Berbers: The Empire Without Borders

map of the distribution of the berber tribes in north africa

The Berbers and the Bushmen are among the oldest people on earth.


Berber Versus Mazigh & Etymology of Imazighen

The perplexed term “Berber” is shrouded with mystery just as the Berbers themselves. Regardless of whether some people like or dislike the use of the term 'Berber' the name had entered the international vocabulary and therefore it will be used here when writing in English. The matriarchal name “Tamazight”, albeit more popular in its recent masculine and patriarchal form Amazigh, is gradually becoming known to the outside world.

This is not to say there is anything wrong with using the term Berber, just because it was mistakenly associated with Greek barbarous and the negative connotation it conveys. There is no doubt that the etymology of the name ‘Berber’ was altogether misunderstood, and it never meant ‘barbaric’ or ‘savage’ simply because the Romans used it to describe the Ancient Egyptians whom we all know were far more advanced and civilised than both the Romans and the Greeks. In fact, the term was used by the Ancient Egyptians and the Berbers long before the Greeks.

Generally speaking the term “Berbers” was used by foreigners (or aliens some would say) to describe the native inhabitants of North Africa, while the Berbers call themselves Imazighen; the etymology of which, likewise “Berber”, has neither etymological basis nor historical foundation, as it was merely a superstitious conjuncture that somehow gained widespread popularity amongst both Berberists and European scholars, probably after it was introduced to them by the Berber Leo Africanus, without questioning its authority or explaining how it came to have this bizarre etymology: “Freemen”.

Which part in the term “Imazighen” that says ‘free’ and which part that means ‘men’ remain to be explained. The only etymology that can be concluded so far is ‘noble’, as in Tamaheqt majegh (‘noble’). Noble they are, no doubt; but free is far from true. Freedom starts in the mind, then magically manifests in the real world.

Imazighen is the plural form of the masculine singular Amazigh or Mazigh, while “Timazighin” is the plural form of the feminine singular Tamazight. This means that the recent use of the term 'Amazigh' to describe a group of people (as in the Amazigh of Libya) is incorrect because the term is singular; and therefore the correct form to use is the plural form: the Imazighen of Libya.

The popular and masculine form used almost world-wide, namely “Amazigh Language”, does not exist; violates the sacred Tamazight; and seemingly is heading towards threatening the foundation on which it was based — the matriarchal nature of the Berber society. Tamazight by itself means exactly that: ‘Berber language’. For some unknown reason there seems to be the alien tendency to abandon the original matriarchal form Tamazight and ultimately all its associated forms!

Tamazgha”, meaning the ‘land of the Imazighen’ (or North Africa), was also invented by activists to describe what the Berbers have always prescribed as Thamorth, (‘land, town, country’). Terms like ‘Amazighity’ (mixing the English suffix -ty with Berber a-Mazigh-) and ‘Imazighenautes’ (the Berber geeks of the internet) give the amusing impression that things are getting complicated.

Some might say this should not pose a threat, so long as modernisation is applied to illuminate (rather than integrate then eliminate). But nature has already taken care of this process in a natural way. TEK (‘Traditional Environmental Knowledge’) is continuously modernising all aspects of human existence in one complete system we know as evolution — with the free ‘will’ to steer one's destiny.

This extensive TEK knowledge of indigenous People's heritage and accumulative wisdom, which modern scientists now seek for new insights, insures cultural continuation and inspires new inventions of material types, smart tools and even new human societies altogether; encompassing all aspects of human existence. Yet despotic democracies, in contrast, emphasise only one single aspect on the expense of all other aspects including the desecration of nature, policing indigenous principles, impoverishing people, and even feeding the earth with toxic waste. This transitional expression will not succeed in evolutionary terms because it violates long-range perspective with which nature sees her future offspring thriving as ever!

The Berbers' mentality, their cheerful attitude to life, their customary egalitarian justice and tribal council of the elders (of both female and male transparent members of society who lead by example), and all the good, unique elements that distinguish Tamazight society from the ‘warring’ ideals thriving in neighbouring and far distant countries may all become affected by, if not infected with, the new cultureless direction towards which the Berber society may one day find itself led to –> something the Imazighen of today ought to be concerned-with right now, rather than shortsightedly endure in decades to come. If the Berbers lose their unique sense of identity, as a Berber, one may no longer wish to remain a Berber, simply because there will be none in essence.

To take away from indigenous people their pride, then deprive them of the values at the heart of their existence, rather than preserve their priceless world heritage, goes against all human ideals allegedly reverberating across the moral world. The Berber Tuareg of the Sahara were also brought under the hammer in recent decades when they were forced to perform some patriarchal con-sessions to abandon a number of Tamazight matriarchal institutions including the “sacred matrilineal naming system”.

If the only tool you have is a hammer, I guess every problem has to look like a nail.”



number of berbers

Estimated number of Berbers in North Africa: 38 million


Geographic Distribution of The Berbers

The conglomerate tribes known under the generic term of Berbers or Imazighen are the indigenous inhabitants of North Africa since time immemorial; currently distributed across a wide extent of country including Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

In spite of the fact that extant linguistic evidence proves the Berber's racial unity, from the Mediterranean to the Sudan and from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean, many political and otherwise regimes still perceive Berber speech as a threat to their (presumed) national unity — albeit in conflict with the lost unity of the aforementioned conquered countries: The Berber Empire Without Borders.

The majority of Berbers (in terms of percentage) are found in Morocco, followed by Algeria, Niger, Mali then Libya. The Tuareg tribes of the Sahara are also Berbers, whose language Tamasheght is considered the least corrupted out of all Berber languages — due to their geographical isolation from the turbulent north: always [and always] coveted by various invaders. Northern Mali was home for the largest concentration of Tuareg in the Sahara until recently — just before they were forced to flee their homeland by European invaders.

