The perplexed term ‘Berber’ is shrouded with mystery, just as the Berbers themselves. Regardless of whether some people like or dislike the use of the term ‘Berber’ the name had entered the international vocabulary and therefore it will be used here when writing in English. The matriarchal name ‘Tamazight’, albeit more popular in its recent masculine and patriarchal form Amazigh, is gradually becoming known to the outside world.
This is not to say that there is anything wrong with using the term Berber, just because it was mistakenly associated with Greek barbarous and the negative connotation it conveys – as it existed long before the Greeks and the Romans, and also was used by the Ancient Egyptians and the Berbers long before them. There is no doubt that the etymology of the name ‘Berber’ was altogether misunderstood, and it never meant ‘barbaric’ or ‘savage’ simply because the Romans used it to describe the Ancient Egyptians whom we all know were far more advanced and civilised than both the Romans and the Greeks.
Generally speaking the term “Berbers” was used by foreigners (or aliens some would say) to describe the native inhabitants of North Africa, while the Berbers call themselves Imazighen. Likewise, its etymology of “Free People” or “Freemen” has neither etymological basis nor historical foundation, and it was merely a superstitious conjuncture that somehow gained widespread popularity amongst both Berberists and European scholars, probably after it was introduced to them by Berber Leo Africanus, without questioning its authority or explaining how it came to have this bizarre etymology. Which part in the term ‘Imazighen’ that says ‘free’ and which part that means ‘people’ remain to be explained. The only etymology that can be concluded so far is “noble”, as in Tamaheqt majegh (‘nobel’). Noble they are, no doubt; but free is far from true. Freedom starts in the mind, then magically manifests in the real world.
Imazighen is the plural form of the masculine singular Amazigh or Mazigh, while ‘Timazighin’ is the plural form of the feminine singular Tamazight. This means that the recent use of the term ‘Amazigh’ to describe a group of people is incorrect because the term is singular; and therefore the correct form to use is the plural form: the Imazighen . The popular and masculine form used almost world-wide, namely “Amazigh Language”, does not exist; violates the sacred Tamazight; and seemingly is heading towards threatening the very base on which it was based – the matriarchal nature of the Berber society. Tamazight by itself means exactly that: ‘ language . Culture . Earth . identity . Humans and Religion ‘,
‘Tamazgha’, meaning the ‘land of the Imazighen’ (or North Africa), was also invented by activists to describe what the Berbers have always prescribed as Thamorth, (‘land, town, country’). Terms like ‘Amazighity’ (mixing the English suffix -ty with Berber a-Mazigh-) and ‘Imazighenautes’ (the Berber geeks of the internet) give the amusing impression that things are getting complicated.
Some might say this should not pose a threat, so long as modernisation is applied to illuminate (rather than integrate then eliminate). But nature has already taken care of this process in a natural way. TEK (‘Traditional Environmental Knowledge’) is continuously modernising all aspects of human existence in one complete system we know as evolution – with the free ‘will’ to steer one’s destiny.
This extensive TEK knowledge of indigenous People’s heritage and accumulative wisdom, which modern scientists now seek for new insights, insures cultural continuation and inspires new inventions of material types, smart tools and even new human societies altogether; encompassing all aspects of human’s existence. Yet despotic democracies, in contrast, emphasise only one single aspect on the expense of all other aspects including the desecration of nature, policing indigenous principles, impoverishing people, and even feeding the earth with toxic waste. This transitional expression will not succeed in evolutionary terms, because it violates long range perspective with which nature sees her future offspring thriving as ever!
The Amazighs ‘ mentality, their cheerful attitude to life, their customary egalitarian justice and tribal council of the elders (of both female and male transparent members of the society who lead by example), and all the good, unique elements that distinguish Tamazight society from the ‘warring’ ideals thriving in neighbouring and far distant countries may all become affected by, if not infected with, the new cultureless direction towards which the Berber society may one day find itself led to –> something the Imazighen of today ought to be concerned-with right now, rather than shortsightedly endure in decades to come. If the Berbers loose their unique sense of identity, as a Berber, one may no longer wish to remain a Berber, simply because there will be none in essence.
To take away from indigenous people their pride, then deprive them of the values at the heart of their existence, rather than preserve their priceless world heritage, goes against all human ideals allegedly reverberating across the moral world. The Berber Tuareg of the Sahara were also brought under the hammer in recent decades when they were forced to perform some patriarchal con-sessions to abandon a number of Tamazight matriarchal institutions including the “sacred matrilineal naming system”.
The conglomerate tribes known under the generic term of Berbers or Imazighen are the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa since time immemorial; currently distributed across a wide extent of country including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso.
In spite of the fact that extant linguistic evidence proves the Berber’s racial unity, from the Mediterranean to the Sudan and from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, many political and otherwise regimes still perceive Berber speech as a threat to their (presumed) national unity – albeit in conflict with the lost unity of the aforementioned conquered countries – The Berber Empire Without Borders.
The majority of Berbers (in terms of percentage) are found in Morocco, followed by Algeria, Niger, Mali then Libya. The Tuareg tribes of the Sahara Desert are also Berbers, whose language Tamasheght is considered the least corrupted out of all Berber languages – due to their geographical isolation from the turbulent north: always and always coveted by various invaders. Northern Mali was home for the largest concentration of Tuareg in the Sahara until recently – just before they were forced to flee their homeland by European invaders.
