The Berbers

The Berbers, known as the Imazighen (‘free people’) are the indigenous people of North Africa and beyond. Interestingly the roots of the Toureg (‘pirates’) were also Imazighen and it was the Toureg who kept alive the symbolic alphabet known as Tifinagh. The Imazighen (singular = Amazigh) once ruled over kingdoms in the region but were conquered by the Romans and subsequently the Arabs in the seventh century.

Although mostly Muslim, Moroccan Berbers retain their ancient customs and festivals especially in rural areas, and many speak a dialect known as Tamazight that is now officially recognised as a language. As a result Tifinagh is once again taught in some schools.

Outside of the cities, in and around their small villages, the Berbers have an agricultural lifestyle – keeping sheep and goats and growing crops e.g. mint, cereals, vegetables etc.