The Tuareg themselves reckon the year 1894 the year the French first seized their beloved Azawad — now in tatters. After a long history of resistance and rebellions, totally ignored by the civilised world, the Tuareg were “lured” into liberating their occupied homeland Azawad in 2012, only to be later hijacked by planted infiltrators to provide the catalyst for it to be destroyed in 2013 — and perhaps to lure Algeria too into conflict with its neighbours in the name of chaos.

The number of Berbers still in Tunisia is small, estimated at 110,000 people (around 1%), found mainly in the south of the country and in the island of Djerba including in Dwirat, Metmata, and Tataouine. In Mauritania only a small group of Berbers still speak Zenaga and Tamasheq. There is also a small population of Tuareg in Nigeria, speaking Tawallamat Tamajaq.

The current number of Berbers in Egypt is estimated at 30,000 people, mostly in Siwa and in the region of Beni Suef. However, in ancient times all Egypt west of the Nile was inhabited by Berbers, including the Delta and all the oases in the Libyan Desert. In pre-Dynastic Egypt the Berbers were the dominant population of Egypt (before its invasion by the Pharaohs) regardless of what fabricated history still says. In today's Arab Egypt the Siwans, like all other Berbers across the region, still are neglected by the ruling authority, where some Siwans say they were forced to adopt the Arab identity. Their ancient “gods” included the Berber God Amon, adopted by the Ancient Egyptians as Amen-Ra, by the Greeks as Zeus-Amon, and by the Phoenicians as Baal-Amon.


Berber Origins & Fake Genealogies

The Berbers' supposed Iberian, Cretan, Canaanite, or/and Yemenite origins are wholly unfounded, if not colonially impostored to divide and ruin, as anthropologists and historical linguists are increasingly pointing to the native nature of the Berbers. Regarding Ibn Khaldun's widely-quoted Berber ancestors, Olwen Brogan points out that his genealogies are “as artificial as are most similar genealogies”. While specific Oric Bates states that “The literary opinion generally current among the Arab writers acknowledged several lines of descent for the various groups of Berbers, each group being referred to an imaginary, and usually eponymous, ancestor.” 

The histories of al-Bakari and Ibn Qotaybah (who identified the Berbers with the vanquished Philistines and the giant Goliath) Ibn Khaldun calls a ‘mistake’. So are those genealogies tracing the Berbers to Yemen, H'imir or Ber-Bin-Qis, which according to the anonymous author of Mafakher Al-Barbar (‘The Boasts of the Berbers’) are false and exist only in the minds of ‘jahilite’ (1312 AD, p. 78).

In relation to the Berbers' Canaanite origin, who adopted the language of the conquered Hamites, myth has it both Phoenix and Cadmus were the sons of Agenor, the son of goddess ‘Libya’ by Poseidon, who left Egypt to settle in the land of Canaan; and thus one reads in Genesis (09: 22): “Ham [is] the father of Canaan” (not vice versa). Unfortunately, both sources are now deemed by science unfit to recorded history; while the science of linguistics does confirm Hamitic languages are much older than both Semitic and Indo-European languages.

It is probably because of these and similar other influences, like Oric Bates had said, “The Byzantine historian Procopius has, like Sallust, preserved a story of African origins which reflect this tendency on the part of the Libyans to relate their remote ancestry to Asia  Minor.” 

In fact Ibn Khaldun himself, nearly 700 years ago, made it clear that people “chose” to relate their origin to Semitic ancestors because Sam had five prophets when Ham had none. One can only wish prosperity for the “chosen ones”, and equally hope mercy and forgiveness for the “cursed” son of Ham — the “servant of servants”, Genesis says (09:25)!

In addition to the above genealogies, relating our biological origin to eponymous male-ancestors, “mitochondrial DNA” genes trace all modern humans to one female ancestor scientists called “African Eve”, or Mitochondrial Eve (mt-MRCA), who lived between 150,000 and 200,000 years ago, in, Africa smiley.

Speaking of male ancestors, human geneticists have also traced Y-chromosomal Adam (Y-MRCA) back to Africa — specifically to West, Northwest and Central Africa. The Y-MRCA is the patrilineal Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) from whom all living humans are descended. The identified chromosomes belonged to either haplogroup A1a (identified in two Moroccan Berbers, one Fulbe, and one Tuareg Berber from Niger) or A1b (identified in three Bakola pygmies from Cameroon and one Algerian Berber); and hence the Berbers and the Pygmies are among the oldest people on earth.


The Massacre of the Berber Guanches of the Canaries

The indigenous Guanche inhabitants of the Canary Islands (west of Morocco, in the Atlantic Ocean) were also Berbers right down to the 16th century, just before they were condemned to oblivion by barbarians from medieval Europe.

Probably the most disastrous event in Berber history in relation to European conquests is the terrible massacre of the Guanche tribes of the Canaries. Unimaginable catastrophe; effected in the name of piracy.

They were completely isolated from the outside world, living in peace and tranquillity, and reportedly had no contact with the outside world until Spanish conquerors broke-in to embark on their systematic genocide — a brutal job that took nearly 90 years of savage slaughter to complete.

Still worse, those ‘Berbers’ who hid in the sacred caves of the mountains were slowly hunted to extinction like poor animals; while the captured survivors were sold as “first-class slaves” in Europe's aristocratic markets.

Without learning much about them, or about their painful tragedy, the Guanches were forced not-only to give up their beloved pride, and see their women & children slaughtered before their eyes, but also were forced to vanish off the surface of the ‘earth’.

Imagine. Imagine what it would be like had they survived to-day! Imagine what it would be like today if the Berber Guanche civilisation remained so onto the present day; a rare treasure from our prehistoric past, where anthropologists say they did not even know about the “wheel” — the wooden wheel first invented by the Berber Garaments; the brakeless wheel that goes round an empty circle; the ouroboros wheel that eats itself to infinity; and yet more wheels to spin from the merciless “wheel of misfortune”, else known as the wheel of fortune to the chosen ones.

