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Berber History :
You are headed to the African nation of Morocco. Houssein Your Moroccan tour guide has told you about visiting Berber villages. You have heard all about the Berber craftsmen, their knowledge of the land, some of their indestructible history and maybe a bit more. Or perhaps you’ve never heard of them at all. Just who are these Berber people? A Moroccan pre-Arab culture has ruled unperturbed and unconquered for hundreds of years. Let’s take a look at this amazing people.
Also called Imazighen(in antiquity, known asLibyans by the Greeks), the Berber are the indigenous people of North Africa, west of the Nile Valley. Many Berbers call themselves some variant of the word Imazighen (singular:Amazigh), possibly meaning "free people" or "free and noble men". The word has probably an ancient parallel in the Roman name for some of the Berber, "Mazices".
The name Berber comes from the name given to this people by the Romans, meaning barbarians. The history of the Berber people in northern Africa is both extensive and diverse. Their oldest ancestors settled in the East of Egypt. Many are the references to this old people in Greek, Roman and Phoenician texts. In fact, Berber is a generic name given to numerous heterogeneous ethnic groups who share similar cultural, political and economical practices.
The Arabization of the Berber people happened in three stages. First it was the contact with Arabic invaders in the 7th century. The second stage started with the arrival of the Bedouins in the 11th century. And finally the 3rd stage took place between the 15th and 17th centuries and it was accelerated by the arrival of Andalusian refugees.
Contrary to the romantic, popular image that portrays Berbers as nomadic people who cross the desert in camels, their main activity is sedentary agriculture, which they carry out in mountains and valleys. But their long-recorded influence in trading in the region is also true. They were the first to open the commercial routes between Western Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. They were responsible for bringing goods from beyond the Sahara desert to Northern African cities.
Nowadays, besides the traditional means of living, there is a new element which is part of the economy of Berber families, namely income from the large number of immigrants in Europe, especially in France. Along several millennia the Berber language, Tamazight, has gradually turned into nearly thirty existing languages and hundreds of dialects, to say nothing of several others which disappeared long ago like Guanche spoken in The Canary Islands. Although the Berber language is basically oral, Berbers have had their own writing system, called Libico-Berber, for at least 2,500 years. At present this alphabet is used by the Touaregs but the Latin alphabet with a few variations and the Arabic alphabet are the most commonly used.
Berber society has traditionally been divided into farmers and merchants. Cultivation of the land was considered lower-class work whilst upper classes were merchants. Normally sedentary farming groups would pay tribute to a merchant local chief, as guarantee to be defended in return. However, as time went by, these farmers acquired a certain amount of wealth while, at the same time, the economic importance of commercial routes fell. Besides, these groups were given priority by colonial and post colonial authorities, in detriment of the traditional power merchants used to have.
Their architecture is as varied as the countries they live in. Berber constructions in the hills of Jebel Nebusa are among the most remarkable. They are underground houses carved vertically or horizontally in limestone. Some of them look like ordinary caves on the slopes of hills. Others have been deeply dug on the ground and they have a complex net of rooms around a central hole which is used as a fountain.
As for their beliefs, since their conversion to Islam in the 7th century (they were mostly Christians before this time) they have been faithful observant of its rules, except for the Ramadan fast that travellers are not obliged to follow. Like most Muslims in North Africa, many Berbers believe in the continuous presence of several spirits (djinns). Divination is carried out through the Koran. Most men use protecting amulets which contain verses from The Koran.
In Morocco the Drawa Berbers inhabit the region of the river Dra Valley; The Dades live in the North East; The Mesgita, Seddrat and Zeri along inflowing rivers of the North West; The Ghomara live in the Moroccan Rif, the north-eastern region of the country, north of Fez; The Kabyle, meaning "the tribes", originally referred to all Berbers. However, nowadays the term covers only Berbers living in Al-Quabail Mountains, and The Sousi in High Western Atlas Mountains.
Well-known modern Berbers in Europe include Zinedine Zidane, a French-born international football star of Algerian Kabyle descent, Loreen, the Swedish-born winner of Eurovision 2012, and Ibrahim Afellay, a Dutch-born football player of Moroccan Riffian descent.
Moroccan Berber women still have tattoos in geometric designs on their faces, sometimes covering much of their forehead, cheeks, and necks. these are marks of tribal identification and date from a time when it was necessary to be ale to spot women of one's trible who had been carried off in raids.
Dubbed Moroccan, or Berber, tea has become the national drink of Morocco. it was introduced to Morocco in 1854 when blockaded British merchants uploaded large quantities of tea at major Moroccan ports thé a la menthe ( Green Mint Tea) is chinese tea brewed with handful of mint leaves and loaded up with sugar.
Explore berber life
To better know the Berbers of Morocco, book a Morocco tour with (Enjoy Morocco Trips) and be sure to spend some of your time trekking in the Atlas mountains. Visit the palm oasisâ€™s of the Draa Valley or explore the Sahara by camelback, just to mention a couple. You’ll visit the many villages along the way. The Berber people are incredibly friendly and will offer to share a glass of famous Moroccan mint tea or cook you a traditional Moroccan dish for your dinner.
Houssein Your Moroccan tour guide will help you chose the best route for you. Visit the markets of Marrakech or Fez and you will find many examples of Berber craftsmanship. Stunning silver jewelry by Tuareg and Amazigh artists, handmade babouches or belga made in the workshops are among the treasures you will find. If your tastes run to elegant embroidered caftans, or textiles such as Berber carpets, pillows, kilims and so forth you will find them too.
Talk to Houssein your Moroccan tour guide and find your self on a vacation of your dreams. A Moroccan adventure will take you from the modern cities on the coast to Berber villages high in the Atlas or Rif Mountains where you can even trek in Chefchaouen.
You can go trekking or visit during one of the many festivals to see age-old Berber customs being practiced in today’s world. Stay in a modern riad or an ancient Kasbah. It matters not where you go in this magical land as you will find the adventure of a life time. You can customize your tour to suit your interests and needs. Book your Morocco tour and begin your adventure today.