Moroccan Amazigh – Toulshop

Moroccan Amazigh

The Moroccan culture is widely diverse and rich in terms of ethnics, languages and traditions.  Going along with the Moroccan cities and villages, one can discover a hectic cultural amalgam. Although being the official language in Morocco, Arabic is not the only spoken language in the country. A large Moroccan popularity defines themselves as Amazigh (the native dwellers of North Africa). Amazigh refers to an ancient ethnic groups lived in North Africa since an ancient time. Historians cannot decide exactly the period when they first showed up in North Africa due to the lack of manuscripts or any historical hints. Some claim that the Amazigh existence in Morocco coincides the Jews’.  “Similarly, Berber origins are shrouded in myth and mist »1 stated Bruce Maddy-Weitzman “ … Only in recent decades has scholarship been able to present a more credible, albeit partial account, showing that Berbers’ geographical and anthropological origins are multiple, emanating from the Mediterranean, Nile valley and the Sahara, resulting in a composite population during Neolithic times.”1 Bruce added.

In 2011 Morocco institutionalized the Amazigh language and insisted on teaching it in the Moroccan schools and universities. The king of Morocco Mohamed the sixth created an Amazigh culture institution which is known as (IRCAM). This action is a clear attempt from the country to recognize the Amazigh culture and offer a prompt space for Amazigh researchers to express their culture and themselves. However, the implementation of Amazigh studies in Moroccan universities is still limited because of the lack of resources since the Amazigh culture is oral par-excellence. Another problem is the Amazigh alphabet is not widely spread, so researchers are obliged to adopt the French language as a research language.

Talking about the Amazigh cultural practices, they are very special. Amazigh people put a high stress on some cultural values such as hospitality, generosity and respect. Daif Allah (Moroccan Arabic for “the guest of God”) is a famous term used in the Moroccan society to show that the guest is a valuable person who should be well treated. This value is highly respected among the Amazigh communities. In return, the guest must leave some food in the dish because the host offers all the food to the guest and keeps nothing for the other family members. The guest can stay three days because the Amazigh people believe that the prophet Mohammad (the prophet of Islam) used to receive guests for three days and be generous with them.

Celebrations and funerals are very special among Amazigh people for the long time they take. In weddings Amazigh people build a huge tent in the street and receive all the neighbors and family members, and keep it sometimes up to one week. The length of the event depends on how wealthy the family is. The rich families spend a lot of money offering food and sweets to the invited people calling it Sadaka (Moroccan Arabic for “alms”). Similarly in case of funerals, Amazigh people dwell a lot on this sad event and receive almost all relatives and neighbors, but this time food and drinks are brought by the coming visitors as an action of solidarity.





1 Narrating the past serving the present: the berber Identity movement and the jewish connection

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