Unfortunately, in the case of the Spanish conquests of the sixteenth century”, notes Elsdon Best, “that nation appears never to have considered it a duty to hand down to posterity any detailed description of the singularly interesting races they had vanquished. As it was with the Guanches of the Canaries, the Aztecs of Mexico, and the Quichuas of Peru, so was it with the Chamorro of the Ladrones, and the Tagalo-Bisaya tribes of the Philippines” (Pre-Historic Civilization In The Philippines, Journal of The Polynesian Society, vol. 1,1892, p. 118).

Perplexed as it might seem, tragedy after another, the Berbers' destiny is fraught with pain and perpetual struggle against the destruction of their peaceful legacy — the untold saga of human's longest misery in history: the massacre of identity

Like the Arab war generals themselves had later said (in their wars against Queen Kahina) :– whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert

When Berber Hannibal crossed the Alps and besieged Rome, the Roman emperor fled to hide behind his city walls for 12 years — apparently afraid to give the Berber general a fair fight. When Hannibal was advised by his war generals to end the 12-year siege and burst through the city gates (as the Romans later did Carthage), he wisely reprimanded them that ‘women & children’ shall never be ‘collateral damage’. Commanding Hannibal declined to murder women and children because he was a man.

Hannibal even refused to be made ‘dead’, when he voluntarily declared the return of his soul to the lone stars; not because he was scared of death but because he was afraid to live a matricidal master.

No wonder a single glimpse of the Berber Gorgon's eyes instantly turns ‘man‘ to stone. The blood droplets that fell off her severed head were said to have infested the Sahara with ‘serpents’.


Medusa or gorgon's head

The berBer gorGon


Archaeological History & Evidence

The authors of “The Berbers (1996) came under sharp criticism by a number of scholars and activists for the poor picture they claim to be the first comprehensive guide to the Berbers in the English language. In their Introduction, M. Brett and E. Fentress state that, “No general book on the Berbers is available in English. One of the most unfortunate consequences of this is the total ignorance in both Great Britain and the United States of the existence of the Berbers. . . This book is intended as a step towards answering the question, and perhaps toward a modification of the idea that Mediterranean history can be divided between black Africans and white Europeans.”  

This sounds a good book, especially when its back cover carries the approval of the Journal of North African Studies (JNAS), and perhaps when the cover is black — with the title (‘The Berbers’) written in ‘white’. However, starting Berber history from 7000 BC is either a mistake or ‘somethingelse’. No doubt, ignorance could have played its role, as the authors say, but London is a great city for books about the Berbers and conceivably about any other culture in the world. So, what does that say?

Colour too still plays its usual part, where some Afrocentricists, Eurocentricists, Arayanists, and other exotic specialists are getting lost in the web, applying colour to the pagan gods of the ancient world. But the most devastating factor is nothing but ‘ persecution’ itself — going back not 42 years (as some now say) but centuries upon centuries, legally depriving the Berbers from expressing “themselves”.

Hence, it is about time the Berbers start writing their own history. It is about time the Berbers break away from this long period of darkness in which supremacists wrote like tyrants, and in which brutal dictators and democratic conquerors ruled like “brats”, barring free speech and the flow of information and hunting down what Gaddafi called “rats”.

Simply put, the amount of material available in libraries, especially London's wonderful British Library (in English and conceivably in any other language), would easily allow any ‘independent’ student to write a comprehensive Berber history going back not to 7000 BC but to the beginning of Afroasiatic language itself, and perhaps all the way back to the lost civilisations of the Sahara and beyond.

There are several studies and fossil remains from Casablanca, Cyrenaica, Ternifine and Rabat, documenting the existence of the indigenous Berbers (or/and their extinct ancestors) in North Africa for at least one million years (1,000,000), when the first wave of early humans began to leave Africa — presumably to explore the “prim-eval world”, then still infested with cannibals.

The Lower Pleistocene sites of Algerian Ain Hanech and Moroccan Casablanca have, long time ago, provided some of the earliest evidence for “human behaviour”, which arriving at a time when most archaeologists believed no human artifacts older than the Pleistocene can be found can only confirm tool-making humans had lived in North Africa in the Pliocene.

Among the sprung, flourished, and vanished cultures of North Africa are the Libyan Pre-Aurignacian culture (85,000 BC); the Libyan Dabba culture (40,000 BC); Aterian culture (40,000-20,000 BC); Ibero-maurusian culture (22,000 BC); the Eastern Oranian culture (15,000-9,000 BC); and the Mesolithic culture of Murzuk in southern Libya (10.000-6.000 BC).

The Garamantian civilisation was also one of the cultures involved in the Sahara's cultural proliferation. Rüdiger and Gabriele Lutz (1955) recall the cultures of Fezzan to have evolved over the past hundreds of thousands of years and vanished under adverse conditions.Stone tools of bygone eras are lying about in millions, from the relics of early and late Acheulian (up to 500.000 years), Levalloisian (100.000 years) and Mousterian (50.000 years).

The unique Haua Fteah Cave in Cyrenaica was previously documented by McBurney and others to preserve a continuous archaeological history in Libya from about 100,000 BC to the present — one continuous line of living entities in one single cave, the largest cave in the Mediterranean basin, and one of the largest caves in the (visible) world. This means that the cave was occupied by Libyans at about the same time African Eve left Africa to colonise the savage world.

Finally, in 2017 researchers at Jebel Irhoud (or Ighoud) in Morocco have discovered a third Homo sapiens skull which they dated to 315,000 years ago; pushing back our species' origin by 115,000 years —  that is 115,000 years older than other Homo sapiens remains discovered in east Africa.  This, according to one view, may explain the Dali skull (found in China), which is very similar to the Irhoud skull. The Dali skull's owner lived around 260,000 years ago; suggesting that Homo sapiens may have left Africa far earlier than previously thought. 