The Tuareg themselves reckon the year 1894 the year the French first seized their beloved Azawad – now in tatters. After a long history of resistance and rebellions, totally ignored by the civilised world, the Tuareg were “lured” into liberating their occupied homeland Azawad in 2012, only to be later hijacked by planted infiltrators to provide the catalyst for it to be destroyed in 2013 – and perhaps to lure Algeria too into conflict with its neighbours in the name of chaos.
The number of Berbers still in Tunisia is very small, estimated at 110,000 people (around 1%), found mainly in the south of the country and in the island of Djerba including in Dwirat, Metmata and Tataouine. In Mauritania only a small group of Berbers still speak Zenaga and Tamasheq. There is also a small population of Tuareg in Nigeria, speaking Tawallamat Tamajaq.
The current number of Berbers in Egypt is very small, estimated at 30,000 people, mostly in Siwa and in the region of Beni Suef. However, in ancient times all Egypt west of the Nile was inhabited by Berbers, including the Delta and all the oases in the Libyan Desert. In pre-Dynastic Egypt the Berbers were the dominant population of Egypt (before its invasion by the Pharaohs) regardless of what fabricated history still says. In today’s Arab Egypt the Siwans, like all other Berbers across the region, still are severely neglected by the ruling authority, where some Siwans say they were forced to adopt the Arab identity. Their ancient “gods” included the Berber God Amon, adopted by the Ancient Egyptians as Amen-Ra, by the Greeks as Zeus-Amon, and by the Phoenicians as Baal-Amon.
The Berbers’ supposed Iberian, Cretan, Canaanite or/and Yemenite origins are wholly unfounded, if not colonially impostored to divide and ruin, as anthropologists and historical linguists are increasingly pointing to the native nature of the Berbers. Regarding Ibn Khaldun’s widely-quoted Berber ancestors, Olwen Brogan points out that his genealogies are “as artificial as are most similar genealogies.” While specific Oric Bates states that ”The literary opinion generally current among the Arab writers acknowledged several lines of descent for the various groups of Berbers, each group being referred to an imaginary, and usually eponymous, ancestor.”
The histories of al-Bakari and Ibn Qotaybah (who identified the Berbers with the vanquished Philistines and the giant Goliath) Ibn Khaldun calls a “mistake”. So are those genealogies tracing the Berbers to Yemen, H’imir or Ber-Bin-Qis, which according to the anonymous author of Mafakher Al-Barbar (‘The Boasts of the Berbers’) are false and exist only in the minds of “jahilite” (1312 AD, p. 78).
In relation to the Berbers’ Canaanite origin, who adopted the language of the conquered Hamites, myth has it both Phoenix and Cadmus were the sons of Agenor, the son of goddess “Libya” by Poseidon, who left Egypt to settle in the land of Canaan; and thus one reads in Genesis (09: 22): “Ham [is] the father of Canaan” (not vice versa). Unfortunately, both sources are now deemed by science unfit to recorded history; while the science of linguistics does confirm Hamitic languages are much older than both Semitic and Indo-European languages.
It is probably because of these and similar other influences, like Oric Bates had said, “The Byzantine historian Procopius has, like Sallust, preserved a story of African origins which reflect this tendency on the part of the Libyans to relate their remote ancestry to Asia Minor.”
In fact Ibn Khaldun himself, nearly 700 years ago, made it clear that people “chose” to relate their origin to Semitic ancestors because Sam had five prophets when Ham had none. One can only wish prosperity for the “chosen ones”, and equally hope mercy and forgiveness for the “cursed” son of Ham – the “servant of servants”, Genesis says (09:25).
In addition to the above genealogies, relating our biological origin to eponymous male-ancestors, “mitochondrial DNA” genes trace all modern humans back to one female ancestor scientists called “African Eve”, who lived 100,000 years ago, in, Africa.
The indigenous Guanche inhabitants of the Canary Islands (west of Morocco, in the Atlantic Ocean) were also Berbers right down to the 16th century, just before they were condemned to oblivion by barbarians from medieval Europe.
Probably the most disastrous event in Berber history in relation to European conquests is the terrible massacre of the Guanche tribes of the Canaries. Unimaginable catastrophe; effected in the name of piracy.
They were completely isolated from the outside world, living in peace and tranquility, and reportedly had no contact with the outside world until Spanish conquerors broke-in to embark on their systematic genocide – a brutal job that took nearly 90 years of savage slaughter to complete.
Still worse, those ‘Berbers’ who hid in the sacred caves of the mountains were slowly hunted to extinction like poor animals; while the captured survivors were sold as “first-class slaves” in Europe’s aristocratic markets.
Without learning much about them, or about their painful tragedy, the Guanches were forced not-only to give up their beloved pride, and see their women & children slaughtered before their eyes, but also were forced to vanish off the surface of the ‘earth’.
Imagine. Imagine what it would be like had they survived to-day! Imagine what it would be like today if the Berber Guanche civilisation remain Imagine. Imagine what it would be like had they survived to-day! Imagine what it would be like today if the Berber Guanche civilisation remained so onto the present day; a rare treasure from our prehistoric past, where anthropologists say they did not even know about the “wheel” – the wooden wheel first invented by the Berber Garaments; the brakeless wheel that goes round an empty circle; the ouroboros wheel that eats itself to infinity; and yet more wheels to spin from the merciless “wheel of misfortune” – else known as the wheel of fortune to the chosen ones.
