Unknown protagonists silenced by official sources, the Berbers (or Imazighen, as they prefer to be known) are the group of peoples who since ancient times occupied almost all of North Africa, from the Siwa oasis (west of Egypt) to the Atlantic Ocean, including the Canary Islands, and from the Mediterranean to the south border of the Sahara.
Throughout history they have gone by many other names (Mauri, Libu, Numidians, Gaetuli, Garamantes…) reflecting their internal, geographical, and cultural plurality.
The Imazighen have witnessed numerous migrations, colonisations, and invasions. All have enriched their identity, while reducing their population through assimilationist policies.
However, the Berbers survive. It is calculated that there are currently over 35 million Berber, 20 million in Morocco, while the European and American diaspora account for several million
The Amazigh identity or identities are today reflected above all in their language, TAMAZIGHT, in its different variations (Tarifit. Tashelhit, Tamahaq…). It is also reflected in their awareness of sharing a common legacy of traditions, celebrations, and customs, and finally in their willingness to accept this legacy as their own.
From the late 11th century, major dynasties from North Africa such as the Almoravid (lamțūna) and then the Almohad (masmuda) tried to reunify the Islamic West, reinterpreting Is lam and homogenising and highlighting the Amazigh language ge and culture which became driving forces for Islamisation. However, the influence of the Imazighen did not end there.
At the height of the hegemony of the feudal kingdoms, from the 13th century, a new power came into play, the Marinids. The ties between this emirate with its seat in Fez and that of the Nasrid in Granada were solid, with mutual influences and extensive exchanges. This can be observed in the Alhambra and the major institutional constructions (madrasa, maristan, gates…) but also in everyday ceramic goods. It has even been argued that a Maghrebisation took place in Granada.
The exotic dramatic quality of Arabic decoration is extraordinary. A means of escape from the industrialised western decoration so overly confused as to what it aims to aspire to in terms of luxury and the limitation of its resources to serialised, repetitive and angular constructions offering furnishings with laboratory materials resulting in simply pale imitations of the past.
Nature, colour, constructive sets, exquisite materials, engaging ambiences, etc. all of these attract us the decoration projected through magazines as samples of a new luxury concept.
However, is Arabic decoration truly Arabic? Contemporary Arabic culture does not offer, except on rare occasions, any of these aesthetic principles. Even its aspiration is to foolishly mock western standards adding a further over-top-touch, ostentatiousness and bad taste.
In truth that sample of an aesthetic universe based on traditional Arabic culture has been recreated by western foreigners (refined and well-to-do foreign with new horizons free from the inherent atavisms of the west).
Even the recovery of traditional trade, handicrafts and pieces form part of this trend. There is still room for many unanswered questions on philosophical, political, anthropological and religious grounds, although there is plenty of time for them to be asked. The idea has been thrust forward; Arabic decoration is in fact European decoration.
It is worthwhile underlining that this is no way conditions the enjoyment and delight we take from a truly fascinating decorative model that is destined to make us reconsider interior design in the west.
The World Sacred Music Festival in Fez was first held in 1994 by Mohammed Kabbaj and Faouzi Skali as a response to the first Gulf War in 1991.
This festival aims to show spirituality through music and, in general, the creation of a peaceful culture that fosters a diverse globalization and respects the ethical, spiritual and universal harmony values.
In 2001 the festival was awarded by the UN as one of the events that has most contributed to an understanding among civilizations and is listed among the 12 most important events for the promotion of peace.
This festival takes place every year in early June in one of the most important and monumental environments of the city of Fez in Morocco; and evenings are famous due to performances taken place by many artists coming from all corners of the world and different cultures.
The festival is managed by Fondation Esprit de Fès. In USA the organization Spirit of Fes Inc., organizes every two years a Festival program and Fès Forum in several American cities.