Berber Language

Scientists estimate that 50% of the 7,000 languages still spoken today will disappear by the year 2100. The main reasons for the language massacre are ‘oppression’ and ‘injustice’ (endangeredlanguages.com). If unprotected constitutionally a language may eventually die.

On average, one language goes extinct every week in this modern age (of technology and enlightenment), often due to democratic and dictatorial conquerors' open neglect. Berber language however is one of the oldest languages on the surface of the earth.

Berber, Arabic, Italian, French, and English are all widely used in North Africa, where most if not all educated Berbers are either bilingual or trilingual speakers. Berber languages of North Africa are classified as close relatives of Chadic and Ancient Egyptian in the Afroasiatic Phylum. The hopeless term Afro-Asiatic designates nothing to us, other than translate the ousted Hamito-Semitic label, where Hamitic was somehow replaced with “Afro”, and Semitic tweaked as “Asiatic” — even though both terms give the illusive impression that this family encompasses all African and Asian languages in one single family, when they do not.

And so it follows that studying Berber in isolation of Egyptian, Chadian, Omotic, and Cushitic languages is not necessary since one needs to approach the whole Family of Afroasiatic as one entity, not to prove whatever was meant to be proven, or whatever brothers are fighting for, but simply to venture deeper in time to understand its source. That source will tell us what we do not know, dear friends, or at least guide us in the right way. And even then, regardless of any amusing skin-colour theories or genetic interpretations, which ultimately regress us to our primal past — inescapably, it is the culture question that requires correct understanding and unperplexed interpretation.

Berber languages were also linked to Euskara, Asian Dravidian, Polynesian Maori, Japanese Ainu, American Zuni, Greek, Latin, and Germanic languages; while some linguists suggested placing Celtic, Welsh, and other Western European languages with Afroasiatic, rather than with IE. Thus, many linguists increasingly believe the ancient Mediterranean peoples were more closely-related than has been previously documented. Isolate Basque's Euskara is clearly related to Berber language and yet it was abruptly placed with the Na-Dene group. The geographic proximity of the two however stays stuck between the Pyrenees Alps and the Atlas like a mountain in the sky. The geographic route from the Atlas Mountain to Iberia, via the straits of Gibraltar, and on to Britain and Ireland speaks volumes by itself — without a single word.

No doubt, being the bridge between Africa, Europe, and Asia implies long, continual contact with various migrants, refugees and invaders — of all sorts and colours; but then these often take place both ways, and not only one way. Long time ago, Diakonoff wrote: “It is reasonable to suppose that the speakers of Proto-Semitic had separated from Proto-Berbero-Libyan some time during the Neolithicum (6th-5th millennium B.C.). . . The tribes speaking the Proto-Semitic language went north-eastward crossing the Nile valley (still unfit for settlement), and, passing onward over the Suez isthmus, spread throughout the Middle East . . . The Libyan-Guanche tribes went in the opposite direction up to the Atlantic coast and the Canaries; and possibly, over into the Pyrenaean Peninsula [24] . . . The Iberians, the ancient population of the Pyrenaean Peninsula . . . are sometimes believed to be linguistically related to the Berbero-Libyans, but the surviving Iberian texts make this hypothesis very plausible” (Afrasian Languages, Moscow 1988, pp. 32, 33).

The direction of influence in which some supremacists entertain the foreign origin of the Berbers can be dislodged, and replaced by a dual highway through which traffic still flows around the Mediterranean world to nurture culture — and genes too, Ridley adds. At times, it seems more like a roundabout, and at other times the traffic collides head on disaster. In the long run Europe's Ice Ages and the Sahara's droughts alternate back and forth, receding and proceeding according to Gaia's clock, reshuffling population flow, and slowly rocking the cradle of civilisation to sleep.

Long before the Romans appeared across the pages of history (to eventually expel most native European languages to extinction and impose Latin instead), Cretan, Sumerian, and other extinct Mediterranean languages and cultures were also linked to Berber. Applying the throttle to venture deeper into the “long range” linguists came to connect all these languages with other language families from around the world, like Nostratic and other global superfamilies, comprising yet-much-bigger boundaries.

Sending the throttle to maximum linguists have come full circle, reversing the trend by uniting the chaotic classification of languages into one Mother Language — just as geneticists came to trace all modern humans to one African Mother they named African Eve. Pessimists say this will never be possible; while optimists as ever see only promising light. (For more on protolanguage, Google global etymology and Ruhlen.)

To make premature conclusions about a civilisation that is hardly documented, let alone understood, where hundreds of thousands of prehistoric art sites in the Sahara still are awaiting discovery and analysis, and where countless ancient cities still buried beneath the sand (seen recently only by satellites) can only fuel further confusion — at times justifiably leading to unjust wars.

The number of unbiased studies about Berber language(s) and civilisation(s) is hardly any, compared to the popularised Greek's and Ancient Egyptian's edited histories; and until then one can only wait for the facts to emerge from the deserted desert, before one is empowered by its hidden secrets. 

Libya's previous rulers and their friends showed no serious interest in Libya's deepest history; and let us hope the new leaders can see the light that made them who they are — the light that made them see in pitch-black darkness.

Libya's archaeological and prehistoric heritage, oral literature and other obscure-d venues shall provide rich environment for determined Berberists to research and ultimately enjoy — once freedom sinks in; the spring blossoms with real flowers (instead of metal stings); and the “chariots of fire” fall back to Hell.

Thus, to this day Berber language remains persecuted, unofficial, and extensively neglected, as much as “recorded history” itself still refuses to update its pages with the most recent results.




Commanding bronze statue of the Berber Roman emperor Septimius Severus

Septimius Severus: Libyan-Roman Emperor (193-211 AD); Africa's first Roman Emperor.
Born in Berber Leptis Magna.
Died in York, UK; upon taking part (indirectly) in the brutal massacre of Boudica's indigenous tribes of Britain.
Boudica, dear father, was our friend who defended her nation to death — the bravest of the British.



