Young girl taking part in the Imichil Wedding Festival
Photographer: Bruno Barbey
The town of Imilchil represents a symbol of Berber culture, known for its festival, officially known as Betrothal Festival – the Souk Aamor Agdoud N’Oulmghenni. The legend goes that two young people from different tribes fell in love, but were forbidden to see each other by their families. The grief led them to cry themselves to death, creating the neighbouring lakes of Isli (his) and Tislit (hers) near Imilchil. The families decided to establish a day on the anniversary of the lovers’ death – when members of local tribes could marry each other. Thus the Imilchil Marriage Festival was born. In reality, the region is a large scattering of tiny villages, and when young person needs to find a partner, they can’t simply go and look for one, due to the conservative social norms. Thus, the festival allows for fathers to show their daughters and find husbands for them. When a woman accepts a man’s proposal to marry, she says “You have captured my liver”. (Tq massa n uchemt) Up to 40 couples take their vows on the same day. The festival is rich with music, dancing, feasts, and colorful clothing. The celebrations attracts many tourists to the area, and though contributing to local economy, there are fears that the rituals can be affected by the foreigners.
In the dry folds of the High Atlas mountains, approaching the Sahara, there’s an unexpected place called the Vallée des Roses where, in spring, the entire area is awash with pink Persian roses. In the small town of El-Kelaâ M’Gouna, roses nestle among hedgerows so that they’re not immediately visible, but they are the town’s lifeblood, from their cultivation through to the production of rosewater. The flowers are harvested in mid-May, an event celebrated in the colourful and sweet-smelling Rose Festival, which draws around 20,000 people to the small town. The three-day festival is a time of song and dance, feasting, souk-like markets and a chariot procession through a shower of rose petals. There’s also a beauty pageant of sorts, with a Miss Rose crowned each year.
Azul ! Thank you for your
question, it is very interesting to talk about these kind of subjects.
A genocide is, by definition, « the intentional action to
destroy a people (usually defined as an ethnic, national, racial, or religious
group) in whole or in part ». Officially and according to this definition,
Imazighen haven’t faced a genocide. However, there is not a lot of written
records about our History, we didn’t have any official census until recently (and
most of them were made by the colonizers).
If there have been one or more, we don’t have any proof of it.
We know that Imazighen have been victims of massacres and
torture (during colonizations for instance, in order to submit them to the
colonial rule/religion/tax…), slavery, rape and looting. I will give you
some examples among many others down below :
historians estimate that between A.D. 650 and 1900, 10 to 20 million people
were enslaved by Arab slave traders (Africans, including Imazighen).
historian Mohammed Talbi says that, in less than a century, since the advent of
Oqba Ibn Nafi Al Fihri until the one of Abd al-Aziz Ibn Musa Ibn Nusair, 415.000
Imazighen have been enslaved (this slavery also lasted under the Abbassides and
the Banu Hilal).
to the writer Amine Zaoui, thousands of Amazigh women (and girls) have been
deported to Middle East and sold to be reduced to slavery and/or sexual slavery
under the reigns of the Umeyyade caliphs Hichem Ibn Abdelmalek (691-743) and of
his father, Abdel Malek Ibn Marouane (646-705).
On another hand,
it is certain that Imazighen have faced and are still facing an ethnocide in North Africa, which is by definition, « the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic
group, accomplished either by destroying the members of the group (genocide) or
by destroying its cultural identity (culturicide) ». You can, that way, notice that Imazighen are mentioned
in the french Wikipedia web page about the word “ethnocide” (“Berbères en
Afrique du Nord”), as well as Native Americans. This ethnocide is the result of
centuries of arabization and acculturation, this is the reason why so many North Africans have
lost their identity and culture through the years, and why a
majority of them claim to be arab nowadays.
I would like the World
to understand that North Africa and North Africans are not arabs. We have to
stop this ethnocide in one way or another before it is too late.
I hope I have
clearly answered to your question, if you have any other do not hesitate to
contact me ! Bye 😉
Young Libyan amazigh girls attend an Amazigh festival in Tripoli on September 27, 2011. The Amazigh people, the indigenous people of North Africa, are asking for the recognition of their language and culture in any new constitution in Libya after decades of prohibition under the rule of leader Gaddafi