With an eleven-day difference on the Gregorian calendar, the Imazighene, the Berbers, celebrate the transition to the New Year on January 12th.
This tradition, which still lives in North Africa, goes a long way back in berber history. And despite all that has been done for fourteen centuries to erase everything that characterizes the Berbers in North Africa, the celebration of Yennayer “IXF Useggwas n” is one of the traditions that still manages to resist the Arab hegemony culture. The celebration of this date was primarily a private celebration. Everything that was before-Islamic was forbidden, yes even the word “berber”! But after the Kabylian insurgency in 1980, Berber activists have taken this celebration into the public space. Only in 1980 at the University of Tizi-Ouzou and in upper secondary schools in Kabylia. Then, from 1990 it was celebrated in all villages of Kabylia. Around 1990, the Moroccan Berber movement, in turn, took this day, Yennayer as a public event in Morocco. The Berber diaspora (Berbere in foreigner), through its associations, especially in France and Canada, holds this fine tradition. Yennayer has become one of the highlights of the activities of all these associations.
But this year’s Yennayer is going to be special. Algeria is determined to sabotage this event and has transported Muslim extremists by bus from all over Algeria to Kabylia with the message of using violence against the peaceful Kabyles.
Today, my thoughts go out to all Berbers suffering in Arabic prisons.