Berber Friends, Personalities, And North African Explorers

The five Berber Libyan Nasamonians of ancient Eastern Libya were perhaps the first ever to venture into the Sahara — at least the first to leave a record of their heroic efforts for us to hear. During the conversation between some Libyans (from Cyrene) and the Ammonian king Etearchus (regarding the riddle of the source of the river Nile), the latter, according to Herodotus, “had once had a visit from certain Nasamonians, a people who live in Syrtis and the country a little to the eastward. Being asked if there was anything more they could tell him about the uninhabited parts of Libya, these men declared that a group of wild young fellows, sons of chieftains in their country, had on coming to manhood planned amongst themselves all sorts of extravagant adventures, one of which was to draw lots for five of their number to explore the Libyan desert and try to penetrate further than had ever been done before”.

Eratosthenes of Cyrene ( c. 276 BC – c. 195/194 BC): a mathematician, geographer, poet, astronomer, and music theorist who entered history for being the first man to measure the diameter of planet Earth; the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth; and the first to calculate the tilt of the Earth's axis. Being a man of learning he became the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria. He is also known for inventing the discipline of geography, inventing the leap day, calculating the distance between the Earth to the Sun, and creating  the first map of the world. For more information please see (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eratosthenes), or download Eratosthenes' Geography.

Al-Idrisi (12th century): at one stage in history, the Nile was thought to bend westward and over to the Niger River in the west, and perhaps the reason the Nasamonians' failure to trace its eastern source. But nearly 1700 years after Herodotus' death, the North African al-Idrisi was said to have had discovered the river Nile flowed from Africa's equatorial lakes long before European explorers eventually claimed the discovery and named it Lake Victoria.

Hanno (ca 500–450 BC): the North African navigator Hano was among the first to explore the west African coast. About 2000 years ago Berber Mauritania's king Juba's expedition went as far west as the Canaries — long before their inhabitants were slaughtered by European pirates. [It might be of interest to note here that Pausanias (Description of Greece, v. 1, xvii, 2) informs us that there were statues of the Libyan Juba in the gymnasium of Ptolemy, near the market-place of beloved Athena.] Whether Hanno was a Berber or a Phoenician it is not easy to say, not for lack of destroyed records and burnt Berber libraries, as much as references were made to “Hanno the Libyan, starting out from Carthage” and travelling beyond the “Columns of Heracles out into the ocean, keeping Africa on his left”.

Ibn Batuta: Between 1325 and 1354 the Berber Moroccan Ibn Batuta explored the western portions of the Sahara, and along the northern coast of the continent he reached east Africa, before continuing his quest into Arabia. His claim of reaching as far as the “Far East” were said far-fetched, just as those of other ancient and medieval travellers. Not to mention that the proper geography of Africa itself became known to Europeans only after Leo Africanus published his Description de l'Afrique in 1550 — on which Marmol himself based his book Afrique (1573 AD).

Leo Africanus (1485–1554): a North African Berber geographer, explorer, and traveller who wrote a Geographical History of Africa, including a description of the Berber kingdoms and Timbuktu. Even three centuries later, European geographers continued to draw fancy pictures of wild beasts in unknown places and brown Africans and dwarfs in uninhabited zones in their maps of Africa. Leo Africanus wrote his book in Arabic, before it was translated into Italian. The book was written in 1526, but it was not published until 1550, when the book came into the hands of Jean-Baptiste Ramusio — who was said to may have rewrote the entire book. Unfortunately we will never know how much has been added or removed because Leo's original work did not survive. The Italian edition was later translated into English in 1600 by John Pory.

To speak of geographers without mentioning astrolabes would be unfair, and so the Berber story goes by saying the Moorish (Berber) astrolabe (1067) was used for geographical orientation before the Chinese invented the magnetic needle in 1119, and long before the invention of the octant and then the sextant in the 18th century.

A'ebdla'ziz Ben A'ebdella's book ‘Alu'loum Alkawniyyah Wattajribiyyah Fi Almaghrib’ (p. 125) lists a number of astrolabes invented by North African scientists including Abu ar-Rabia' al-Laji al-Fasi (from Fas, Morocco) and  Ya'qoub Ben Mousa al-Fasi. The same author, in citing the French historian Ronan, informs us (p. 34) that Columbus himself confessed that he did not feel that there was a dry continent beyond the Atlantic Ocean until he read the Kulliyyat book, written by the North African scientist Ibn Rushd.

In fact, America itself may have been discovered several times, and not once, before Columbus, by Celtic navigators; and as Anthony Burgess puts it: “Any boy named Maurice . . . ought to be proud at apparently having named a continent. Dr Basil Cottle, the onomastic expert, considers that 'America' derives from the Welsh 'Ap Meuric', son of Maurice. A certain Richard Amerik, senior collector of customs for Bristol, was probably the 'heaviest investor' in John Cabot's second westward voyage in 1498. The nominative claim of Amerigo Vespucci as regards America Dr Cottle considers 'frivolous'” (A Mouthful of Air, p. 328, 329). 

According to a recent discovery by Kirsten Seaver (endorsed by Peter Barber of the British Library, London, UK) the Vinland map, which rewrote the history of America and was thought to have been drawn in 1440 (long before Columbus' trip to America), is a 1930 forgery by the Austrian Father Joseph Fischer. The map appears to confirm the arrival of Norsemen in America five centuries before Columbus paved the way for the destruction of Aztec and other native American cultures. “Bjarni Herjolfsson is believed,” reports Nicholas Hellen, “to have sailed there in 985 and Leif Eriksson in 1002. Historians now accept that the Norse explorers were indeed first — but the map which appeared to prove it was an  inspired fraud” (Sunday Times, London, 04/08/2002).

