What is the culture and customs of the "Berber" African Society? 

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lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Berbers are a North African tribe. With regard to customs:

Many Berbers are farmers who grow wheat, barley, fruits, nuts, vegetables and olives for oil in the lowlands in winter and graze flocks of sheep and goats in the mountains during the summer. Some are still nomads who migrate with their camels and herds around the desert plateaus and oases. Their fortified villages are often located high on the mountain ridges and are composed of houses, a mosque, a fortified threshing floor (kasbah) and a gathering place for the assembly of elders (Jama'ah) which controls village life.

What is interesting to note is that, in spite of numerous conquests, they have tried to maintain as much as possible of their own identity. We have learned about their past from the writings of the Phoenecians who indicate that in the distant past:

Berber society was made up of many small tribes, who would unite briefly to fight off intruders and would then return to their independent lifestyle. Fragmentation, fighting against each other and love of freedom have always characterised Berber culture.

Originally, the Berbers had their own strong religious beliefs:

In remote times the Berbers were animists worshipping rocks, springs, rivers and mountains and venerating the sun, moon and stars. Their legends, beliefs, and ceremonies still reflect some of this ancient religion. Later they borrowed the Gods of their Phoenician and Roman colonisers

As Christianity began to spread across their region, these Strong-willed people kept their own identity by making specific religious choices:

The independent Berber spirit expressed itself in the adoption of sectarian teachings, such as Montanism, Donatism, Pelagianism and Arianism.

When the Arabs conquered the area, many of them adopted Islam.

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