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Cultural Traces Around the World

The Amazigh - A Celebration of Kinship and Culture

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The Amazigh people have a rich history and are considered to be the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa. Their name, Amazigh, means free people and the plural form is Imazighen. Ancient Egyptians first made reference to the Amazigh people in 3,000 BC using the name Temehu.

The Amazigh flag was created in 1997 by the Amazigh Congress. While the flag itself is a symbol of unity and cultural continuance, each color of the flag is symbolic of their land and values. It is said that the blue represents the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. The green color symbolizes the traditional Tamazgha homeland, and the yellow represents the desert. The red symbol, Yaz, symbolizes a free man.

The traditional architecture of the Amazigh is unique and eye-catching, and many people may have seen it from movies. For example, the village of Aït Ben-Haddou, in Morocco is an iconic landmark that has been featured in various films including The Jewel of the Nile, Sodom and Gomorrah, Prince of Persia, Gladiator and Lawrence of Arabia.

Early Imazighen was thought to have been animists. They believed that everything was connected and that living things such as animal-people and plants had a soul and spirit. The Imazighen have approximately 45 different tribal groups that have varying cultural customs and beliefs. Traditionally, societies have been matriarchal and valued women’s leadership and wisdom. Females held important roles within the tribe.

Amazigh music has continued for thousands of years and has a significant place within religious gatherings, marriage ceremonies and festivals. The late Mohamed Rouicha is a famous Amazigh singer and musician from Morocco. Another celebrated Amazigh singer is Fatima Tabaamrant. Her songs are performed in Tamazight, and within her film clips, she can be seen adorned with beautiful clothing designed by Amazigh designers.

In 2011, Tamazight was declared to be one of the official languages of Morocco, while Algeria formally recognized Tamazight as an official language in 2016.

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