“Unfortunately, in the case of the Spanish conquests of the sixteenth century”, notes Elsdon Best, “that nation appears never to have considered it a duty to hand down to posterity any detailed description of the singularly interesting races they had vanquished. As it was with the Guanches of the Canaries, the Aztecs of Mexico, and the Quichuas of Peru, so was it with the Chamorro of the Ladrones, and the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes of the Philippines” (Pre-Historic Civilization In The Philippines, Journal of The Polynesian Society, vol. 1,1892, p. 118).
Perplexed as it might seem, tragedy after another, the Berbers’ destiny is fraught with pain and perpetual struggle against the destruction of their peaceful legacy – the untold saga of human’s longest misery in history – the massacre of identity.
Like the Arab war generals themselves had later said (in their wars against Queen Dihya) :– whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert.
When Berber Hannibal crossed the Alps and besieged Rome, the Roman emperor fled to hide behind his city walls – for 12 years – apparently afraid to give the Berber general a fair fight. When Hannibal was advised by his war generals to end the 12-year siege and burst through the city gates (as the Romans later did Carthage), he wisely reprimanded them that ‘women & children’ shall never be ‘collateral damage’. Commanding Hannibal declined to murder women and children because he was a man.
Hannibal even refused to be made ‘dead’, when he voluntarily declared the return of his soul to the lone stars; not because he was scarred of death, but because he was afraid to live a matricidal master.
No wonder a single glimpse of the Berber Gorgon’s eyes instantly turns ‘man’ to ‘stone’. The blood droplets that fell off her severed head were said to have infested the Sahara with ‘serpents’.
Scientist estimate that 50% of the 7,000 languages still spoken today will disappear by the year 2100. The main reasons for the language massacre are ‘oppression’ and ‘injustice’ (endangeredlanguages.com). If unprotected constitutionally a language may eventually die.
On average, one language goes extinct every week in this modern age (of technology and enlightenment), often due to democratic and dictatorial conquerors’ open neglect. Berber language however is one of the oldest languages on the surface of the earth.
Berber, Arabic, Italian, French and English are all widely used in North Africa, where most if not all educated Berbers are either bilingual or trilingual speakers. Berber languages of North Africa are classified as close relatives of Chadic and Ancient Egyptian in the Afroasiatic Phylum. The hopeless term Afro-Asiatic designates nothing to us, other than translate the ousted Hamito-Semitic label, where Hamitic was somehow replaced with “Afro”, and Semitic tweaked as “Asiatic” – even though both terms give the illusive impression that this family encompasses all African and Asian languages in one single family, when they do not.
And so it follows that studying Berber in isolation of Egyptian, Chadian, Omotic and Cushitic languages is not necessary since one needs to approach the whole Family of Afroasiatic as one entity, not to prove whatever was meant to be proven, or whatever brothers are fighting for, but simply to venture deeper in time to understand its source. That source will tell us what we do not know, dear friends, or at least guide us in the right way. And even then, regardless of any amusing skin-colour theories or genetic interpretations, which ultimately regress us to our primal past – inescapably, it is the culture question that requires correct understanding and unperplexed interpretation.
Berber languages were also linked to Euskara, Asian Dravidian, Polynesian Maori, Japanese Ainu, American Zuni, Greek, Latin and Germanic languages; while some linguists suggested placing Celtic, Welsh and other Western European languages with Afroasiatic – rather than with IE. Thus many linguists increasingly believe the ancient Mediterranean peoples were more closely-related than has been previously documented. Isolate Basque’s Euskara is clearly related to Berber language and yet it was abruptly placed with the Na-Dene group. The geographic proximity of the two however stays stuck between the Pyrenees Alps and the Atlas like a mountain in the sky. The geographic route from the Atlas Mountain to Iberia, via the straits of Gibraltar, and on to Britain and Ireland speaks volumes by itself – without a single word.
No doubt, being the bridge between Africa, Europe and Asia implies long, continual contact with various migrants, refugees and invaders – of all sorts and colours; but then these often take place both ways, and not only one way. Long time ago, Diakonoff wrote: “It is reasonable to suppose that the speakers of Proto-Semitic had separated from Proto-Berbero-Libyan some time during the Neolithicum (6th – 5th millennium B.C.) . . . The tribes speaking the Proto-Semitic language went north-eastward crossing the Nile valley (still unfit for settlement), and, passing onward over the Suez isthmus, spread throughout the Middle East . . . The Libyan-Guanche tribes went in the opposite direction up to the Atlantic coast and the Canaries; and possibly, over into the Pyrenaean Peninsula . . . The Iberians, the ancient population of the Pyrenaean Peninsula . . . are sometimes believed to be linguistically related to the Berbero-Libyans, but the surviving Iberian texts make this hypothesis very plausible” (Afrasian Languages, Moscow 1988, pp. 32, 33).
The direction of influence in which some supremacists entertain the foreign origin of the Berbers can be dislodged, and replaced by a dual highway through which traffic still flows around the Mediterranean world to nurture culture – and genes too, Ridley adds. At times, it seems more like a roundabout, and at other times the traffic collides head on disaster. In the long run Europe’s Ice Ages and the Sahara’s droughts alternate back and forth, receding and proceeding according to Gaia’s clock, reshuffling population flow, and slowly rocking the cradle of civilisation to sleep.
