By Dr. Monis Bakhadhara, University of Tlemcen, Algeria
From the high mountains of Jarjarah, the plateaus of Sétif and the Biskra valley to the rocky mountains of Tasli, which are inhabited by the blue people known as the Touareg, there are vibrant villages and groups of people who live close to nature. These Amazigh villages, (in Algeria, the people are known as ‘Al Qaba’el’), have a strong relationship with nature, one which has been enhanced over time.
This strong relationship is evident in every detail of the tribe’s daily life, from their dialogue and clothing to their ways of preparing food and hosting parties, tending animals, building houses and weaving wool.
These tribes are distinctive and unique among the peoples of the Mediterranean. Their cultural history is stronger than historical events might suggest. These tribes continued to live naturally; their crafts and adornments make their love for life very apparent.
Despite the active role the Amazigh have played in shaping the history of the peoples of the region for the past three thousand years, Amazigh people did not record their history. According to the Moroccan scholar Mohammad Shafiq, these tribes were accustomed to forgetting the past, because they believed that focusing on the past would lead to nothing but pride. Formal history can only be recorded in well-organised societies, because proper scientific research requires that the researchers get information from authorities.
The Amazigh culture was voluntarily closed to outsiders. The Amazigh contributed significantly to the emergence of the great civilisations and cultures on the Mediterranean Coast in the middle of first millennium BC.
Their culture was closed to outsiders due to their predominantly Bedouin lifestyle. In addition, no religious books have been written in their language. In the early fourth century after Hijra, Hamim Al-Ghamari tried to write the Qur'an in the language of his forefathers, as did Salih bin Tarif Al-Barghawati Al-Mahmudi in the second century after Hijra.
The Amazigh character has been shaped by two major forces: nature, with its rich elements; and heritage.
The Amazighs’ refusal to build fortresses and castles or to make weapons proves that they were reluctant to stay in one place and defend borders. While the Pharaohs wanted to live on forever in their tombs and buildings, the Amazigh were not as concerned with being remembered.