As yet undocumented academically, Berber and Berber-related-Iberian inscriptions were found in Iowa, Texas, Nevada, New Mexico, California, and St. John's, as well as in Polynesia. A collection of these inscriptions were published by Barry Fell in his Saga America and America BC, and in The Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications (volumes 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 14, 18, 19, 20; 1975–1991). He also published papers comparing North African languages to American Zuni. But although Fell's research may suggest that Africans and Iberians were in America long before Columbus, scholars made no attempt to follow his results, which they said are ‘debatable’.

Estevan De Dorantes: another Berber explorer rarely mentioned in history books is the Moroccan Estevan (Estevanico) De Dorantes. He was from the Berber village of Azemmour, who was a member of the Narvaez expedition that sailed from Spain in 1527. They were stranded on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, and consequently captured by the native Americans. He was reported to have died when he was attacked by the Berber-like Zuni tribes between 1539 and 1540. Apparently he continued practicing his native Berber religious duties, to eventually become highly respected by the Zuni people, some of whom even worshipped him as a demi-god.

Abbas Bin Firnas (810–887 AD): the Berber, Andalusian inventor-engineer Abbas Bin Firnas was born in Izn-Rand Onda (Ronda, Spain) in 810 AD. At the age 70 he has entered the pages of history as the first man to fly. Inspired by birds, he invented artificial wings, covered them and himself with feathers, took to a hill in Cordoba, and launched himself into the air. He was said to have flown for a considerable time before he crash-landed, badly hurting his back, apparently because he failed to include a ‘tail’ in his prototype. His story was told by the Moroccan historian Ahmed Mohammed Maqqari (d.1632), based on a 9th century account of the poet Mu'min Ibn Said, who said that Ibn Firnas flew faster than the phoenix and that he dressed his body in the feathers of a vulture [Lynn Townsend White, Jr., Eilmer of Malmesbury, an Eleventh Century Aviator: A Case Study of Technological Innovation, Its Context and Tradition, Technology and Culture 2 (2), 1961, p. 97–111]. 

Callimachus (310/305–240 BC): a Berber poet from Cyrene, Eastern Libya. He was a critic and scholar at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, famous for being the first librarian in the world who produced  the world's first library catalogue in 245 BC – a stupendous 120 volumes long bibliographic survey of the contents of the Alexandria Library, organized by authors and subjects, and collectively known as the “Pinakes” (‘tables’).

Saint Augustine (13 November 354–28 August 430): one of the most known of Africa's 100 bishops is the Berber bishop of Algerian Hippo St. Augustine, one of the first Christian philosophers whose contribution to Christian thought is detailed in his book: “The City of God”. 

Saint Mark (1st century AD): the first Christian Bible was written by Saint Mark — a Berber native of  Cyrene, in Libya's Green Mountain, else known as the author of the “Gospel of Mark” and the founder of Christianity in Africa. Upon his arrival in Egypt he founded  the Church of Alexandria and began spreading the new religion — the religion which Berber Arius Ammonius  deplored for being freely mixed with pagan philosophy. Both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria are considered the successors of Saint Mark's Church of Alexandria. 

Arius Ammonius (AD 250/256–336 AD): the Berber leader of the movement of reform and modernization in Christianity in North Africa, who emphasized the Father's divinity over the Son. He was an ascetic Christian presbyter and a priest of the church of Baucalis in Alexandria, Egypt. He was described as being a tall man of pure morals and distinguished appearance, with charming personality and an aura of intellectual superiority. 

Sextus Julius Africanus (c. 160–c. 240) : the Berber scholar and historian Sextus is known for choosing the date on which to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The Christian Bible does not provide any information about the date on which Jesus was born, but after a few hundred years Christian theologians agreed on the date chosen by the Berber scholar, namely the 25th of December (Christmas Day). The BBC has a short video about this little fact in its website. His surname, Africanus, clearly preserves his African origin. The 25th of December apparently is the date on which the three stars of Orion's belt (the so-called “three kings”) align with both the Sirius star and the rising sun, and hence the Son is the Sun.



List of Berber Personalities In History

Ancient Berber Kings, Queens & Personalities

  • Shoshenq I: (Shishenq I): Berber Pharaoh, founder of the Egyptian 22nd dynasty (945-924 BC); (946-925); (943-922)? Shoshenk's daughter was married to king Solomon, who built a special palace for her.
  • Wayheset: Libyan king.
  • Osorkon I: Berber King, probably son of Shoshenq from Karima (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 924-889 BC).
  • Queen Makere: wife of King Osorkon I.
  • Shoshenq II: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 890-889 BC).
  • Takeloth I: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 889-874 BC).
  • Osorkon II: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 874-850 BC).
  • Horseise: Hight Preist of Amon: son of Sheshonk II.
  • Takeloth II: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 850-825 BC).
  • Amazigh chief Larbas: negotiated a deal to marry Princess Dido in 814 BC (Tarshish: Carthage)?
  • Pediese: Great Chief of the Meshwesh.
  • Hetihenker: Great Chief of the Meshwesh.
  • Shoshenq Ill: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 825-773 BC).
  • Pimay (‘The Cat’): son of Shoshenq III: (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 773-767 BC).
  • Bakennefi: brother of Pimay: Prince of Heliopolis.
  • Shoshenq IV: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty 767-730 BC).
  • Osorkon IV: Berber King (Egyptian 22nd dynasty: 730-715).
  • Pedubast: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Input II: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Sheshong VI: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Osorkon III: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Takeloth III: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Rudamon: Berber King: (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Tefnakht: Berber King, founder of the  Egyptian 24th  dynasty (unified the Delta).
  • Bocchoris: Berber King (Egyptian 23rd dynasty).
  • Masinissa:  King of Numidia.
  • Jugurtha:  King of Numidia.
  • Juba II: King of Numidia.
  • Macrinus:  Roman emperor.
  • Clodius Albinus: ruler of Britannia.
  • Lusius Quietus: ruler of Judaea.
  • Quintus Lollius Urbicus: ruler of Britannia (138–144 AD).
  • Septimius Severus:  Libyan Roman emperor (193–211 AD).
  • Tacfarinas: (Leader of the wars against  the Romans in the Aures Mountains).
  • Firmus: (fought the Romans: 372–375).
  • Gildo: (fought the Romans in 398).
  • Publius Terentius Afer (Terence: writer, Latin).

