Happy Imazighn New Year
Today is New Year's Day in the Berber (Imazighn) calendar, and there are celebrations in Agadir, Tiznit and other majority Berber areas of Morocco. The presence of Berbers in Morocco predates the Arab/Muslim invasion of the country by eight centuries. Around three-quarters of Morocco's 30 million population are of Berber descent and the number of Berber speakers, either as a first language or bilingually with an Arab dialect, is estimated to be around 10 million. The Berbers mix observance of saintly and animistic cults with more orthodox Islam in a syncretic tradition known as Maraboutic Islam. My photo shows our Berber friend Hassan who has featured in several Overgrown Path posts. Hassan is an ace surfer from the Berber village of Tamraght, which is the surfing capital of Africa. I first met Hassan some years ago when he looked after me while I was sea kayaking in the big surf of Morocco's Atlantic coast. Back then Hassan was living in a hut on the beach with fishermen friends. He went on to become a respected surf instructor, and has just become a co-founder of Shaka Surf Morocco. Hassan spends his days on the beach in the region's year-round sunshine and his evenings and most of his nights partying with his clients who include many attractive young ladies. In my next incarnation I hope to come back as a surf instructor in Morocco.
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