Thinking Tamazgha

Tamazight (‘Berber’) revival has many aspects (cultural, democratic, feminist, linguistic, political, religious etc.) and so this process needs to be well-planned in forming a Maghreb Union of Tamazgha as leading towards the establishment of a unified and independent federal Tamazgha.

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Surviving Tamazight linguistic regions of North Africa. (Image by Tussna on Wikicommons)

Three languages are natively spoken in much of the Tamazgha (Maghreb) region of North Africa, these are Tamazight (“Berber”), the major Semitic North Arabian language of Dariyyah (Darija) as well as the prestige language of French ever since the French colonial period. Tamazight remains vibrant in a number of geographic regions in also being prominently spoken in major Dariyyah-language cities of Morocco and Algeria. Arabic is learned in school and used in broadcasting and text media in most of Tamazgha (other than in the Amazigh regions of the Sahel, primarily in Mali and Niger) yet is relatively rarely spoken other than for international communication with Arabophone countries outside of Tamazgha. Mutual intelligibility is sometimes difficult between different varieties of Dariyyah and in those situations is French typically used in its stead. French as a language of prestige remains spoken by children in the streets of many cities in Francophone regions of Tamazgha, meaning primarily excepting Libya which was once an Italian colony and was therefore never part of the Francophonie in Tamazgha. The position and use of French has however retreated in past decades under pressure from organized mass Islamization activities by various front organizations of the global Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement.

The position of Tamazight has increasingly improved in both Morocco and Algeria where Tamazight has been recognized as an official language and a national language respectively. Moroccan school children have been required to learn to become literate in Tamazight along with Arabic for over a decade now. While these improvements are welcome indeed needs there be fully bilingual pre-academic education in Tamazight and Dariyyah throughout Tamazgha. There is no reason whatsoever why the dead liturgic language of Islam should be used for instruction in schools rather than the ethnically Amazigh languages of Tamazight and Dariyyah. There has never been a significant Arabian population in Tamazgha and Dariyyah is anything but a dialect of the dead Arabic and is rather a completely different, indeed very much living and vibrant natively spoken indigenous language of Tamazgha and the Imazighen (Amazigh people). While it is true that Dariyyah has increasingly historically supplanted Tamazight is Dariyyah itself indigenous to Tamazgha and so needs official bilingualism in Tamazight and Dariyyah be promoted throughout Tamazgha and any state promotion of the imposed dead religious language of Arabic such as in state-funded education or in state media will need to cease completely. Even so is Amiyyah now the native language of Arabia in having long supplanted the dead Arabic just as Romance languages supplanted the dead Latin. Arabic therefore needs to be abolished as the official language and entirely replaced by national bilingualism with Tamazight and Dariyyah as the two official languages.

A Maghreb Union of Tamazgha needs to be formed as headed by the Morocco’s head of state. Initially should this be an organization of regional cooperation but should be rapidly deepened through regional integration within Tamazgha. The Union of Tamazgha should be founded by Algeria, Libya, Mauretania, Morocco and Tunisia with observer status for the West Sahara Polisario movement. While initially a regional organization of cooperation of its members states need a new federal structure be formed in creating federal states as based on economic viability and so colonial borders will need to be discarded altogether. The future status of West Sahara within Tamazgha needs to be resolved within the context of the federalization of the Union of Tamazgha as based on creating economically viable federal subjects. Democratic borders will in the future allow Amazigh regions outside of the Union to join Tamazgha as well, including the Siwa region in Egypt, Sahel Tuareg regions and indeed if their human population so desires the Guanche Islands, usually known as the “Canary Islands” whose population is of mixed Amazigh/Spanish historical and genetic origin. The indigenous Guanche were Imazighen although their cultural heritage was destroyed by Spanish colonialism.

It is vitally important that all political restrictions end on pro-democratic Amazigh political movements in Tamazgha as the pro-democratic Amazigh movement is essential indeed for successful liberalization/democratization as leading to the establishment of open society and liberal democracy in Tamazgha. Also, any attempts on the part of part of elements within national administrations to create divisions between Tamazight-speakers and Dariyyah-speakers (“divide and rule”) need to end as well.

The Amazigh people practiced its own form of Median Judaism in parallel with enforced Christianity after which coercive Islamization ensued and so Median Judaism survived in folk culture and syncretic Sufism. Median Judaism was founded by the population of the northern Kingdom of Israel as exiled by Assyria; later survived within the new religion of Zoroastrianism and spread worldwide by means of Median Kohanim (“Magi” Hebrew Maggid) who traversed the world in trade and syncretically merged with pre-existing religious traditions worldwide and hence the still major presence worldwide of kohanite hereditary priests; including in China, Korea and Japan. Sayyids (persons claiming ancestry from mythological Ali) are largely usually descended from Islamized Levites.

The openly Jewish Amazigh Queen Kahina (probably a bat Kohen, a daughter of a Kohen) offered significant military resistance in 695-700 to the military conquest by Arabian religious imperialism in her queendom as centered in the Amazigh Aures Mountains in what is now western Algeria. These were not rabbinic Jews but rather adherents of indigenous Amazigh Median Judaism and identification with Israel and the Jewish people is even today widespread in Tamazight-speaking regions of Tamazgha. Jewish archaeological finds are almost always suppressed and hidden away in countries of Islamdom and so de-classifying and re-contextualizing Jewish archaeological finds will help reconstruct the history of Median Judaism in Tamazgha.

Amazigh Median Judaism as the indigenous religion of the Imazighen needs to be reconstructed and colonized Amazigh heritage restored to the people of Tamazight by means of local communal reversions of tribes and clans throughout Tamazgha. This process needs to be spearheaded by tribal/clan leaders with agreement from their people. There are two essential aspects to the indigenous reconstitution of Median Judaism in Tamazgha, one is reconstructing Amazigh Median Judaism and the other is feminist return to the gynocentric Sumerian origins of Median/Rabbinic Judaism in ending religious patriarchy and reestablishing Inanna Temples of Love for people of all genders as indeed originally established in ancient Sumer.

Large populations in Tamazgha and particularly in Morocco have retained the Tamazight language despite the social terror of coercive Arabian religious imperialism and so the decolonization of Tamazgha involves cultural, feminist, linguistic and religious aspects in rolling back the oppression of religious imperialism in re-appropriating the colonized heritage of the Imazighen. Let’s be clear that the Dariyyah language although a Semitic language is indeed an indigenous language of the Amazigh people along with the indigenous Tamazight language and so restoring Tamazight to all is definitely not about supplanting Dariyyah with Tamazight but rather about promoting Tamazight-Dariyyah bilingualism throughout Tamazgha.

Independent, unified Tamazgha will become a large and indeed highly economically viable state, provide regional stability in helping reestablish regional security by vanquishing religious imperialism by means of Rojava-style feminist revolution and indigenous Para-Jewish revival. Phasing out religious imperialism is essential to democratization/liberalization in the broader Middle East and the establishment of the Union of Tamazgha is itself vitally important to the eventual establishment of open society and liberal democracy in North Africa.