Berbers of Morocco

The history of the Berbers of North Africa is very vast and very rich. It is also an origin which, to this day, remains unknown, thus, the origin of the Berber people remains still and well uncertain. The culture of the Berber people in Morocco and all its Mediterranean, African, Oriental, European or international influences, is particularly distinguished in the Kingdom by:

  • An indestructible link to the land,
  • A strong relationship to the sacred,
  • Great conviviality and warm hospitality,
  • Great sense of community…

The name of “Berber”, comes from the Greek word “Barbaros” which indicated a foreign person in the sense that, this one did not speak the Greek language… It is the Romans who gave the name of Berber to this people with share: the Berber people. However, the Berber people prefer the name of “Amazigh” which means “Free Man”.

The first ancestors of the Berbers would have come from the east of Egypt, but as stated above, the true origin of the Berber people has never been proven by historians…In reality, the term “Berber” would refer to different heterogeneous ethnic groups that have many similar practices, in terms of culture, politics and economy. One thing is certain, many ancient texts of antiquity, Greek texts, Phoenician texts and Roman texts attest to the existence of the Berber people.

Read also: Asilah: 10 best things to see and do

The Berbers and the great Moroccan Berber dynasties

There is still no irrefutable proof to affirm it, but until now, it is true that the Berbers are considered the first occupants of North Africa.

With the arrival of the Phoenicians at the site of Carthage, passing through the kingdom of Numidia which later became a province of Rome, the Berber people described, much later, by the Arabs, demonstrates a people apart, very proud and having resisted for a very long time to the different Roman and Arab powers.

It is between 740 and 1050 that the Arabs were pushed back from the Moroccan and Algerian territories and this, after the period known as the great revolt of the Berbers against the Arabs.

Concerning the Arabization of the Berber people, it is explained as follows:

  • First, in the 7th century with the Arab invasion.
  • Then, in the 11th century with the arrival of the Bedouins.
  • In the 12th century, the Moroccan dynasties contributed to the Arabization of the Maghreb and as a proof, capitals of Arabic language were created in Marrakech, Fez and Tlemcen.
  • Finally, between the 15th and 17th centuries, with the arrival of refugees from Andalusia…

The great Moroccan Berber dynasties that began in the eleventh century are:

  • Between 1055 and 1147, the Almoravids
  • Between 1147 and 1269, the Almohads
  • Between 1248 and 1465, the Merinids

As for religion, before Islam, we know that the Berber tribes, the different ethnic groups and the different regions had pagan beliefs with mysticism and were polytheistic.

Since the 700s A.D., the Berbers, mainly to escape the Arab invasions, took refuge in the heights, in the villages or mountains of the Rif or the Atlas. For many historians, whether Berbers or Arabs, and although this version is still uncertain as we pointed out in the introduction, for them, the Berbers would have a Canaanite ancestry. The Berber people would have come from North Africa after the victory of David over Goliath. If we rely on the hypothesis put forward by Moses of Koren and Procopius, the inhabitants of Canaan would have arrived in North Africa after the conquest of Canaan by Joshua, this version is confirmed by the Talmudic and older hypothesis which stipulates that the Canaanite people would have emigrated to Berberia after the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews… As for the Berbers of the Ketamas and Sanhadjas branches, historians of the ninth century claimed that these peoples had a Yemenite origin, but again, this is only a hypothesis.

Read also: Mohammedia: Best 10 things to do

Berber culture: the different tribes, ethnic groups or Berber regions

The Berbers, the free men in “Amazigh” are! They have always claimed and still claim their identity and their independent culture, so it is not possible to unify the Berber people of North Africa. The Tuaregs are also Berbers, they are nomads and they roam the desert. In the north of Algeria, the Kabyles, or the Zenagas or Moors of Mauritania are examples of Berber peoples who all pursue and claim their own identity, beliefs, perceptions…

In Morocco, Berbers represent about 65% of the population and yet the recognition of the Berber language as an official language in the constitution dates from 2011. Thus, the whole Berber culture is gaining recognition in Morocco, and the Berber flag, composed of three horizontal bands representing the sea with blue, green for the mountains and yellow for the desert, with the red of Amazigh blood, a free man moves on the three colored bands, is now visible in the kingdom, as well as the language called Tifinagh is also and again its appearance on the signs including indications

This free man is omnipresent in the Berber culture. On the flag, and for the Berber sign in general, it is schematized as three branches to symbolize the earth, the language and the man. Originally this symbol is the letter Z which is pronounced Yaz. It is during the first Amazigh congress in Paris which took place in 1998 that this Berber flag was adopted.

The Berbers’ flag

Like all the countries of the world, the Amazigh people have a flag in rectangular form, divided into three parts of different colors: blue, green, and yellow, centered by a letter of tifinagh: AZA, in red.
So what explanation can we give to this Amazigh flag? And what is the feeling integrated in its content? Here is a scientific approach to clarify and avoid doubt about our own flag.

