The cultural story of the Desert Berbers

They speak the Berber language from the Afroasiatic language family. The source of the name “Berbers” is not certain. Still, many believe it originated from the Romans and was a generic name given to numerous heterogeneous ethnic groups that shared similar traditions, belief systems and culture.

For many centuries the Berbers settled on the coast of North Africa, from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean. But over time, they began to be gradually displaced by a long parade of invaders, many of whom had a substantial impact on the culture of the Berber people.

A lineup of invaders, from the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Byzantines to the Arabs, French, and Spanish, have all influenced the culture of the Berbers to one degree or the other.

The Berbers then began to expand into the Sahara regions of Africa, displacing many of the older inhabitants and establishing themselves. They were mainly assimilated into the Arab culture and Islamized, particularly after the incursion of the Banu Hilal in the 11th century AD.

Two significant Berber dynasties were well known and are worthy of mention; The Almoravids in the 11th Century and The Almohads in the 12th century.

These were formidable Muslim empires that were well-known and respected at the peak of their existence. The Almoravids were among the notable groups spreading Islam in West Africa.

In present-day North Africa, there is a population of about 70 million Berbers, most of whom can be found in Algeria and Morocco. They are a thriving people, rich with culture and long-standing historical existence.

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