The Amazigh | We Travel That We May Know

We journey out of our comfort zones that we may learn about the wider world. The world is big and vast and in so many respects small and intimate. When we travel there is a need to be connected; not just physically or digitally, but in a way where we learn the history of the space we occupy, for however long we are there, and we allow the stories leave an imprint on us if we let it. These are the people we meet along the way, their names and faces that smile back at us. The trader who offers you half his wares because you bought one thing, and offers your little boy some more because you want to hear their stories. These are the workers who work the earth, the ones who serve us food and take time to tell us about the meaning of each meal. These are the people who make the land much more that we can imagine, whose many words fill the stories we take with us.

There is a need for us to leave some part of us behind so that the land may not forget us as she welcomes other people. We leave with an imprint of the stories the land has to tell in hopes that we may return to a feeling of the familiar. It is important that we listen to these stories and pass them on.

On a recent trip to Morocco I got to take one of those journeys where it was more than visiting the souks in the medina, museums, famous gardens or palaces. It was about a connection sought unknowingly. We journeyed to the Atlas Mountains and beyond where we met the Amazigh people, indigenous Africans who occupied the land before being relegated. Here snow covered mountains kissed blue skies on a warm spring day. The ground was cool and the sun bathed us in a tempered heat- just perfect. We were welcomed into a traditional Amazigh household where everything felt like a world removed from the world we know outside of those walls; from the traditional methods of making flour to cooking to the pantry to how they ate together with their hands… everything felt almost celestial. We were welcomed by strangers and we left as friends.

In these parts of the world life is simple with hardly a need for modern conveniences or inconvenience as the case may be. They lack or want for nothing other than to share their world and their stories with you, to share their culture and tradition and to live a pleasant life whatever that may be on their terms. This is not to say life of the Amazigh has been pleasant, far from it these are the people who have fought and are still fighting to be recognized in a world that is erasing them into a phantom, a land which once belonged to them. Their customs, traditions and tongues becoming a relic, not even a footnote in history. Some still refer to them as the Berber people, a name which they reject because it was borne from colonisation and is a word the correlates with barbarian. Amazigh translates to Free People. And the quest for that freedom is an everyday struggle for the Amazigh, a struggle for recognition in their own land occupied by outsiders.

There is the need to learn these stories and pass them on. There is a need to be conscious about the stories of people we meet on our journey to discovering the world that eagerly awaits; a small world with plenty stories to tell if only we let it. To seek out these stories and learn more about their roots. It is important that we take those stories and pass them on because they shape our lives in ways we don’t know, they enrich us in ways we cannot feel. We carry them with us always and it doing so we carry along the people we have met, who have welcomed us and left an imprint on us. We carry them.