The Berbers – Algeria

The bloodline of the Berbers goes back 10,000 years and they are believed to be the one of the oldest peoples on earth in history. In Algeria, the Berber influence dates back to this time and a great majority of the ethnic groups of northwest Africa are of Berber descent. Researchers believe that they emigrated from East Africa and the Middle East during the Upper Paleolithic period.

Some believe that the word “Berber” originated from the Latin word “barbari” which was the forerunner of the word “Barbarian”. The is no written proof of this or how this group was named.

Although there is no record as to when the origin of the Berbers started, many written descriptions do appear in ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian text. About 1000 years ago, the Egyptian people were ruled by the Meshwesh tribe, which was believed to be the leading faction of the Berber empire in these times. The Meshwesh immigrants founded the 22nd Dynasty under the rule of Shoshenq 1, who prior to his role as leader, was the commander of the Egyptian army.

Most Berbers are of the Islamic faith and have been so since about 642. During this time, they were of great assistance to the Arabs as they spread their religion throughout northern Africa, but they were not always treated as equals. Many were treated as second-class citizens and some were enslaved which led to a revolt that stated that all converts to Islam had equal rights regardless of race or direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad.

Today they are over eight million Berbers living in Algeria. Although it is a generic name given to the people of the area, they are linked in their cultural views and political beliefs. Many countries now welcome these people and they have become a leading force of influence throughout the world.