The Berbers are a 9000 year old ethnic group indigenous to North of Africa, whose customs and traditions still continue today. The name Berber derives from Greek bárbaros, βάρβαρος, however they call themselves Amazigh which means ‘The Free People’ or or ‘noble men’. Their language and their culture have outlived many other ancient civilisations such as the Ancient Greek, the Latin, Phoenician and even the Egyptian. The Maghreb region in northwestern Africa is believed to have been inhabited by Berbers from at least 10,000 BC. They live in tribal communities, and their roots reach deep into Morroco’s history as well as the neighbouring countries. They are known for their very strong connection with the land, for having a very united sense of community, and for having a very specific (and beautiful) relationship with spirituality.
Today, most Berber people live mainly in Libya, Algeria, and Morocco. However, apart from these broad and simple facts, there is not much that is really known about who they are and what they believe in. They converted to Islamism during the Arab conquests, however they still remain true to their own culture and their own beliefs, living in the mountains, in small communities and remaining completely independent from the modern world. They are isolated, and as their name claims, free: they need little and create themselves everything that they need. Through their art and their creations it is clear that they are true craftsmen, developing and nurturing their silver techniques and the making of intricate carpets in beautiful ways. Even their clothing becomes a means of expression of their own spirit: wild, free and beautiful.
They certainly seem to have a lot to teach us: living in perfect sync and balance with nature, being kind and good to the world, creating everything we need, being independent from everything and everyone, and lastly, making art to en-soul our own bodies. I was sort of sad that I didn’t have time to go see them in the Atlas mountains, where some of them now live. In another trip, it will definitely be a priority.