Long before the Romans appeared across the pages of history (to eventually expel most native European languages to extinction and impose Latin instead), Cretan, Sumerian and other extinct Mediterranean languages and cultures were also linked to Berber. Applying the throttle to venture deeper into the “long range” linguists came to connect all these languages with other language families from around the world, like Nostratic and other global superfamilies, comprising yet-much-bigger boundaries.
Sending the throttle to maximum linguists have come full circle, reversing the trend by uniting the chaotic classification of languages into one Mother Language – just as geneticists came to trace all modern humans to one African Mother they named African Eve. Pessimists say this will never be possible; while optimists as ever see only promising light. (For more on protolanguage, Google global etymology and Ruhlen.)
To make premature conclusions about a civilisation that is hardly documented, let alone understood, where hundreds of thousands of prehistoric art sites in the Sahara still are awaiting discovery and analysis, and where countless ancient cities still buried beneath the sand (seen recently only by satellites) can only fuel further confusion – at times justifiably leading to unjust wars.
The number of unbiased studies about Berber language(s) and civilisation(s) is hardly any, compared to the popularised Greek’s and Ancient Egyptian’s edited histories; and until then one can only wait for the facts to emerge from the deserted desert, before one is empowered by its hidden secrets.
Libya’s previous rulers and their friends showed no serious interest in Libya’s deepest history; and let us hope the new leaders can see the light that made them who they are – the light that made them see in pitch-black darkness.
Libya’s archaeological and prehistoric heritage, oral literature and other obscure-d venues shall provide rich environment for determined Berberists to research and ultimately enjoy – once freedom sinks in; the spring blossoms with real flowers (instead of metal stings); and the “chariots of fire” fall back to Hell.
Thus to this day, Berber language remains persecuted, unofficial and extensively neglected, as much as “recorded history” itself still refuses to update its pages with the most recent results.
When the Roman arrived in North-West Africa, there were a number of Berber Kingdoms in existence, the most influential of which was Numidia or Numidae. According to Herodotus, the Libyans comprised two major groups: the agricultural population of the coastal regions, and the shepherds or the Nomads, of which Numidae is the Latin form. The Numidae of the Second Punic War were essentially the Berber tribes of the Masaesyli and the Massyli, the subjects of the Berber kings Syphax and Masinissa respectively. The Numidian kingdom of Masinissa eventually included all of Tripolitania. When Hannibal invaded Italy, in his adventure across the Alps (shattering big rocks in the way by heating them with fire and pouring wine along the cracks), he reached Rome and laid siege to the capital city for nearly 12 years.
During these years the Roman emperor with his generals and slaves were held prisoners in their own capital. Here most historians agree that Hannibal had committed his greatest mistake: not attacking Rome whilst he laid siege. Apparently historians also say Hannibal’s morality prevented him from attacking Roman women and children in their own homes, and instead he hopped the men will come out and give him a decent fight.
Instead of seemingly fighting to death, their treachery inspired them to plot behind the besieged city walls to divert the war to North Africa and take the fight back to Carthage. When Carthage was attacked by the Romans the Carthaginian government fell in the trap, just as others still do today, and immediately recalled Hannibal from Rome. Hearing the order to return to Carthage Hannibal knew exactly what the Romans had in mind, but he had to fulfil his “national duty” – against the advice of his most closest generals – and returned to defend his homeland.
Then in the 5th century (around 429 AD) Libya was invaded by the Germanic Vandals under the command of Genseric. In 432 the Vandals seized Hippo Regius and made it their first capital in North Africa; before invading the province of Africa Proconsularis and seizing Carthage on the 19th of October 439. Consequently the Vandals strengthened their positions and proceeded towards Rome which they ransacked. The Romans thereafter failed on a number of occasions to defeat the Vandals, except perhaps the defeat of the Vandal-Berber army in 457 by Emperor Majorian at Garigliano. The Berbers, on the other hand, having been already exhausted by centuries of wars against the earlier invaders, have defeated the Vandals on a number of occasions including two major defeats between 496–530. It was not until the death of Genseric on the 25th of January 477 that the Vandals empire began to decline. After the succession of Hilderic (523–530) the army was left to Hoamer, who was defeated by the Berbers; leading to an internal revolt among the royal Vandals that ended up with Hilderic, Hoamer and their relatives being imprisoned; before the end of the Vandals Kingdom at the hands of the Byzantine Belisarius in 534. Once again the Berbers find themselves in limbo, being pushed back to square one, while the Romans regained control over North Africa.
Contrary to popular belief the Berbers’ resistance to the Arab invasions was long and fierce. Both king Kusila and the Berber priestess-queen Dihya fiercely resisted the invasions. Like the Arab war generals themselves had said (in their wars against queenDihya): whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert.
It must be noted that the Berbers had no problem with Islam, but they strongly resisted the Arab conquest, the political invasions that robbed them of their sovereignty. When queen Kahina sent a message to Hassan Ben Nua’man (the general of the Arab army) enquiring about the reason for their invasion, and Hassan replied that they had a message from God, the queen replied: “let us have the message and go back to your homeland”.
