Saturday, August 8, 2015

Berber--sort of

I was planning to do a little post on the term "Berber" here tonight, after going to a concert at the Church Street Fair today, which is the free outdoor portion of the Cabrillo Music Festival going on these first couple of weeks of August. The Moroccan musicians that I made a point of seeing said that to their people, "Berber" is an offensive term, and that the people of that region would prefer to be called by their self-given name, the Amazigh people. And at first glance, internet searches lead you to see Berber as a form of that old Greek bar-bar, where we get barbarians, which made some sense.

But then I happened upon a blogpost that went into the whole issue much further than I can or would. It is by a blogger called Indiana Josh, who goes into different theories about where the word Berber really comes from, and though it's interesting, I knew I wasn't really in any position to weigh in on either side of the argument, or even do half as good a job of summing it all up, so I think I'm just going to give you the link to that post. Make of it what you will. I will say that it seems to be done with good will and not with any particular agenda.

Meanwhile, it's probably just good policy in general to ask people what they call themselves and what they'd like you to call them.

And while I'm at it, here's a website of AZA: Amazigh Music and Culture with a sample of Fattou and Mahomed's music, which better judges than I have deemed praiseworthy (and I agree). Also, you can watch a lot of it on Youtube if you just search for AZA music.

Mahomed and Fattou


  1. I'm listening to the sample now. Sounds a little like West African music and a little like Western music. No surprise there, I suppose.

    I learned a bit about the Berbers/Amazigh when I read some Algerian history a while back. For one, I seem to recall that they were not among the gentlest of rulers. For another, there has been bitter rivalry between them and Arabic speakers in Algeria..

  2. At the live open air concert that I went to, the two guys played by themselves first on traditional instruments and then brought in a Brazilian drummer and a woman saxophone player. I don't think the videos quite capture the live experience, but ain't it always the way.