Kabyle people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Kabyle people
Total population
c. 5.5 to 6 million e[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Algeriac. 5.5 million e[1]
 Europec. 1 million e[1]
Kabyle (native), Algerian Arabic and French (as a result of immigration or language shift)
Sunni Islam, Roman Catholic, Protestantism.
Jump to: navigation, search
Kabyle people
Total population
c. 5.5 to 6 million e[1]
Regions with significant populations
 Algeriac. 5.5 million e[1]
 Europec. 1 million e[1]
Kabyle (native), Algerian Arabic and French (as a result of immigration or language shift)
Sunni Islam, Roman Catholic, Protestantism.

The Kabyle people (Kabyle: Iqvayliyen) are a Berber ethnic group native to Kabylie (or Kabylia) in the north of Algeria, one hundred miles east of Algiers. They represent the largest Berber-speaking population of Algeria and the second largest in Africa. Emigration, influenced by factors such as the French conquest of Algeria, deportation, and latterly industrial decline and unemployment, resulted in Kabyle people being found throughout the world. Large populations of Kabyle people settled in France and, to a lesser extent, Canada.

Kabyles speak the Kabyle language and, since the Berber Spring of 1980, have been at the forefront of the fight for the official recognition of Berber languages in Algeria.


Lalla Fatma N'Soumer, of Tariqa, led the resistance against French colonization 1851-57.

The Kabyle were relatively independent of outside control during the period of Ottoman rule in North Africa, and lived primarily in three different kingdoms: the Kingdom of Kuku, the Kingdom of Ait Abbas, and the principality of Aït Jubar.[2] The area was gradually taken over by the French beginning in 1857, despite vigorous resistance by the population led by leaders such as Lalla Fatma n Soumer, continuing as late as Mokrani's rebellion in 1871.

French officials confiscated much land from the more recalcitrant tribes and granted it to colonists, known as pieds-noirs. The French carried out many arrests and deportations of resisters, mainly to New Caledonia (see: "Algerians of the Pacific"). Due to French colonization, many Kabyle emigrated into other areas inside and outside Algeria.[3]

In the 1920s, Algerian immigrant workers in France organized the first party promoting independence. Messali Hadj, Imache Amar, Si Djilani, and Belkacem Radjef rapidly built a strong following throughout France and Algeria in the 1930s; they developed militants who became vital to the fighting and an independent Algeria.

During the war of independence (1954–1962), Kabylie was the area of much fighting due to the maquis, whose resistance was aided by the mountainous terrain, and catalyzed by French oppression. The armed Algerian revolutionary resistance to French colonialism, the National Liberation Front (FLN), recruited several of its leaders there, including Hocine Aït Ahmed, Abane Ramdane, and Krim Belkacem.

Since the independence of Algeria, tensions have arisen between Kabylie and the central government on several occasions. In 1963 the FFS party of Hocine Aït Ahmed contested the authority of the FLN, which promoted itself as the only party.

In 1980, protesters mounted several months of demonstrations in Kabylie demanding the recognition of Berber as an official language; this period has been called the Berber Spring. The politics of identity intensified during the 1990s as the regime initiated Arabization due to growing Islamist power. In 1994–1995, a school boycott occurred, termed the "strike of the school bag". In June and July 1998, there were violent protests after the assassination of singer Matoub Lounes and the law requiring use of the Arabic language in all fields.

In the months following April 2001 (called the Black Spring), major riots — together with the emergence of the Arouch, neo-traditional local councils, followed the killing of Masinissa Guermah, a young Kabyle, by gendarmes. These gradually decreased after the Kabyle won some concessions from President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.


The geography of the Kabyle region played an important role in Kabyle history. The difficult mountainous landscape of the Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia Provinces served as a refuge, to which most of the Kabyle people retreated, thus preserving their cultural heritage from other cultural influences, such as romans, Arabs and French.

The Djurdjura chain


Algerian provinces with significant Kabyle-speaking populations includes : Tizi Ouzou and Béjaïa where they represent the majority , as well as Bouira, Boumerdes , Setif , Bordj Bou Arreridj , Jijel . Other provinces with a significant Kabyle population includes Algiers .

The Kabyle region is referred to as Al Qabayel ("tribes") by the Arabic-speaking population and as Kabylie in French, but its inhabitants call it Tamurt Idurar ("Land of Mountains") or Tamurt n Iqvayliyen/Tamurt n Iqbayliyen ("Land of the Kabyles"). It is part of the Atlas Mountains and is located at the edge of the Mediterranean.

Culture and society


The language used by the Kabyles is Kabyle, a Berber language of the Afro-Asiatic (formerly Hamito-Semitic) family. Algerian Arabic and French and to a lesser degree English are also spoken as second or third languages.

During first centuries of their history, Kabyles used Tifinagh writing system, but since the beginning of the 19th century, and under French influence, Kabyle intellectuals began to use the Latin script. It gave the modern Berber latin alphabet.

After the independence of Algeria, some Kabyle activists tried to revive old Tifinagh alphabet. This new version of Tifinagh has been called Neo-Tifinagh, but its use remains limited to logos. Kabyle literature continued to be written in the Latin script.


The Kabyle people are mainly Muslim, with some Christians divided among Roman Catholics and Protestants. Some Catholic Kabyles moved to France during and after Algerian independence as pied-noirs. Recently, the Protestant community has experienced significant growth, particularly among Evangelical denominations.[5]

Since the 19th century, there has been a large nominal Sunni Muslim community.[6] Among Kabyle Muslims, the main tradition is Maraboutism,.[7] Many Zaouia exist all over the region, the Rahmaniyya is the most prolific.


The traditional economy of the area is based on arboriculture (orchards, olive trees) and on the craft industry (tapestry or pottery). Mountain and hill farming is gradually giving way to local industry (textile and agro-alimentary). In the middle of the 20th century, with the influence and help of the Kabyle diaspora, many industries started to change the economic face of the region, which is today the second most important in the country after Algiers.[citation needed]


Kabyle are among the fiercest activists in the cause of Berber (Amazigh) identity, though a three-way split exists: there are those Kabyles who see themselves as part of a larger Berber nation (Berberists), those who view themselves as part the Algerian nation (known as "Algerianists", some of these also view Algeria as an essentially Berber nation) and those who view Kabyles as a nation separate from (but akin to) other Berber peoples (known as Kabylists).


For historical and economic reasons, many Kabyles have emigrated to France, where they number about 1.5 million.[9][10] Many notable French people are of full or partial Kabyle descent, such as Zinedine Zidane, Karim Benzema, Marcel Mouloudji, Dany Boon, Jacques Villeret, Daniel Prévost, Marie-José Nat, Isabelle Adjani, Alain Bashung etc.

Genetics and physical anthropology

Kabyles have traces of blondism, as in other Berbers groups. However, they are not all ethnically homogeneous. Those with major Nordic contributions are pinkish-white skinned with mixed or light eyes; the rest are of Mediterranean (mainly of classic Mediterranean) or Iberid subtype [14]

Carleton S. Coon in his The Races of Europe (1939) classified Kabyle Berbers as "largely Mediterranean with a major Nordic contribution".[15]

Basic map of the Germanic migrations in the Late Roman period, showing the Vandals progress into North Africa and beyond.

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c "Kabyles around the world". Retrieved July 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ E. J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Volume 4, publié par M. Th. Houtsma, Page: 600
  3. ^ Bélaïd Abane, L'Algérie en guerre: Abane Ramdane et les fusils de la rébellion, p. 74
  4. ^ Le Djurdjura à travers l'histoire by Ammar ou Said Boulifa 1925
  5. ^ Lucien Oulahbib, Le monde arabe existe-t-il ?, page 12, 2005, Editions de Paris, Paris.
  6. ^ Abdelmadjid Hannoum, Violent modernity: France in Algeria, Page 124, 2010, Harvard Center for Middle Eastern studies, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  7. ^ Amar Boulifa, Le Djurdjura à travers l'histoire depuis l'Antiquité jusqu'en 1830 : organisation et indépendance des Zouaoua (Grande Kabylie), Page 197, 1925, Algiers.
  8. ^ www. kabylia-gov.org
  9. ^ Salem Chaker, Pour une histoire sociale du berbère en France, Les Actes du Colloque Paris - Inalco, Octobre 2004
  10. ^ James Minahan, Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: D-K, Good Publishing Group, 2002, p.863. Quote: "Outside North Africa, the largest Kabyle community, numbering around 1.5 million, is in France."
  11. ^ Adams et al. 2008, The genetic legacy of religious diversity and intolerance: paternal lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula
  12. ^ Arredi B, Poloni ES, Paracchini S, Zerjal T, Fathallah DM, Makrelouf M, Pascali VL, Novelletto A, Tyler-Smith C. (2004). "A Predominantly Neolithic Origin for Y-Chromosomal DNA Variation in North Africa". Am J Hum Genet. 75 (2): 338–345. doi:10.1086/423147. PMC 1216069. PMID 15202071. 
  13. ^ Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald Neal Yates. When Scotland Was Jewish: DNA Evidence, Archeology, Analysis of Migrations ... (quot: Haplogroup J is found at highest frequencies in Middle Eastern and North African). p. 32. Retrieved August 5, 2012. 
  14. ^ Coon, Carleton Stevens (1939). "The Mediterranean World". The Races of Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 480–482. OCLC 575541610. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Coon, Carleton Stevens (1939). "The Mediterranean World". The Races of Europe. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 476–479. OCLC 575541610. "The mountain agriculturalists are best represented by two groups of tribes: the Shawia [sic] and the Kabyles, the former living in the Aures Mountains south of Constantine Province, and the latter in the coastal Djurjura [sic] immediately east of the city of Algiers. Both of these Berber groups are noted for their European-like features and fair skins; blondism of a high order is frequently attributed to them in the non-statistical literature.
    The notable fact about the Shawia is that, in a metrical sense, they are identical with northwestern European Nordics. One could substitute the means of the Shawia sample of Randall-MacIver and Wilkin for those of a characteristic eastern Norwegian province without serious discrepancy. The Kabyles of the Djurjura Mountains cover a considerable area, and probably vary regionally, as differences between various series would indicate. Some are very much like the Shawia, but those coming from the neighborhood of Tizi-Ouzou are shorter statured and smaller headed. They are, in fact, so constitued anthropometrically that they server as an example of a centrally placed early Mediterranean racial type, with certain modifications.
    The stature of this group is moderate (164.6 cm), the bodily proportions the same as those of the Shawia, and of most Nordics;
    On both anthropometric and somatoscopic grounds, one is led to the conclusion that the Kabyles represent a conglomerate survival of several of the more ancient North African racial elements; the major one is a central Mediterranean, with a slight negroid tendency or accretion; and this Mediterranean dates back to the days of Early Neolithic agriculture in North Africa. With it also survive traces of the Afalou men, whom we shall see in greater strenght farther west, and some of whom show a tendency to brachycephaly; and of Nordics, whenever and however they may have appeared in North Africa."

External links