Amazigh celebrations

In the Maghreb, decolonization in the 50s and 60s was effected to a good extent based on the banner of an arabo-islamic nationalism which staged Arabic as the true language of the region. Many people, the various Berber-speaking communities in particular, but also major cultural figures such as the poet and novelist Kateb Yacine, insisted all along, that arabo-islamic culture had also been a colonial or imperialistic imposition — even if that conquest had happened a millennium earlier —, and the actual local cultural and linguistic herirtage was Berber, or Amazigh.
It has taken a long time, but Amazigh was finally recognized as a “national” language in Morocco and, more recently, in Algeria where hard battles had been fought over the years against the autocractic regime. Maghrebia news has just come out with a report on festivities earlier this month, commemorating this heritage:

Magharebia
Published on Magharebia‎

Amazigh mark symbolic date of 20 April

25/04/2006

Since 1980, 20 April has been celebrated in all Amazigh-speaking regions of Algeria. The symbolic date marks popular discontent that erupted into violent demonstrations against the governmental decision not to recognise their identity. After 26 years, Amazigh language is now recognised as a national language, studied by hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren.

By Kaci Racelma for Magharebia in Algiers – 25/04/06

[Getty Images] Around 1,000 protesters marched on 20 April in Tizi-Ouzou to celebrate the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Amazigh movement.

After 26 years of waiting, the Amazigh language is today recognised as a national language, studied by hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren.

In reality, the Amazigh movement has its roots in the1940s when militants such as Imache Amar, M’barek Ait Menguelet, Ouali Benai, and Khalifati Mohand Amokrane called for Algeria’s Amazigh dimension to be given due recognition.

Since then, the identity issue has continued to pass from generation to generation in a continually-fluctuating political climate. During the 1970s, high school students, university students and even emigrants played their part in steps to promote Amazigh culture and language. At this time, several circles and forums existed, making a great contribution to the awareness-raising process.

The popular discontent arising from this identity awareness-raising had risen to such a level that it was no longer possible for the Algerian press to ignore it. On 20 March 1980, El Moudjahid reported on the movement for the first time. Following the report, the “Amazigh Spring” was born, and is celebrated by Algerian Amazighs on 20 April each year.

This year, Kabylia is celebrating the 26th anniversary of the historic date. Festivities took place in a climate of complete serenity as tensions have dropped perceptibly since President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s recognition of the Amazigh language as a national language.

20 April was marked in particular by a march in Tizi-Ouzou

Apart from the
various cultural and social events organised by the distinct Amazigh regions, the day of 20 April was marked in particular by a march in Tizi-Ouzou.

Marchers started out at 11am, following a route from Place of 10 Avril to Place Matoub Lounes to express their deep commitment to “the Amazigh language becoming an official language in the constitution” and “the effective application of the demands of the El Kseur platform”, according to the main placards being carried.

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