From what I've understood there is a definitive difference between Arabs and Berbers. When you're talking about North Africa there has been migration from Arabs starting around 640 A.D. with the conquest of Egypt. Berbers are defined as the pre-Arabic population of North Africa. In fact most people from North Africa don't agree with the term Berber and call themselves Imazighen.
Originally Posted by Kushnology
From the articles written by Dana Marniche it becomes clear that there was a significant black presence among the Imazighen. Traces of this can still be seen in the nomadic groups travelling through the Sahara, such as the Tuaregs and even in those countries considered Arab (Youtube-- Black berbers) . Naturally the Arab migration might have altered the way the population looks like in North Africa but there still remain fundamental differences between Imazighen in areas such as culture.
The majority of the people in North Africa are actually not Arabs, but are ethnically Imazighen. What has happened is that the language and culture of the Imazighen have been repressed and marginalized. The result has been the arabisation of nearly all of North Africa, while the population is essentially Imazighen. This has also caused a rift because Imazighen have been caught in the divide-and-conquer tactic, causing them to disassociate with darker skinned Africans.
Despite the arabisation the Imazighen still have to be seen as an African people, wasn't it Shomarka Keita who said that the Imazighen still had genes which connected them to over 73 percent of the rest of the continent( the lighter skinned ones also)? Africa is genetically the most diverse continent on the planet, and it would seem to me that that also includes the Imazighen with an African culture and language.
If we're talking about the unification of the continent, then leaving out the Imazighen of North Africa because they're lighter skinned than the rest and saying they're Arabs, would seem like a crucial error to me?
I think this one of the areas in which we need to be very careful, I've noticed that sometimes in our hurry to act we don't fully investigate. Numerous times I've heard people say that people from North Africa are Arabs because they look alike and that they should be kicked out. However, what people need to remember is that people can have a similar appearance while not being related, An example of this is Iran.
Most people have an image of how an Arab looks like and decide that Iranians are Arabs based on their looks while in reality Arabs make up a minority in the country, the majority belonging to Persians, the same applies to North Africa. Sometimes we rely on distinguishing who's us and who's not based on skin color, but by doing so we apply the divide-and-conquer tactic to ourselves and make the enemy bigger than he is. It's said not to underestimate your opponent, but it isn't any better to overestimate him.
The way I see it the thing many of us are having problems with is realizing or seeing who belongs to us and who doesn't. If i'm not mistaken this is a problem which has been especially obvious in the U.S. People have trouble deciding whether a person who's really light skinned but still shows Africoid features belongs to us. What can add to the confusion is the fact that a darker skinned person with the same features is said not to be African, simply because he's from North Africa and (wrongly) considered to be an Arab.
The question which we have to ask ourselves and which I'm asking all of you is whether phenotype is the only or main characteristic with which we can identify people of African descent. As I've said before Africa is a diverse continent and its people - both continental and from the diaspora - have been through a lot. Especially in the diaspora we can see a struggle for recognition, both within themselves and in society, An example of this is South America with its afrolatinos. What we see here is a battle for survival and a strong awareness of their Africanness. Even in Argentina, where people of African descent were thought to have been completely assimilated there is a (rising?) level of awareness:
The above leads me to conclude that phenotype cannot be the main characteristic by which we define ourselves( which would be fairly simplistic, reality is often more complicated), what is far more important is the presence of an African spirit, to take pride in and take knowledge of our heritage, the realization that we're great and diverse people, the willingness to connect to and improve the African community and being centered in our Africanness.
However many holy words you read, however many you speak, what good will they do you if you do not act on upon them?
Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it.
"The price of freedom is death."
"The power to define is the most important power we have. He is master who can define."