They shouted at us.
Every single person who seemed to be trying to sell us some form of service or product claimed they were an original Berber from the Atlas Mountains.
Before we came to Morocco we had never even heard of a Berber.
Upon leaving Morocco, we’re now pretty clued up!
So, what is a Berber? Apart from a woman who charges a lot of money for Henna!
Firstly, they don’t actually like being referred to Berbers – Shocking I know! Especially considering how many times a day you hear it echoing around you! Berber is a nickname to them, they prefer to call themselves Amazighs. Amazigh translates to ‘Free People’. They were the original Nomads!
They are one of the oldest cultures in the world, their origin is thought to be as old as 10,000 BC.
Berbers are thought to have originated from lots of different back grounds but collated together in North Africa – Especially the Atlas Mountains, hence why there is such a strong presence in Morocco. Most of the 27 million Moroccans are thought to be Berbers. Over the years as Africa had been taken over by different cultures and religions, the Berbers were quite often used as test bait for wars and exploring. Different reigning forces would send them on missions before they undertook them themselves. However, throughout all of their takeovers and sieges, they have managed to hold on to their original language which was originally verbal but has become hand written in the last 2500 years or so.
Berbers are traditionally lighter skinned and prior to their Islamic takeover in the 9th and 10th century, they were predominantly Jewish and Christians.
Although Berbers typically live in the Atlas Mountains, they are more than capable of looking after themselves and running their own businesses. Typically, they are farmers, mule drivers, Argan producers or craft makers. If you get the chance to look at their jewellery, rugs and other crafts, which if you visit Morocco you more than likely will, you will see how beautifully intricate they are and appreciate the skills they have.
The Berber flag symbolises the ‘Free Man’ which is also what Amazigh translates to.
The three colours symbolize the three origins of the Berbers of Morocco:
- Blue – the Berbers who live by the sea
- Green – the Berbers from the mountains: the Rif and the Atlas
- Yellow – the Berbers who came from the desert
There are many famous people who are Berbers, including;
- Zinadine Zidane
- Red One (Lady GaGa’s music producer)
- French Montanna (Musician)
- Hilary Clintons Grandfather
The Berbers are incredibly interesting people with an amazing history of culture behind them. Our guide who took us to the Atlas Mountains managed tell us a lot about this interesting culture. If given the opportunity I would highly recommend a trip to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains.