Introduction / History
Berbers are divided by subgroup, yet the generic term that they prefer is Imazighen, meaning, "Free men." Freedom and independence is a high goal of these people, who are much better known as Berbers, a term meaning "barbarians" slapped on them by the Roman Empire. Today the term Berber is so well-engrained that people seldom know who they are without using this derogatory term. The Imazighen Berbers live primarily in the beautiful, wooded High Atlas and Middle Atlas Mountains of Central Morocco. However, a large number of them also live on the slopes of the Atlas Mountains in eastern Algeria, near Morocco's border. All of the Berber speak Tamazight; however, many also speak Arabic, Algeria's official language.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Imazighen Berbers in Algeria are semi-nomadic shepherds. In the mountains, raising animals is economically more important than farming. The dominant feature of Berber life is transhumance. This means that they transfer their livestock from one grazing ground to another, alternating from the highlands to the lowlands, with the changing of seasons. In the Berber family, as many as three or four generations live together in one small room, sharing everything. The father is the head of the family, and ancestry is traced through the males. The family structure is somewhat of an authoritarian democracy. While the father is responsible for controlling all household matters, he must obtain the agreement of the rest of the family as well. Banishment from the family is considered the ultimate punishment.
There are some who are making an active effort to achieve recognition of the Moroccan Imazighen identity, but other are happy to live and mix with Arabs.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Although the Imazighen are almost completely Muslim, they still retain many of their traditional beliefs, such as saint worship. They usually celebrate the Muslim holidays, visiting friends and neighbors during these festive times. Weddings are lengthy celebrations that often last several days.
What Are Their Needs?
Imazighen Berbers need the chance to put their identity in Jesus Christ and enjoy his blessings in this life and in the life to come. Someone needs to go to them with the life-changing gospel.
Pray for a spiritual hunger among Imazighen Berbers that will lead them to the cross and the empty grave. Pray for Imazighen Berbers in Algeria to put their faith and hope in Christ, paving the way for a Disciple Making Movement. Pray for loving workers to go to Imazighen leaders and find persons of peace who will welcome them into their communities with the gospel.
Scripture Prayers for the Berber, Imazighen in Algeria.