"They belong to a powerful, formidable, brave
and numerous people; a true people like so many others the world has seen
- like the Arabs, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.
The men who belong to this family of peoples have inhabited the Maghreb
since the beginning."
Ibn Khaldun, 8th century Tunisian historian.
had a particularly interesting role to play in the Maghreb. They alternately
resisted and accepted new beliefs and political regimes, and yet remained
ethnically a coherent group. They are found as far south as northern Nigeria
and as far north as Morocco. They range in colour from dark to fair.
Some Berbers resisted the rules and regulations of Islam; many more accepted
it, while others took on the role of reformers. Some Berbers became Christians,
but evolved their own austere and uncompromising Donatist doctrine. This
put them in direct conflict with the Church in Alexandria, which regarded
them as heretics.
King of Numidia, defeated by Romans
Priestess in the 7th century. Fought
the Arabs, while prophesying their eventual victory.
|St. Augustine of Hippo
Saint and evangelist.
14th century traveler, writer and historian.
|Abd el Krim
1882 -1963 nationalist, chief of the Rifains Berber people of Morocco, fought Spanish.
Musician and Berber activist killed 1998.
to a Berber grinding song, recorded in Morocco
Many Berbers became the mainstay of the Arab armies, indispensable for their
riding and fighting skills. Berbers were at the centre of the Almoravid
movement, which began with the piety of one man, the scholar and holy man,
Abdallah Ibn Yasin. The Berbers maintained their historical role of being
independently minded and tenacious fighters right into the twentieth century.
From their retreat in the High Atlas, they resisted the French and Spanish
attempts at colonisation successfully, until 1933.
to The Berbers Of North Africa, the third programme in the BBC landmark radio series
The Story of Africa, presented by Hugh Quarshie