Our Amazigh identity and the place name


For a proper understanding of the various aspects of human history, such as history of language, literature, tribes, art, etc. we need to search every word from what we pronounce to the place name. Here why the study of geography with terms of historical research and toponyms studies has proved to be very much helpful. This makes the history of a particular region is basically associated to its origin depending on the distinctions of its toponomic features.

Toponyms study unfolds the forgotten facts which contributed to the origin of a human settlement at a particular place. This concerns us as Imazighen in North Africa, as we face rapid changes within the society’s topography, demands on rewriting our own history and preserving our own name places.

On this occasions leaves exported ideologies can take part in reshaping a socio-graph of nation. This is the same what s happing in Libya concerning our Tamazight culture and heritage were the Arabization system policy played much role on eradicating Amazigh culture identity aspects, leaving a catastrophe of demolishing an entire Amazigh cultural, social and political identity.

Place name can be devoted to the cultural elements of a nation s identity socially and politically, with the aim of considering the dimension of identity from landscapes to ethnological facts. By the year 1973, a Cultural Revolution in Libya led by Colonel Kaddafi in city of Zwara an Amazighphone region and population. Were he announced a crucial action towards any Libyan cultural aspects including Tamazight as language and culture. Just to take into consideration that the name of Zwara is changed at that time to an Arabic name niqat al khams. Examples of dominating the arabizing system replacement of Amazigh place names in Libya were submitted to many places with Amazighphone regions like, Adrar Infusen changed to arabic name jebel algharbi (western mountains), Sirt ribat amami (front solidarity), Suf Ajen wadi jin (valley of jin), Suf Wajal wadi alhayat (valley of life) …etc. From that year the regime had merged its power to embark on the reconstruction of the Libyan society proclaiming as they see it pillars of Libyan state, Arabism, socialism as a root complex of Kaddafi s third universal theory.

By the end of 70 s there has been a serious attempt by the kaddafi s regime with frontage support by Revolutionary Committee Movement (H arakat Al lijan Atawriya) [1]; heavily represented as head of corruption in Libya later they played a significant role in detaching the society and behind lunching regime s social and cultural strategic plan under the name of Arabizing the Infusen Mountain range (Taa rib Al jebel) [2].

In many years Kaddafi s regime played much impact on accelerating this Arabization system in Libya; education facilities, teaching materials, regime s media, and social mentality. Were many Arabic teachers were imported from Egypt Colonel Nasser and Syria-Iraq Baathi party region. They carried with them indistinct corrupted pan- Arab nationalism ideology in form of opiate of people s mind. Expressed by many intellectuals at that time; Said Sifaw [3] as an example turning the point into how the Arabization and the call for pan-Arab unity can be enforced as ideological mentality, given the large number of people in Libya who still holds Tamazight as their mother tongue, leaving Arabic as foreign language having a role of religious deeds.

The importance of land to the Amazigh community demonstrates why we need to focus on the concept of toponyms studies, in order to increase the awareness of what factors can these studies have on preserving Amazigh cultural identity. Why don t we learn from the others and start motivating our minds with simple step towards our freedom, liberalizing our Amazigh identity from the corrupted Arabization policy and the future catastrophe of globalization. Continues of our history will need a real action. We are tired of begging for freedom, tired of being minorities to the pan-Arabs policies and their radical ideologies. And now we decided to start building on the strengths of our own people; decided to build our own past, present & future; and continue with our own destiny. This is why we now mobilize our people to act.

Mazigh buzakhar
Tripoli, Libya 18-12-2006

[1] H arakat Al lijan Atawriya, established in the year 1977 by Colonel Kaddafi. This movement played a very important role on shaping the socio-politic structure of Libya; been also involved and used by the regime in assassination programs.

[2] Taa rib Al jebel, a document released by Revolutionary Committee Movement in the late 70 s. bearing in mind the nature of this arabization policy on the Amazigh community in the mountain region; eradicating the last breathes of Amazigh identity in Libya.

[3] Said Sifaw, Amazigh Libyan poet, militant. After long struggle with death as handicapped he died in the year 1994.

Source: north-of-africa

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