  • Lucius  Apuleius: author of “The Transformations of  Lucius Apuleius of Madaura”, otherwise known as “The Golden Ass”. Wonderful work of written-art. A maze of clues. A treasure for the future to indulge. Humour at its best. Queen Isis.

  • Priscian: (Latin grammarian).
  • Marcus Cornelius Fronto: (Roman grammarian).
  • Saint Augustine of Hippo: Christian philosopher; the founder of Christian Philosophy).
  • Saint Monica of Hippo: (Saint Augustine's mother).
  • Arius: (proposed the doctrine of Arianism).
  • Donatus Magnus: (head of Donatist School).
  • Gelasius I: (Pope: 492-496).
  • Victor I: (Pope: 186-201).
  • Miltiades: (Pope: 311-314).
  • Abd ar-Rahman I: (731-788).
  • Al-Mansur:  (712-775).
  • Tariq ibn Ziyad (Zeyyad): (leader of the army that invaded Spain in 711 AD).
  • Adrian of Canterbury: Abbot of St Augustine's Abbey in Canterbury.

  • Dihya: Kahina: Berber Queen, Priestess and War General; the fiercest Berber leader who defended her nation to death. According to the Arab generals themselves, she defeated them like no other general had done before her, and that whenever a Berber tribe is slaughtered, another emerged from the mirage like the jinn of the desert. 

  • Aksil:  Kusayla: King or tribal leader.
  • Salih ibn Tarif of Berghouata: translated the Koran to Berber.
  • Abbas Ibn Firnas: first man to fly.
  • Ibn Tumart: founder of the Almohad dynasty.
  • Yusuf ibn Tashfin: Almoravid dynasty.
  • Al Idrisi: scientist and geographer.
  • Ibn Battuta: traveller.
  • Ibn Khaldoun: histography.
  • Leo Africanus: geographer and historian.
  • Abu Yaqub Yusuf I.
  • Abu Yaqub Yusuf II.
  • Ziri ibn Manad: founder of Zirid dynasty.
  • Muhammad Awzal.
  • Muhammad al-Jazuli: Sufi.
  • Imam al-Busiri: poet.
  • Abu Ali al-Hassan al-Yusi.

Modern Berber Personalities

  • Solaiman al-Barouni: Berber from Jado, Nafousa Mountain, Libya: creator of the first republic in the North Africa and the Middle East: the Tripolitanian Republic.
  • Jean Amrouche, (1906–1962) writer and Taos Amrouche's brother.
  • Taos Amrouche: powerful Algerian writer and singer (1913-1976).
  • Said Sifaw al-Mah'rouq: Libyan scholar, poet, writer, activist, and linguist, from Jado, Nafousa Mountain.
  • Mohammed Bessaoud: Algerian spiritual father of Berberism.
  • Hocine Aït Ahmed: Algerian revolutionary fighter and secularist politician.
  • Saïd Sadi: Algerian politician.
  • Ali Yahya Mua'amar: Libyan Abadi Scholar.
  • Mouloud Feraoun: Algerian writer assassinated by the OAS.
  • Mouloud Mammeri: Algerian writer, anthropologist and linguist.
  • Salem Chaker: Algerian Berberist, writer, linguist, cultural and political activist.
  • Sidi Said: leader of the Algerian syndicate of workers: UGTA.
  • Khalida Toumi: Algerian feminist and secularist.
  • Ahmed Ouyahia: Prime Minister of Algeria.
  • Belaïd Abrika: one of the spokesmen of the Arouch.
  • Nordine Ait Hamouda: secularist politician and son of Colonel Amirouche.
  • Driss Jettou: Prime Minister of Morocco.
  • Lalla Fatma n Soumer: female warrior (Amazon) who led western Kabylie in battle against the French.
  • Kateb Yacine: writer founder of the “berberiste mouvement”.
  • Mohamed Chafik: Moroccan writer; IRCAM.
  • Tahar Djaout: writer and journalist assassinated by the GIA in 1993.
  • Si Mohand: Kabyle poet.
  • Fidel Castro: (Cuba: his mother was said a Berber from the Canary Islands).
  • Morocco's King Mohammed VI  (the monarchy's mother was a Berber).



The Berber Flag

berber flag

The above flag was adopted by Berber activists and was used most commonly by the Kabyles in Algeria, when the flag appeared in political demonstrations and in banners, before it spread to websites. It was said that the flag was designed by Mohammed Bessaoud, the spiritual father of Berberism in Algeria, who fought during the independence wars between 1954 and 1962.

berber flag canary

The above flag is one of the other variants
that was proposed by Canarian Berberists during the 1997 World Amazigh Congress.


Berber Calendar

Some Berber activists even made a Berber calendar dating back to 950 BC, when Libyan Shoshenq I became the King-Pharaoh of the Egyptian XXII dynasty, without actually telling us what had happened between 750 BC (when the Libyan kings lost control of Egypt) and now (the present time) as to constitute a continuous calendar (presumably of events); and without conducting professional research into this astronomical subject. 

Pursuing the same line of thinking, one finds it hard to understand why one cannot start from before 3100 BC and see what the “Palermo Stone” has to say about the line of Libyan Berber kings and queens whom history had practically forgotten?  Ladies and gentlemen it is now 5113 AD! 

The 12th of January has now been presumed the day in which the Berbers should celebrate the festival of Yennayer 2962 — the New Year; while the year 2963 was celebrated on the 13th of January 2013. It is understood that the 13th of January is the day chosen by activists to be the start of the Berber new year.