Queen and General Dihya foretold her destiny and died in battle defending her nation. Some Arabs find it blasphemous for a Berber to speak about Berber historical personalities as heroes, and to those one can only repeat that the prophetess Kahina had no problem with the message of Islam but strongly objected to the messenger invading her Kingdom.
However, those Berbers who refused to accept Islam, according to Oric Bates (in quoting Arab sources) were instead ordered to pay jizya (‘tax’). Those who did not have the money to pay the tax were given permission by Amr Ibn el-Asi to sell their women and children:
“Having taken Alexandria, Amr marches on Barkah. He “proceeded at the head of his troops,” writes el-Biladuri, “toward the Moghreb, and attacked Barkah, a city of the Pentapolis. He gave peace to its population, Amr Ibn el-Asi wrote in the treaty which he gave to the Luatah Berbers, of the country of Barkah: ‘ you shall have the right of selling your children and your women to pay off your share of the tribute.’ ” – The inhabitants seem to have collected and remitted this tribute without the unwelcome aid of Arab tax-gatherers”
In the year 642 Amr Ibn el-Asi arrived in Cyrenaica and established his base at Barqa. A few years later he moved towards Tripolitania, removed the remaining Byzantine garrisons, and took control of Tripoli.
After Amr Ibn el-Asi, the Caliph sent general Uqba bin Nafi, who moved towards Fezzan in 663 and took Germa, before claiming the province of Africa in 670 AD, where he established another military base at Kairouan (al Qayrawan), in preparation to attack Byzantine-controlled Carthage, which they finally took in 693 AD.
It was reported that the orders were given to raze Carthage to the ground, once more, after having been already ransacked by the Romans not long ago. Similar orders were also given by the Arabs in relation to Sabratha, the capital of the Berber Nafusa tribes. Shortly afterwards, the Muslims arrived in Morocco, before they crossed to Spain, under the command of the Berber general Tariq Bin Zayyad.
By the seventh century, a power struggle ensued between the supporters of the rival claimants to the caliphate, thereby creating two sects: the Sunni and the Shia. About 200 years later, Shia missionaries of the Ismaili sect succeeded in converting the Kutama of Kabylia and set them against the Sunni Aghlabids, where they took Kairouan in the following year.
Soon afterwards the wars broke out, once again, between the Fatimid of North Africa and Baghdad; eventually leading the Fatimid caliph to invite Bani Hilal and Bani Salim bedouin tribes from the Arabian peninsula. It is these two tribes that signaled the arrival of Arab tribes in North Africa and began the process of Arabisation.
In short, after nearly three centuries (on and off) of wars with the Arabs the Berbers succeeded in maintaining some form of independence from the sultans of the Middle East; leading to the Berber dynasties to remain very powerful down to the 16th century; after which they began to decline.
Combined with the invasions of the Turkish pashas, and subsequently the disastrous European invasions, the official Arabisation of the various Berber confederacies began to take visible shape. It was reported that Europeans first arrived as explorers, mapping the tribes and the rich-resources of the continent, then as colonisers, dividing Africa by imposing the political borders now we know as ‘Arab countries’, in total disregard for the ethnic integrity of the local tribes they came to subjugate.
One of the earliest Berber revolts started in 740 AD (around 122 AH), in Tangier, Morocco, before it spread to the rest of North Africa and Spain. The rebellion, said to be led by Maysara al-Matghari, was triggered in response to the state into which Berber North Africa was brought to after 641 AD. Under the Umayyad Caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik, the Caliphs and sultans reportedly began to treat the native Berbers with indifference as they viewed them inferior and pagan tribes who were “barbaric” and “unorganised”, to whom they claimed brought civilisation and “unity”. It was also reported that the Berbers were frequently assigned harsher duties during the ensued wars, like stationing them in the frontline while Arab forces were kept in the rear. The revolt achieved a degree of success, as the fighters succeeded in liberating a number of provinces; but the Arabs strengthened their positions and held on to their command-and-control centre at Kairouan. Even though full victory was not achieved by the Berbers, the limited success saw the creation of a number of Berber States and Dynasties across the Maghreb (‘The West’); thereby transferring control of most of North Africa back to the Berbers, as the Caliphs of the east lost complete control over North Africa. Some Moroccan historians consider this revolt to be the beginning of Moroccan independence, as Morocco never came under foreign rule since, until the 20th century when modern colonial armies arrived. However, the independence of Morocco from France in the 20th century, in which France passed on control to the minority Arab population of Morocco, was only seen as such by the Arabs of Morocco, as the Berbers of Morocco became second class citizens in their own country; and therefore true independence of Morocco from the perspective of the 740 AD revolt, it can be argued, is yet to be realised.1902-1903:
The Berber rebellion of 1902 was started by the Berber tribes of the Rif in the region of Taza; and was led by Jilali Ibn Idriss al- Zarhuni al-Yusufi (commonly known as Bu Himara, meaning: “the man with the she-ass”). The re billion was so successful that the Makhzan rulers failed to collect taxes, and after a series of victories against the Sharifian mahallas, the Berber leader was declared Sultan by the powerful confederation of the Ghiata; where he created his own Berber government (long before al Khatabi declared his own Rif Republic in 1923). By 1903 his influence grew to neighbouring regions, and with his forces uniting with other forces they inflicted a heavy defeat on the Makhzan tribes, forcing the representatives of the sultan, namely Mulay Marni and Mulay ‘Arafa, to flee to Spanish Melilla and Algerian Marnia respectively.
