African traditions, and legends are kept orally and then passed on from one generation to the next. The most common and probably only legend about Garri origin is called The Kedh Gurrai. The story of the “Kedh Gurrai” (great migration to the south) states that there was a big war which caused people to disperse in different directions. Some stayed, some moved away, and this was also when people converted to different religions; this migration is believed to have happened around 14th Century AD. The legend says the war was triggered by a “Boran” invasion. The Borana people have always lived in the same regions, and speak the same language as Garris.
In recent years, further information has shed light on exactly when, where, and why the migration of Kedh Gurrai took place. Many senior Garris, claim that they have always heard about Garris who live in Chad. This claim was also confirmed by president of Chad Hissene Habre, who supposedly came to East Africa and met with Garri elders. You can also read about it in “Toubou and Gorane of Chad”.
“There are Garris in Chad today, and they are the people who stayed behind after we left during Kedh Gurrai…” -Abdullahi A.
Kanem was an ancient African empire which was located in present day Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Libya from 600 BC – 1380 AD. According to sources, Chad is still refered to as Kanem today. The break-up of Kanem was caused by an invasion which forced it to move to “Bornu” in present day Nigeria. During this time is when the Kedh Gurrai is believed to have happened. When the legend speaks about a “Boran” invasion and defeat, most Garris today usually think it means that their current neighbours (Borana People) invaded them, never does it occur that it could be something that took place in a different part of Africa a long time ago.
An individual of Toubou descent contacted me after reading the connection between Garri and Toubou in the post “Toubou and Gorane of Chad“. He found out, after taking a DNA test, that his DNA matched the Toubou (Kanuri) in Central Africa and also matched the DNA of people who are found in Somali, Kenya and Ethiopia (Garri regions). Garri, Gabra, and Borana among others who live in Somali and Oromo regions, all share the tradition of Kedh Gurrai. Garri and Gabra are the same people who seperated after Kedh Gurrai; they both have Tuf (Toubou) and Quran (Gorane) as a subtribe which is also found amongst the Kanuri.
Today, Toubous (Teda) and Gorane (Daza) live in many countries throughout Central and West Africa. There are also African Americans of Toubou descent; I would not be surprised if Africans in Latin America and Europe, who were pulled out of Sub-Saharan Africa during the slave trades also shared this relation.
“My ancestors came through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade in the 1820s according to the records… About 3-5% of African Americans have Toubou ancestry and this ancestry is maternal.”