The original Berber Calendar, for the record, is an agricultural calendar; in which the course of the stars and the constellations was pinned in the heavens to reflect and regulate seasonal changes and activities on earth, such as ploughing, sowing, and harvest; to ensure maximum benefit and prosperity for the whole community — and not just for the 1%.

Hence, the Berbers still celebrate the festival with feasting on traditional foods, to thank Mother for her gifts. The calendar requires proper research to bring to light, but one is certain that it has nothing to do with political propaganda of kings, warmongering dictators or matricidal masters. In other words, it is not a political calendar; never was a political calendar; and Berberists have no right to make it so.


Cultural Euphoria

During the early 1970s a kind of cultural euphoria proliferated amongst Berberists to revive their persecuted, undocumented culture, and in doing so they mistook and stumbled along the barricaded way. This kind of confusion is very symptomatic and characteristic of the early Berber cultural revival; ultimately leading to quality and accuracy being the first casualties of freedom. But the point forward is to look back, reflect, and focus on the long road ahead.

One of the first errors made is to invent new words to replace what they thought were foreign words in Berber. These were published in a small dictionary called “Amawal” (Berber-French, French Berber Dictionary, Imedyazen, Paris, 1980). These invented words have now entered literary works and song, as they are widely used by Berber writers, poets, activists, and artists. Initially this material was barred by Arab despots, but with the progressive advent of internet technologies tyrants had finally gave up the job; only to be re-placed by sponsored terror.

This may not be bad news, after all, if you knew which is which — if you knew the original from the invented; but scientific enquiry may become affected at some point, where one fails to distinguish between the ‘original’ and the ‘hypothetical’. The custom amongst linguists is to place an asterisk (*) before invented words, but some excited Berberists declared themselves stars of their own.

Brothers and sisters, there is always the exciting possibility that those discarded Berber words may well turn out to be original Berber words, simply because Hamitic languages are much older than Semitic languages, and thus most  of the Afrasiatic vocabulary is African Hamitic in origin. This is a linguistic fact, and so why go against it, dear friends?

Worse still, the activists had even tampered with the ancient Tifinagh alphabet. The improvised Tifinagh script contains 55 letters, 22 of which were new inventions — presumably out of the blue. Adding new ones to cover those sounds that are not covered by the original alphabet is something only some might say is ‘okay’, so long it is done by specialists. But to alter existing ones for whatever reason including convenience is a flagrant disrespect of the script Berberists ought to respect.

For a particular, foreign-funded group to impose their invented proposals on the Berbers as a whole is something some Libyans and the Kabyles refused to buy. How much the living martyrs had to endure is perhaps the price many cannot pay. There is no doubt these pioneers were alone, exploring the mysterious Sahara in darkness, guided only by its dazzling stars, while having to evade prison, exile and certain death on the ground, and for that we must remember them for all their brilliant mistakes.

Clarifying the issue hopefully will aid future Berberists to correct the path, steer away from stubborn trouble, build the momentum needed, and gather the rare funds required to build a unified Berber curriculum, democratically built by the Imazighen themselves — not by others who claim to be their friends only to obfuscate their identity, effect awful conflicts upon pain, and impose clear government strategies which, like Salem Chaker had said, seem to lead to “sure dead end”. Does one need to buy blinding sunlight as well? Perhaps patience and pursuit of knowledge are the keys others will not let you have to unlock your door.

We need strength and loving peace for the long road ahead. We need to document our entire oral literature first; collect and decipher all the inscriptions and engravings scattered across North Africa; archive our prehistoric heritage; rewrite our hijacked history with our own fingers; then study the material with our own heads, before we can rebuild our ‘Homeland’ with our hands – the Berber Empire Without Borders.

Let us hope Berber academic institutions and scholars can keep their heads high, and on their shoulders too, and lead the way forward on firm and common ground, to eradicate irrationals inherited from persistent persecution and paranormal apparitions, and preserve their unique ‘soul’.

One also hopes  governments show some mercy, constitutionalise our language, grant us our due share of our countries' squandered wealth, and, alas, remember Berbers are ‘human beings’.

What is it that makes us humans if it is not human language?
Take that away from any mortal community and you will end-up with nothing but “mere animals”.

Without a strong political and administrative body overseeing the transition to freedom and democracy, based on peaceful and scientific principles, the Berber revolution could well descend into (perceived) cultural anarchy, and (orchestrated) political chaos.

Thank you.

Berber Nesmenser; Zuwarah, Libya.
All Rights Reserved © 2012. www.temehu.com.

Updated: 12 February 2012.
Updated: 06 May 2012.
Updated: 25 August 2012.
Updated: 27 August 2012.
Updated: 07 September 2012.
Updated: 27 January 2013.
Updated: 17 June 2013
Updated: 25 June 2013
Updated: 07 February 2014
Updated: 17 August 2014
Updated: 21 December 2014

Updated: 29 April 2015
Updated: 25 January 2016
Updated: 8 February 2016
Updated: 29 December 2016
Updated: 21 October 2017

*  *  *


What good is it to have
Freemen who sleep in this world of suffering
Wake up, my people
Straighten up, my people
Confront the difficulties of your current situation
A long road awaits you
What good is it to have
Freemen who sleep in this world of suffering

I remember this girl
Whom I left under the stars
Amongst those who invaded me
When I returned, she was alone
Abandoned on this barren and deserted earth
Her memory haunts me day and night

My friends, my friends
Never forget what
We learned from our parents
My friends, my friends
Let us not forget this heritage
That our parents have left us
Let us keep it fondly
This heritage is our identity
. . .”

Berber Bombino (Album: Nomad, 2013)
If you like the words, get ready for Bomb-ino no-mad psychedelic ban-g here.



Imidiwan n Sahara ibas negraw elhurria;
Ad nenmenak ghred nemda megh annemat ibas nella;
Bas radjech tett dagh essahra
.”  Tinariwen.   Translation