History of Berbers
The Berbers are the indigenous people of North Africa who have inhabited the land coast from Egypt to Morocco, at least 5,000 years old.
Since the Arab invasion of North Africa in the seventh century, were the "Arabization" that took place in three phases. The first phase was the first contact with the Arab invaders in the seventh century. The second phase began with the arrival of the Bedouins in the eleventh century. The third phase of Arabization that took place between the 15th and 17th centuries was accelerated by the arrival of refugees from Andalusia. The Berbers were forced to take refuge in the heights of the Atlas. While about 80% of the Moroccan population is of Berber origin, the reality is that less than half have adopted a lifestyle in line with Berber practices.
Their main religion is Islam, although some previous traditions continue from Iceland, Berbers believe in the continued presence of various spirits (jinn). Divination is accomplished by the Quran. Most men use protective amulets that contain verses from the Quran.
Over several millennia, the Berber language, Tamazight, has blurred in almost thirty languages and now hundreds of dialects, not counting the dialects or languages that the Guanches of the Canary Islands have long since disappeared. Although the Berber language is essentially an oral tradition, have for at least 2500 years, their own system of writing called "Libyco-Berber" (Tifinagh in Berber). Today this alphabet is used by the Tuareg tribes.
In countries like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco, Niger and Tamazigt Mauritania spoke but, except in Algeria, who imposed bans on the practice or who baptized their children with names of Berber origin.
Berber Culture in Morocco
Since 2011, the new Moroccan constitution formalizes the Amazigh language and since 2001 under the leadership of Mohamed VI, a royal institute of Amazigh culture has emerged.
The Berbers of Morocco are gradually recognizing their specificities both of language and culture. Mythical people whose origins go back to protohistory, nearly 9000 years separate them from the probable first Berber. What characterizes this astonishing people is its almost mystical attachment to the land, its tenuous relationship to the sacred, its intrinsic need for freedom and its hospitality as a way of life.
Their need for independence without a real structured link, a form of democracy before the hour, allowing any latitude has resulted for this proud people to build no territorial empire. The power has always remained at the tribal level even if the belligerency was a state of fact, too individualistic to build a too collective universe so binding. But openness and tolerance make permeability happen.
Berbers today are the fruit of interpenetration, the East, Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean feel and identify, fully integrated into this culture belonging fully to the Muslim world yet unique.
Confraternities and “Zaouias” also remain very present, marabouts and ancestral rites punctuate the daily life. The writing itself, based on the Tifinagh alphabet, almost disappeared, the culture being transmitted rather orally. The language is still alive, it adapts gradually to the modern world and is spoken throughout the country, transmitted in its symbolism mainly by women.
It is worth noting the strange concordance that can be found between the geometric signs of tifinagh, Sanskrit and Celtic ideograms. These Celts who are in their approach to life very close to Berbers. Same need for individuality, freedom, same form of structural democracy and no desire to build an empire.
In Marrakesh, a man, Pierre Bergé, passionate about this mysterious culture, created on the site of the gardens of Majorelle, a museum which tries seriously to enlighten the enigma of this people and to make it discover the greatest number. Not only are objects exhibited, a true cartography of Berber history but each year, the Yves Saint Laurent Foundation brings together scientists who bring their knowledge and analysis.
The information is collated and disseminated both for the Berber population who often ignores its own history but for visitors curious about this myth.
Author : J.Rodi