A Berber By Any Other Name

One thing I have learned about Berber culture is that everything has a significance. Every single thing. Nothing is left to chance. I am wearing a pendant that represents the Z from the ancient Berber alphabet called Tifinagh. It represents a free man. (Earlier today while walking through the Medina in Marrakech we took a wrong turn into a dead end and a nice man explained it was a former slave trade square, now a second hand market). My earrings are Tuareg compass’ used by the Tuareg tribe to navigate in the Sahara. More on them later. Every marking on every building represents something. Sometimes three religions (Islam, Judaism, Christianity) or the three tribes of the Sahara.

Names are very significant as well. This may also apply to the Arabic culture but I’m not writing about the Arabic culture, so……

So, let’s talk about a few names.

Berbers have two names. No middle names. None of these 14 names like some crazy Christians : Betty Sue Katherine Patricia Lake Brown Jackson. None of that shit. Two names. First and last. The children always take the name of the father as their surname. The women always retain their family name. I like that.

Mohammed is the Prophet of course. There are many of them. Mustapha is the other name of the Prophet, another name for Mohammed. I like that too. (It’s also why we started calling Mustapha “The Prophet”). I also found that there are 99 names for Allah in the form of Abdul..something. Some go by Abdul, like Abdul Nour (Which means the light) (They all have meaning and they all know the meaning of their name). (I have no idea what Kathryn means). There is Abduljamal, or Jamal. Also Adbulaziz, (Aziz). It goes on and on. Most people are either Mohammed, Mustapha or one of the 99 Abdul’s. Also there are really nice (dare I say pretty?) names like Hassan, Khalid, Yahya (watch the sibilant) (In English it means John). And the list goes on. I find the Berber mens names to be melodic and beautiful. Like Berber men. And I also find them hard to say because of the whole sibilance thing. (Google it) But I am learning and getting better at it. I don’t intend to stop learning but it will be harder to practice now. Being in Canada.

The best part about names of men in Berber culture is the naming process. Some of the interested parties write their choice of name on a paper. By interested I mean, each parent and some grandparents or other family members. Then one of the children chooses the name and that is the final word. Why is it done this way? Because you are meant to be named by the angels.

So lovely.

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