[Contrary to fake history, which accuses the Berbers of collaborating with the colonial enemy, it was the Moroccan government who sought help from France. This will prove crucial 20 years later (see below: 1923) when a combined French-Spanish force used toxic gas to destroy the Berber Rif rebellion.]
Nonetheless France took advantage of the invitation and invaded Morocco, taking the capital of Eastern Morocco, Ujda, and by 1907 they occupied Casablanca itself. After the fall of Bu Himara in 1909, the French invaders took Fes in 1911, before establishing the French Protectorate in March 1912.
The Atlas mountains, without a doubt, had provided the Berbers of Morocco with greater protection from the various invaders who roamed the coastal plains. Analysts had pointed out that for most of the past 13 centuries the High Atlas mountains have been exclusively controlled by groups of armed Berber leaders who refused to submit to the Arab sultans of the low coast, as much as they resisted pacification from neighbouring Europeans; especially between 1918 and 1920 when the Rif tribesmen revolted against the French and Spanish penetration of Morocco.1920s:
In August the 27th, 2010, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CRED) examined the reports submitted by Morocco in accordance with Article 9th of the UN Convention, and consequently issued a number of requirements, including the need for Morocco to step up its efforts to promote Tamazight language and to consider the inclusion of Tamazight in the Moroccan Constitution as an official language.Archaeological History & Evidence
The authors of “The Berbers” (1996) came under sharp criticism by a number of scholars and activists for the poor picture they claim to be the first comprehensive guide to the Berbers in the English language. In their Introduction, M. Brett and E. Fentress state that, “No general book on the Berbers is available in English. One of the most unfortunate consequences of this is the total ignorance in both Great Britain and the United States of the existence of the Berbers . . . This book is intended as a step towards answering the question, and perhaps toward a modification of the idea that Mediterranean history can be divided between black Africans and white Europeans.”
This sounds a good book, especially when its back cover carries the approval of the Journal of North African Studies (JNAS), and perhaps when the cover is black – with the title (‘The Berbers’) written in ‘white’. However, starting Berber history from 7000 BC is either a mistake or ‘somethingelse’. No doubt, ignorance could have played its role, as the authors say, but London is a great city for books about the Berbers and conceivably about any other culture in the world. So what does that say?
Colour too still plays its usual part, where some Afrocentricists, Eurocentricists, Arayanists and other exotic specialists are getting lost in the web, applying colour to the pagan gods of the ancient world. But the most devastating factor is nothing but ‘persecution’ itself – going back not 42 years (as some now say) but centuries upon centuries, legally depriving the Berbers from expressing “themselves”.
Hence it is about time the Berbers start writing their own history. It is about time the Berbers break away from this long period of darkness in which supremacists wrote like tyrants, and in which brutal dictators and democratic conquerors ruled like “brats”
Simply put, the amount of material available in libraries – especially London’s wonderful British Library (in English and conceivably in any other language) – would easily allow any ‘independent’ student to write a comprehensive Berber history going back not to 7000 BC but to the beginning of Afroasiatic language itself, and perhaps all the way back to the lost civilisations of the Sahara and beyond.
There are several studies and fossil remains from Casablanca, Cyrenaica, Ternifine and Rabat, documenting the existence of the indigenous Berbers (or/and their extinct ancestors) in North Africa for at least one million years (1,000,000) – when the first wave of early modern humans began to leave Africa – presumably to explore the “prim-eval world’, still infested with cannibals.
The Lower Pleistocene sites of Algerian Ain Hanech and Moroccan Casablanca have, long time ago, provided some of the earliest evidence for “human behaviour”, which arriving at a time when most archaeologists believed no human artifacts older than the Pleistocene can be found can only confirm tool-making humans had lived in North Africa in the Pliocene.
Among the sprung, flourished and vanished cultures of North Africa are the Libyan Pre-Aurignacian culture (85,000 BC); the Libyan Dabba culture (40,000 BC); Aterian culture (40,000-20,000 BC); Ibero-maurusian culture (22,000 BC); the Eastern Oranian culture (15,000-9,000 BC); and the Mesolithic culture of Murzuk in southern Libya (10.000-6.000 BC).
The Garamantian civilisation was also one of the cultures involved in the Sahara’s cultural proliferation. Rüdiger and Gabriele Lutz (1955) recall the cultures of Fezzan to have evolved over the past hundreds of thousands of years and vanished under adverse conditions. “Stone tools of bygone eras are lying about in millions, from the relics of early and late Acheulian (up to 500.000 years), Levalloisian (100.000 years) and Mousterian (50.000 years).”
The unique Haua Fteah Cave in Cyrenaica was previously documented by McBurney and others to preserve a continuous archaeological history in Libya from about 100,000 BC to the present – one continuous line of living entities in one single cave, the largest cave in the Mediterranean basin, and one of the largest caves in the (visible) world. This means that the cave was occupied by Libyans at about the same time African Eve left Africa to colonise the savage world some 100,000 years ago.
