The Tebu/Tebou/Toubou people, also known as the Tebu people, are an indigenous group found in both North Africa and the central Sahara. They have a rich history in the region, with their presence dating back more than 3,500-4,300 years.The Tebu/Tebou/Toubou are native to Libya, Chad, and Sudan, and their roots in southern Libya and southwestern Egypt can be traced back to 2,300 BC - 500 BC. Today, there are approximately 2 million Toubou people residing in various parts of Africa.
The name "Toubou" derives from their close proximity to the Tibesti mountain range and other prominent water mountains, earning them the title of "Rock people." Explorers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries encountered the Toubou in the Western desert of Egypt.Historical evidence suggests that the Toubou may have engaged in trade with the Ancient Egyptians. A letter from Pharaoh Pepi II (2284 BC – after 2247 BC) to the governor of Upper Egypt, Harkhuf, references a specific country as "Ta-akhet-iu." "Ta" signifies land, "Akhet" represents a mountain symbol with a sun disk on top, denoting the horizon, and "iu" translates to people. This aligns with the Toubou's self-identification as the Rock people.
It is worth noting that during a time when the Egyptians employed donkeys for long-distance caravan expeditions, Harkhuf's tomb inscriptions reveal that it took approximately three months to reach "Ta-akhet-iu" from Memphis, further highlighting the distance and significance of the Toubou's homeland.
Unfortunately, due to the Trans-Saharan slave trade, misconceptions have arisen that assign a slave origin to the Toubou people, despite their long-standing presence in North Africa predating this period. The Toubou stand as an example of indigenous Black North Africans whose history and heritage have been inaccurately misrepresented.
The Toubou people, as indigenous inhabitants of North Africa, hold a unique place in the cultural fabric of the region. Their resilience, rich traditions, and ancient connection to the land have contributed to the diverse tapestry of African history and challenge prevailing fallacies about their origins.