First of all, the Amazigh flag is an emblem, which signifies and qualifies the Amazigh people the original people of North Africa (Tamazgha) and distinguishes it from other indigenous peoples of the world.

Secondly, before starting the explanation of the content of the Amazigh flag, it is necessary to point out that this flag presents one of the undesirable and rejectable things by the Arabist regimes that rule in North Africa, the Moroccan system is among them, because the Moroccan Arabist regime considers the wearing of the Amazigh flag as a humiliation for the ”sacred” symbols of the country, so it is something not admirable since it touches the deep principles of the state!

The Berbers flag in general whatever it is designates and reflects the compatibility of the emblem with the characteristics of the people concerned. The same thing the Amazigh flag means and explains the characteristics of our Amazigh people, that’s where it inspires its legitimacy.

The Amazigh flag from the first vision appears multicolored, this characteristic designates the diversity of the Amazigh traditions on the one hand, because they present a richness of our cultural heritage, identity and language. On the other hand it shows the diversity of the product of the Amazigh spirit, which constitutes an inexhaustible source of ideas, whose goal is to arrive at desirable human principles that can ensure an open life. On the other hand, the unification of thought that will harm humanity (racism) has been proven by history and reason.

Amazigh flag of Berbers

Now let’s discover the Berbers’ flag color meaning:


The color at the top of the flag, it is the color of the sky and the sea. The sky is a wider space, the sea is a wider place, because the dimensions of the first one cannot be delimited as the impossibility concerning the calculation of the volume of the water in the sea. Also, more clearly the Amazigh spirit since the antiquity until today is an open spirit, bloomed what gave birth to a rich intellectual product in different domains then we cannot limit neither the beginning nor the end of the Amazigh thought it is something of continuity since the spirit like all the signal is an inexhaustible source of thought. The Amazigh people are a miracle people, why? Simply its opening on several civilizations that it confronted from the Finicians, Romans, Vandals, Bizantine …. Even if the incidences and the sufferings foreseen, the Amazigh people has kept its coherence and its continuity also it has assured the protection of its heritage.


Intermediary, color related to nature, the greenness of the valleys, of the land of North Africa, it is also its fertility and the activity of agriculture as a result of the suitable climatic conditions: This is the essential point and the precise goal of the invasions, since the first Arab military conquests were directed towards North Africa, because their land (aljazera alarabiya) knows periods of desertification and climate disturbance, generally dry.
Also, the Amazigh spirit is fertile, and walls as already seen at the beginning.


This is the color of the earth in general, here North Africa, the original geography of the Amazigh people: Tamazgha. The earth is as a low point, is a base that supports heavy weights, build the habitat, the earthen houses (Tt About in Tamazight) mixed with straw also the color yellow (alim), these traditional houses are warm in winter, cool in summer, this is not by chance. the yellow also symbolizes the light, it evokes the honey. Here is a proverb meaning: “He who will come to repel evil and establish good will eat honey and butter”. From where comes this honey and butter?
So, the earth presents the source of life, as already pointed out, food, sustainable habitat, then imazighen have an equation of equality, the earth equals life. Logically the one who touches the earth touches directly the life, Imazighen have mounted that during their resistance against all colonizers aiming to tear them the earth, the life, it is the sacrifice with all to keep the earth, to save the life, as what said Mohamd Ban Abdlkrim Khttabi: to die to ensure the protection of all parts of our earth.
So, the earth represents our roots. Do you have your feet on the ground? It is also the relationship to our mother and our roots.

The letter (z):

AZA, like all languages, Tamazight has these alphabets, Aza is the best known because it is among the first characters discovered in the rock engravings encountered (caves) according to archaeologists.
So, the presence of alphabet in the flag means that the Berbers have their original language: Tamazight, language that ensures communication, reception, and transmission of ideas between the Amazigh people, it is the daily language of all sides.

The red color of Aza is the color of blood, means the brotherhood of the Imazighen and their solidarities between them and towards the other according to the principles of humanism, the red color of the blood and the flame represents the symbols of the fire but of a devastating fire, it is sign of anger. When a person is anemic, he lacks red blood cells and therefore feels more tired, the Amazigh blood never accepts neither humiliation, nor give up, because imazighen have shown their strength to liberate their land, to wrest their rights of existence, identity, culture, language.

The combination of the explanation of the components and content of the Berber flag helps us easily to understand the Amazigh people without any opacity or misinformation, only to grant the natural freedom to our gray matter to assimilate the correct meaning of the relationship: Berbers flag and Amazigh people.

The Berber language in Morocco: Tamazight

The Berber alphabet is the Tifinagh, a universal alphabet that dates from the sixth century BC. Thanks to the King of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, since 2011, the Amazigh language is again taught in schools.
In addition, the new constitution of Morocco of the same year 2011, recognizes the Berber as the second language of the Kingdom.

The Berber alphabet is the Tifinagh, a universal alphabet that dates from the sixth century BC. Thanks to the King of Morocco, His Majesty King Mohammed VI, since 2011, the Amazigh language is again taught in schools.
In addition, the new constitution of Morocco of the same year 2011, recognizes the Berber as the second language of the Kingdom.

