A panoramic view in Amazigh Literature


It is so astonishing that Imazighen possess, along their history, an alphabet “TIFINAGH”, didn’t write in their own language “Tamazight”, Only some inscriptions, some texts from the medieval ages, some poems and some religious writings. The Burghwatians have well translated Coran from Arabic to Amazigh language, but this text was very limited and then disappeared. Along their history, Imazighen neglected their own language; they preferred to write in the language of dominant people. This choice has not only favored the cultural assimilation, but prevented the emergence of a national standard, common form of Amazigh language, as an instrument for the linguistics and political unification.

1- Amazigh literature written in Phoenician and Latin languages.

Imazighen, especially those who were living in Cartage wrote their texts in Punique language, but we have no texts in Punique language, Amazigh literature written in Punique is entirely destructed after the fall of Carthage. In contrast, Amazigh literature written in Latin is conserved. The Latin language, like all the languages of conquerors, was imposed on people of Tamazgha by force. But, language for many Amazigh writers is just an instrument of communication in which they express their ideas and feelings.

AFULAY (125 AD 170)

A native of Madora (Mdarauch), in Castantin, he had done his studies in Athena then in Roma. But later, he came back to Tamazgha, where he wrote his famous book and obtained a big fame. His masterpiece, the metamorphoses, or the Golden Ass, is a novel in 11 books that relates the adventures of a young man called Luciano, is considered to be the first novel in the human history.

Augustine of Hippo (354 AD)

He is the most famous Amazigh writer who wrote in Latin language, was one of the most important figures in the development of Christianity. The Roman Catholic, he is a saint. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fountainheads of reformation teaching of salvation and grace. His works, including the confessions, which are often called the first Western autobiography, are still read by Christians around the world.

Augustine died on August 28, 430, during the siege of Hippo by the Vandals. He is said to have encouraged its citizens to resist the attacks of the colonizers.

2- Amazigh contemporary literature written in French

As the case with Latin language, French was imposed by force on people of Tamazgha. As a result, many Amazigh writers wrote their works in this language.

Mouloud Mammeri

He was born on the 29th of December, 1917 in Kabilya, A patriot who struggled for the independence of Algeria from the French colonization. But Mammeri is well known as an advocate for cultural pluralism in Algeria and the struggle for the recognition of the Amazigh cultural and language throughout Tamazgha. In 1980 his lecture on the ancient Amazigh poetry of Kabyla was canceled by the authorities. This act of repression raised massive demonstrations all over Algeria. The date in which the demonstrations started is still celebrated as Tafsut Imazighen by the Amazigh movement all over Tamazgha.

Mohamed Kheir Eddine

Kheir Eddine born in Tafrawt (1949- 1995).he came from an Amazigh family from the south of Morocco. Kheir Eddine was famous for his uncontrolled sense of freedom, making him one of the most famous figures of Moroccan literature written in French language. He wrote many novels, in which he insists on preserving the Amazigh cultural heritage.

Amazigh Poetry

As we know, literature is an art which includes many genres. Poetry is a genre of literature. Amazigh poetry is an instrument by which they express their values, way of life, and the sociopolitical situation. One of the main characteristics of Amazigh poetry is Orality. Besides, Amazigh poetry is linked to singing and dancing.

Amazigh poetry all over Tamazgha is influenced by the oral tradition of the Amazigh ethnic community, its popular beliefs, traditions, and legends on the one hand and to resistance to the colonial power on the other hand. They seek to defend the cultural heritage of Imazighen, seeking traditions as a “heaven” to be recuperated. In this context, the role of the Amazigh woman represents the primary vehicle through which legends are transferring oral traditions. In addition to woman, old people play an important role in preserving and passing on legends.

To sum up, Amazigh literature is so rich, based on orality, but in the recent years, many Amazigh writers doing their attempts to shift from Orality to written. But, Amazigh literature is still marginalized. The mass-media, textbooks, and the Panarabists doing every effort to distort this human heritage, and the central regime supports this policy by elaborating programs of arabisation to eradicate all what is linked to Tamazight.

– Mouloud Mammeri. Les Isfra de Si Mohand.
– Camille Lacoste-Dujardin. La conte Kabyle. Etude ethnologique.
– Dalet, M. Dictionnaire Kabyle-Français.
– Nicolas Journet. Les mythes selon Levi Strauss, sciences Humaines.
– Pierre H. Saviniac. Contes Berbere de Kabyle.
– Magazine littéraire. Dossier sur Augustine.

By: Sabri El Hammaoui

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