The five Berber Libyan Nasamonians of ancient Eastern Libya were perhaps the first ever to venture into the Sahara desert – at least the first to leave a record of their heroic efforts for us to hear. During the conversation between some Libyans (from Cyrene) and the Ammonian king Etearchus (regarding the riddle of the source of the river Nile), the latter, according to Herodotus, “had once had a visit from certain Nasamonians, a people who live in Syrtis and the country a little to the eastward. Being asked if there was anything more they could tell him about the uninhabited parts of Libya, these men declared that a group of wild young fellows, sons of chieftains in their country, had on coming to manhood planned amongst themselves all sorts of extravagant adventures, one of which was to draw lots for five of their number to explore the Libyan desert and try to penetrate further than had ever been done before”.
Eratosthenes of Cyrene ( c. 276 BC – c. 195/194 BC): a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist who entered history for being the first man to measure the diameter of planet Earth; the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth; and the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Being a man of learning he became the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He is also known for inventing the discipline of geography, inventing the leap day, calculating the distance between the Earth to the Sun, and creating the first map of the world. For more information please see (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes), or download Eratosthenes’ Geography.
Hanno (ca 500 – 450 BC): the North African navigator Hano was among the first to explore the west African coast. About 2000 years ago Berber Mauritania’s king Juba’s expedition went as far west as the Canaries – long before their inhabitants were slaughtered by European pirates. [It might be of interest to note here that Pausanias (Description of Greece, v. 1, xvii, 2) informs us that there were statues of the Libyan Juba in the gymnasium of Ptolemy, near the market-place of beloved Athena.] Whether Hanno was a Berber or a Phoenician it is not easy to say – not for lack of destroyed records and burnt Berber libraries, as much as references were made to “Hanno the Libyan, starting out from Carthage” and travelling beyond the “Columns of Heracles out into the ocean, keeping Africa on his left”.
Ibn Batuta: Between 1325 and 1354 the Berber Moroccan Ibn Batuta explored the western portions of the Sahara, and along the northern coast of the continent he reached east Africa, before continuing his quest into Arabia. His claim of reaching as far as the “Far East” were said far-fetched, just as those of other ancient and medieval travellers. Not to mention that the proper geography of Africa itself became known to Europeans only after Leo Africanus published his Description de l’Afrique in 1550 – on which Marmol himself based his book Afrique (1573 AD).
Leo Africanus (1485 – 1554): a North African Berber geographer, explorer and traveller who wrote a Geographical History of Africa, including a description of the Berber kingdoms and Timbuktu. Even three centuries later, European geographers continued to draw fancy pictures of wild beasts in unknown places and brown Africans and dwarfs in uninhabited zones in their maps of Africa. Leo Africanus wrote his book in Arabic, before it was translated into Italian. The book was written in 1526, but it was not published until 1550, when the book came into the hands of Jean-Baptiste Ramusio – who was said to may have rewrote the entire book. Unfortunately we will never know how much has been added or removed because Leo’s original work did not survive. The Italian edition was later translated into English in 1600 by John Pory.
To speak of geographers without mentioning astrolabes would be unfair, and so the Berber story goes by saying the Moorish (Berber) astrolabe (1067) was used for geographical orientation before the Chinese invented the magnetic needle in 1119, and long before the invention of the octant and then the sextant in the 18th century.
Estevan De Dorantes: another Berber explorer rarely mentioned in history books is the Moroccan Estevan (Estevanico) De Dorantes. He was from the Berber village of Azemmour, who was a member of the Narvaez expedition that sailed from Spain in 1527. They were stranded on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and consequently captured by the native Americans. He was reported to have died when he was attacked by the Berber-like Zuni tribes between 1539 and 1540. Apparently he continued practicing his native Berber religious duties, to eventually become highly respected by the Zuni people, some of whom even worshipped him as a demi-god.
Abbas Bin Firnas (810 – 887 AD): the Berber, Andalusian inventor-engineer Abbas Bin Firnas was born in Izn-Rand Onda (Ronda, Spain) in 810 AD. At the age 70 he has entered the pages of history as the first man to fly. Inspired by birds, he invented artificial wings, covered them and himself with feathers, took to a hill in Cordoba, and launched himself into the air. He was said to have flown for a considerable time before he crash-landed, badly hurting his back, apparently because he failed to include a ‘tail’ in his prototype. His story was told by the Moroccan historian Ahmed Mohammed Maqqari (d.1632), based on a 9th century account of the poet Mu’min Ibn Said, who said that Ibn Firnas flew faster than the phoenix and that he dressed his body in the feathers of a vulture [Lynn Townsend White, Jr., Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Eleventh Century Aviator: A Case Study of Technological Innovation, Its Context and Tradition, Technology and Culture 2 (2), 1961, p. 97–111].
Callimachus (310/305 – 240 BC): a Berber poet from Cyrene, Eastern Libya. He was a critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, famous for being the first librarian in the world who produced the world’s first library catalogue in 245 BC – a stupendous 120 volumes long bibliographic survey of the contents of the Alexandria Library, organized by authors and subjects, and collectively known as the “Pinakes” (‘tables’).
Saint Augustine (13 November 354–28 August 430): one of the most known of Africa’s 100 bishops is the Berber bishop of Algerian Hippo St. Augustine, one of the first Christian philosophers whose contribution to Christian thought is detailed in his book: “The City of God”.
Saint Mark (1st century AD): the first Christian Bible was written by Saint Mark – a Berber native of Cyrene, in Libya’s Green Mountain, else known as the author of the “Gospel of Mark” and the founder of Christianity in Africa. Upon his arrival in Egypt he founded the Church of Alexandria and began spreading the new religion – the religion which Berber Arius Ammonius deplored for being freely mixed with pagan philosophy. Both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria are considered the successors of saint Mark’s Church of Alexandria.