In terms of Berber dialects, Morocco has three main dialects:

  • Tarifite which is mainly used in the North, from Tangier to Nador, climbing the Rif mountain range.
  • Tachilhite which is spoken in the South-West from Essaouira to Sidi Ifni, in the Western Atlas, through the n’Tichka pass, it is the language of the Chleuh Berbers
  • Tamazight is the most widespread dialect, it is known throughout Morocco and even in the desert.

Tachelhit, by number is the most important Berber language in Morocco, then and beyond, it is especially the Tamazight era of central Morocco that remains the most common dialect. These dialects, although different, have similarities. In Morocco, it is not uncommon for people to know Berber, Darija which is a language specific to Morocco, classical Arabic, and very often, Moroccans speak foreign languages in addition, French, English, Spanish…

The Berber language “Tamazight” is integrated in about thirty languages and a hundred dialects. The Berbers have had their own writing system for at least 2500 years, which is called Libyan-Berber, or Tifinagh. Of course, it must be said that many Amazigh women can neither read nor write Moroccan Arabic, nor do they master the Amazigh alphabet. However, they have always developed different means of communication, including the famous Berber symbolic signs that can be found on many works of craftsmanship, such as weaving, pottery, interior or exterior wall decorations, tattoos, jewelry, traditional clothing and also through Berber songs and music…

At the time, they had this kind of coded language, signs that mainly told their intimacy and this was particularly the case for young girls who left their village of origin after their marriage and then expressed themselves through the weavings that they sent to their mother who could decipher the message. Concerning the different tribes, the region of the Draa Valley has the Berber Drawa, the north-eastern Moroccan Rif has the Dades, in Morocco, those who are called Kabyle, a term that once designated all Berbers, now located in Morocco, the inhabitants of the mountains Al – Quabail. In the western High Atlas there are the Sousis. They are called the Rifans, the Chleuhs, the Kabyle or the Tuaregs.

Morocco has about 40% of Berber speakers.

For the Moroccan tribes, in general, we distinguish two categories which are divided in the following way:

  • The tribes that are of Berber origin
  • Tribes of Arab origin

The tribes of Berber origin are the Batre tribes namely the Drissas, the Adrassas, the Louatas, the Nfzaouas and the Nfousas; then the Branes tribes with the Azdajas, the Aourabas, the Ourdughas, the Ketamas, the Masmoudas, the Sanhajas and the Aguissas. Tribes of Arab origin include the Athbedjs, the Jashames, the Riyahs and the Zughbas. Bedouin tribes such as the Bani Hilal in the 10th century moved from Arabia to Egypt.

In the south-east of Morocco, there are the tribes of Aït Hadiddou, Aït Morghad, Aït Izdeg, Aït Atta, Aït Khabache, in the Middle Atlas, there are the tribes of Aït Seghrouchen, Aït Waraïn, Marmoucha, Aït Alaham, Aït Youb and Aït Morghi, but also the Zaïanes or Zayanes, in Berber “Aẓayyi” in the singular and “Iẓayyan” in the plural, they are the Aït Oumalou of Morocco (it is advisable to specify because there is also a tribe of the same name in Algeria). The Chleuhs “Ichelḥiyen” in Berber, are located in the regions of the High Atlas, Anti-Atlas and the Souss valley, up to Guelmim at the gates of the Sahara. Settled in the region of Sidi Kacem there is the Berber tribe Banu Hilal, in the Gharb and southeast of Fez. As for the Cherarda, they descend from Arab sub-clans of the Sahara, Tafilalet or Drâa.

The Berber tribes in Morocco are so numerous that it is difficult to name them all…

The Berber culture shines in the country

As far as Berbers’ culture and traditions are concerned, they have always remained very present in Morocco, as can be seen during very special events such as weddings, births, circumcisions, religious festivals, but also in everyday life. The cities of the south have women who still wear traditional clothes, the make-up of women and the henna or saffron are also traditions that persist.
The traditional songs and all the Moroccan handicrafts show us the diversity that exists for this Berber culture and its traditions. Berber handicrafts hold an important place in the daily life of the Berbers, so pottery, wool weaving, metal and silver work offers magnificent Berber jewelry, sublime wool carpets such as the Beni Ouarain among others, and many other objects that showcase ancestral know-how and that also allow many families to live. Fair trade is particularly important to us in a country where the wealth of the heart is much greater than the wealth of the wallets, but there, in Morocco, we know that it is always: “Inch’Allah”!

The Berber culture deserves a lot of interest, even if some mysteries persist, it is a culture which makes use of ancestral know-how, and, in Morocco, simplicity, human warmth, conviviality, are so many qualities which distinguish this population that you will have great pleasure to meet… With Berbers, it is always a reciprocal exchange, it remains moments which are filled with emotions, moments which remain forever engraved!

Welcome to the Berber land in Morocco, the country of free men and women from whom you will learn a lot!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>