in Chad.
Sara oral histories add further details about the people. In summary, the Sara are mostly animists (veneration of nature), with a social order made up of several patrilineal clans formerly united into a single polity with a national language, national identity, and national religion. Many Sara people have retained their ethnic religion, but some have converted to Christianity and Islam.
The Sara (Kameeni) are the largest ethnic group in the Republic of Chad, they're concentrated in the Moyen-Chari, the Logone Oriental, the Logone Occidental, and parts of the Tandjile regions. After their arrival, they continued to be the target of violent raids by northern Fulani and Arab people.
The local Muslim groups of what is now Chad, referred to the Sara as "Kirdi", with the term "Kirdi" denoting a non-Muslim person. The Muslim raiders of what is now Chad were autonomously called "Bagirmi", and this geo-political conflict between the Kirdi and the Bagirmi continued through the nineteenth century.
The French colonial empire entered the ongoing hostilities in the early twentieth century, and the Sara people became a part of the French Equatorial Africa, more specifically as part of the "le Tchad utile". The Sara society was transformed by this development, both in terms of culture such as French-based education and training, but also socio-economically because of forced labor and conscription to serve the French military during the World Wars. At the time of independence from France in 1960, the southerners of Chad were more assimilated into French institutions than the northerners. This led to their political dominance of the country after 1960. They were also a part of the civil war with populations in north and central Chad, each population aligning with a different ideology.
The Sara people make up ten per cent of the population of the Central African Republic, making it the fourth largest ethnic group in the country. They live in the northwest part of CAR.
Analysis of classic genetic markers and DNA polymorphisms by Excoffier et al. (1987) found that the Sara are most closely related to the Kunama people of Eritrea. Both populations speak languages from the Nilo-Saharan family. They are also similar to West African populations, but biologically distinct from the surrounding Cushitic and Ethiopian Semitic Afro-Asiatic-speaking groups.