Arius Ammonius (AD 250/256 – 336 AD): the Berber leader of the movement of reform and modernization in Christianity in North Africa, who emphasized the Father’s divinity over the Son. He was an ascetic Christian presbyter and a priest of the church of Baucalis in Alexandria, Egypt. He was described as being a tall man of pure morals and distinguished appearance, with charming personality and an aura of intellectual superiority.
Sextus Julius Africanus (c. 160 – c. 240) : the Berber scholar and historian Sextus is known for choosing the date on which to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Christian Bible does not provide any information about the date on which Jesus was born, but after a few hundred years Christian theologians agreed on the date chosen by the Berber scholar, namely the 25th of December (Christmas Day). The BBC has a short video about this little fact in its website. His surname, Africanus, clearly preserves his African origin. The 25th of December apparently is the date on which the three stars of Orion’s belt (the so-called “three kings”) align with both the Sirius star and the rising sun, and hence the Son is the Sun
Ancient Berber Kings, Queens & Personalities
Shoshenq I: (Shishenq I): Berber Pharaoh, founder of the Egyptian 22nd dynasty (945-924 BC); (946-925); (943-922)? Shoshenk’s daughter was married to king Solomon, who built a special palace for her.
- Wayheset: Libyan king.
- Osorkon I: Amazigh King, probably son of Shoshenq from Karima (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 924-889 BC).
- Queen Makere: wife of King Osorkon I.
- Shoshenq II: Amazigh King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 890-889 BC).
- Takeloth I: Amazigh King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 889-874 BC).
- Osorkon II: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 874-850 BC).
- Horseise: Hight Preist of Amon: son of Sheshonk II.
- Takeloth II: Amazighr King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 850-825 BC).
- Amazigh chief Larbas: negotiated a deal to marry Princess Dido in 814 BC (Tarshish: Carthage)?
- Pediese: Great Chief of the Meshwesh.
- Hetihenker: Great Chief of the Meshwesh.
- Shoshenq Ill: Amazigh King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 825-773 BC).
- Pimay (‘The Cat’): son of Shoshenq III: (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 773-767 BC).
- Bakennefi: brother of Pimay: Prince of Heliopolis.
- Shoshenq IV: Amazigh King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 767-730 BC).
- Osorkon IV: Amazigh King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 730-715).
- Pedubast: Amazigh King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Input II: Amazigh King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Sheshong VI: AmazighKing (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Osorkon III: Amazigh King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Takeloth III: Amazigh King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Rudamon: Amazigh King: (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Tefnakht: Amazigh King, founder of the Egyptian 24th dynasty (unified the Delta).
- Bocchoris: Amazigh King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
- Masinissa: King of Numidia.
- Jugurtha: King of Numidia.
- Juba II: King of Numidia.
- Macrinus: Roman emperor.
- Clodius Albinus: ruler of Britannia.
- Lusius Quietus: ruler of Judaea.
- Quintus Lollius Urbicus: ruler of Britannia (138 – 144 AD).
- Septimius Severus: Libyan Roman emperor (193 – 211 AD).
- Tacfarinas: (Leader of the wars against the Romans in the Aures Mountains).
- Firmus: (fought the Romans: 372 – 375).
- Gildo: (fought the Romans in 398).
- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence: writer, Latin).
Lucius Apuleius: author of “The Transformations of Lucius Apuleius of Madaura”, otherwise known as “The Golden Ass”. Wonderful work of written-art. A maze of clues. A treasure for the future to indulge. Humour at its best. Queen Isis.
- Priscian: (Latin grammarian).
- Marcus Cornelius Fronto: (Roman grammarian).
- Saint Augustine of Hippo: Christian philosopher; the founder of Christian Philosophy).
- Saint Monica of Hippo: (Saint Augustine’s mother).
- Arius: (proposed the doctrine of Arianism).
- Donatus Magnus: (head of Donatist School).
- Gelasius I: (Pope: 492-496).
- Victor I: (Pope: 186-201).
- Miltiades: (Pope: 311-314).
- Al-Mansur: (712-775).
- Tariq ibn Ziyad (Zeyyad): (leader of the army that invaded Spain in 711 AD).
- Adrian of Canterbury: Abbot of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury.
Dihya: Kahina: Berber Queen, Priestess and War General; the fiercest Berber leader who defended her nation to death. According to the Arab generals themselves, she defeated them like no other general had done before her, and that whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert.
- Aksil: Kusayla: King or tribal leader.
- Salih ibn Tarif of Berghouata: translated the Koran to Berber.
- Abbas Ibn Firnas: first man to fly.
- Ibn Tumart: founder of the Almohad dynasty.
- Yusuf ibn Tashfin: Almoravid dynasty.
- Al Idrisi: scientist and geographer.
- Ibn Battuta: traveller.
- Ibn Khaldoun: histography.
- Leo Africanus: geographer and historian.
- Abu Yaqub Yusuf I.
- Abu Yaqub Yusuf II.
- Ziri ibn Manad: founder of Zirid dynasty.
- Muhammad Awzal.
- Muhammad al-Jazuli: Sufi.
- Imam al-Busiri: poet.
- Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi.