Tribute to Kabylian Women by Belkacem, Algeria – photo essay –

A tribute to older Kabylian women, pillars of tradition. The Kabyles are an ethnic subgroup of the Berber people, today still living in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. They are the oldest known people of Northern Africa.

The Kabyles speak a Berber dialect, Taqbaylit, which is a language without script. Since eternity, knowledge has been passed on orally from parent to child via everyday practical applications.

It is very interesting to note that the word Taqbaylit means “woman” as well as “Kabyle language”. It is the mothers who teach their children, starting at birth, to speak this language. Thanks to the mothers, the language of communication in the villages is still Taqbaylit, in spite of the fact that first French, and since 1962, Arabic has been the language taught at school.

In fact, the Kabyle society is incapable of functioning without the elder women, who have ensured its spiritual unity. The women’s magic is expressed in every domain of their daily lives: pottery making, food provision, preparation, weaving and transporting herbs to feed herds of sheep or cows. They  also they reunite once the work is over to talk about their daily life. A woman is seen as the central pillar of the house. 

It is the Kabyle woman who protects her honor and her personality in spite of what she endures as as pain and happiness.

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