Agrawli’s Blog

January 12, 2011

North-Africa Celebrates Yennayer 2961

Filed under: TAMAZIGHT — Sabri @ 12:00 pm

Let us first mention how some scholar sexplain the inception of the Amazigh calendar.  According to them, the origin of Yennayer refers to the first mention of Amazigh people in historical records: the founding by Amazigh Pharaoh Sheshonq I of the 22nd pharaonic dynasty in 958 BC, followed by the 23rd and 24th Amazigh pharaonic dynasties, over 200 years (958 BC-712 BC) of Amazigh rule in ancient Egypt. According to the ancient Egyptian historian Manetho (3rd century BC) and archeological records, Amazigh Pharaonic dynasties brought back stability to Egypt by reunifying it and defending it against foreign invasions from the East.

In summary, Yennayer 2961 that we celebrate this year commemorates the first mention of the Amazigh people in history. Significantly, it refers to Imazighen as the contributors to the glorious civilization of Egyptians. 13 January corresponds to the end of armed conflict between Imazighen and the Egyptian pharaohs.

Here are some few traditions related to the celebration of Yennayer (on January 13th) in some parts of North-Africa as they had been described at the beginning of the twentieth century by some French ethnographers since our ancestors didn’t keep records of their practices and since these traditions are unfortunately in the process of disappearing if nobody act efficiently in order to save them.

The festivities are strictly a family affair involving specific dishes. Couscous with chicken is the predominant dish, which embodies the whole symbolism of the event. Nowadays, the celebration  -when it takes place- is limited to a special meal like, usually prepared in a household with elderly members or to a party usually initiated by young active members of Amazigh movements in urban societies where most of Amazigh people live today.

Yennayer should be an occasion to learn more about the cultural background of our ancestors, and to make every effort to transmit this heritage to the young generation that hardly speaks and cares about its significance.

Celebrating  Yennayer  could  also  be  a  step  to  affirm  a  fundamental  cultural  aspect  of  Imazighen,  and  furthermore  an  attempt  to  revise  or  reappraise  the  official  historiography.

SABRI EL HAMMAOUI

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