Berber – Amazigh

The Imazighen (singular Amazigh) also known as the Berbers are among the original peoples of North Africa. Their myths, legends and history span 9,000 years, back to the Proto-Mediterraneans. They have achieved unity by keeping up their unique language and culture which are, like their land, both African and Mediterranean. The Berbers of Morocco share this duality, reflecting the diversity of their nature stormy history. Through contact with other peoples of the Mediterranean, they created kingdoms but also vast territories organized into powerful, democratic, war-mongering, tribal communities. Both aspects of this social political organization have left a mark on recent historical events and the two millennia of the country’s history. As opposed to the pagan Mediterranean kingdoms of Antiquity, Berber empires developed inland and were Muslim. Judaism continued to be practiced, and the Sunni Islam majority gradually took on a Berber hue with its brotherhoods, zaouias, marabouts and rituals. The roots of the Berber culture go deep down into Morocco’s proto-history. They are illustrated by strong link with their land, a sense of community, hospitality, sharing food and a specific relationship with spirituality. Its openness to many influences whether Mediterranean, African, Oriental, European or international have defined its current characteristics. The Berber language, an Afro-Asian idiom, is the melting pot of history and culture of the country, It has outlived most languages of Antiquity such as Ancient Greek, Phoenician, Latin or Egyptian. It used to be written but is now mainly oral. Though there are fewer now that can speak it, the language is nevertheless still used by a substantial number of Moroccans. A true symbol of identity, the language crystallizes political demands and unleashes passions. The recent recognition of the country’s Berberity would seem to signify a will to preserve the language for future generations including its ancient alphabet called tifinagh. Ahmed Skounti – 2011 Anthropologist at the National Institute of Science, Archaeology and Heritage of Rabat. (Photo source: fyeahnorthafricanwomen)