They are called Berbers: "barbarians", but the proud Berber peoples like to be known as Imazighen, which means free men.
They are a millennial ethnic group, a relic of the pre-Islamic world, who lives in various places in North Africa and who has managed to transmit their language and traditions from generation to generation despite their complicated historical evolution.
The history of the Berber people in North Africa is extensive and diverse, their oldest ancestors settling in eastern Egypt. In reality, Berber is a generic name given to various heterogeneous ethnic groups that have similar cultural, political, and economic practices.
Contrary to the popular image that portrays the Berber people as nomadic people of the desert, their fundamental task is the practice of agriculture in the mountains and valleys.
It was this people who opened the ancient trade routes between West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
Berber society has traditionally been divided between farmers and merchants. The cultivation of the land was considered as the work of the lower classes, while the upper classes were merchants. Normally, the sedentary pagan groups pay their tributes in exchange for being defended by a local chief belonging to the merchant class. However, over time, as the economic importance of trade routes waned, agricultural groups acquired a certain amount of wealth.
Regarding their beliefs, since their conversion to Islam in the 7th century they have been faithful observers of this religion. Like most followers of Islam in North Africa, many Berbers believe in the continued presence of various spirits (djinns). Divination is accomplished through the means of the Koran and most men wear protective amulets containing verses from the Koran.
Over several millennia, the Berber language, Tamazight, has been transformed into thirty languages and hundreds of dialects. Although it is a language of oral tradition, the traditional Berbers for at least 2,500 years, its own writing system called "Libico-Berber" (Tifinagh in Berber).
In Morocco the Berber Drawa inhabit the region of the Draa river valley; Dades live in the northeast; the Mesgita, Seddrat and Zeri along the tributaries of the northwest; The Ghomara live in the Moroccan Rif, north of Fez; the Kabyle in the Western High Atlas.
THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW:
1. Berber comes from the Arabic adaptation barbr, from the Greek term βάρβαρος, in Spanish, barbarians.
2. Many Berbers call themselves Imazighen (their singular is Amazigh), which means "free men." The pictogram equivalent to the letter "z" in the tifinagh means "free man", which is why it has become the identity symbol of the Amazigh. This name is common in Morocco, in Algeria, and since the middle of the 20th century the term "Amazigh", the original appeal, has been used instead of "Berber", an imported term, to regroup all the Berber ethnic groups (Kabyle , Chleuh, Tuareg, etc.) Its origin is unknown, although the archaeological sites found in the Sahara, such as the cave paintings of Tassili n'Ajjer, date the presence of man in this part of Africa from at least 6,000 years.
3. The Berbers form a people with awareness of their own identity. On August 30, 1997, the first meeting congress of the Amazigh people was held, in which the official flag that illustrates the said people was presented, establishing this day as the world celebration of culture and culture. birth of the flag of the population of the Amazigh.
4. Part of its existence throughout the centuries is due to having managed to transmit its language and traditions from generation to generation. It is estimated that in North Africa there are between 30 and 60 million Berbers, especially concentrated in Morocco and Algeria.
5. The Tuareg and Zenaga in the Sahara were nomads. Some groups, like the Chaouis, practiced transhumance. In the case of Morocco, it is a town dedicated to grazing and agriculture.
6. The Tuareg reject any advantage of civilization, because they think that their life, although much harder, is in their need for a continuous effort where freedom and personal development are achieved. The Tuareg are known as "the blue men." This is because a natural colorant, indigo, is used for turbans, which stains the skin. Blue, for the Tuareg, is the color of the sky, the roof of their home.
7. In the middle Atlas is the town of Imichi, where the three-day bridal moussem is held in which Moroccan Berbers stock up on everything they need for the winter and look for potential couples to get married. The women dress in their best finery and their elaborate jewelery. Men generally wear white djellabas.
8. The ancient Berbers professed an animistic religion, linked to the sky, the sun, the moon, the stars, the water, the trees, the mountains and other elements of nature.