The Amazigh Voice, June 1995
Tafsut Imazighen Commemoration around the World


To Commemorate the fifteenth Anniversary of Tafsut n Imazighen, the Amazigh Spring, tens of thousands marched in Algeria.


The fifteenth anniversary of the Amazigh Spring, April 20th, 1980, was marked by two demonstrations in Tizi Wezzu and Bgayet. Tens of thousands of people took part in the two events to support the institution of Tamazight as an official language of Algeria. According to the organizers of the Amazigh Cultural Movement (MCB), more than 150,000 people marched in Tizi Wezzu alone.

Responding to the call made by the MCB, the demonstrators in Tizi Wezzu demanded that the government officially recognize Tamazight. In Bgayet, 150 miles East of Algiers, tens of thousands marched in the streets, shouting "Tamazight in schools." Thousands of marchers had come from the Amazigh speaking villages of Setif, 50 miles South-East of Bgayet, such as Bousselam, Ait Ourtilane and Ait Yala.

Matoub Lounes, the Amazigh singer who was kidnapped for 15 days by the GIA, the Armed Islamic Group, last September, performed in Tizi Wezzu on Thursday April 20th and in Bgayet the day after. Although the GIA had forbidden him to sing, Matoub, who had lived the last six months in seclusion in Paris, went to Algeria to specifically take part in the commemoration of the Amazigh Spring. Thousands of fans had taken over the stadium field early in the morning.

In addition, the call for a general strike made by the MCB was largely followed in the main towns of Tizi Wezzu and Bgayet and in other cities such as Bouira, 60 miles east of Algiers. In these towns, the shops, the banks and administration offices were all closed.


In contrast, according to the newspaper El Watan, the march in the Capital city, Algiers, was savagely reprimanded by the security forces who attacked the demonstrators with clubs, injuring ten Amazigh militants and arresting twenty more. Earlier in the day, police forces tried to prevent the Amazigh militants from gathering. Several police vans had parked near "Place du 1er Mai" in downtown Algiers, the starting point of the March called by the MCB. Several policemen armed with clubs had prevented any gathering and had driven away people waiting at bus stops.


In the Aures region, throughout the fall and the spring, a multitude of cultural and scientific activities were organized by several associations (Thurza of Ain Fekroun, Tkout, Massinissa, and Ighzer Amellal of Batna, Ain Kercha and Thawmet of Oum El Bouaghi, and Numidya of Biskra) in collaboration with the MCA, the Amazigh Cultural Movement of Aures. These activities included conferences and seminars to increase the identity awareness of the Chaoui population, festivals, exhibitions (Foire nationale du livre Amazigh), and demonstrations in support of the Amazigh revendications. Also, these associations have signed declarations in which they denounced the alienation of the Amazigh militants by the government through its maneuvers of intimidation and division. The associations also offered total and unconditional support to the MCB.


In France, several associations teamed up to commemorate together Tafsut n Imazighen.


In Paris, the Association de Culture Berbere (ACB) organized an awareness day. Included in the program were an exhibition of books and articles pertaining to the event and several conferences to discuss the school boycott, teaching of Tamazight, MCB, revendication issue, and the political parties.


In Grenoble, six associations organized a three-day commemoration with the following activities:

On April 22nd, ACAA commemorated Tafsut n Imazighen by "celebrating Literature and Poetry." The commemoration of the east coast region took place in Washington D.C and that of the west coast in Palo Alto, California. The two events were attended by more than two hundred and fifty members and guests and lasted from 3:00 PM to 1:00 AM. More than an hour of poetry reading enabled many members and guests to read poems by well-known Amazigh poets or their own. This was intended to answer the wishes of the late great Amazigh scholar Mouloud Mammeri (known to Imazighen as Dda Lmulud) who wanted Imazighen all over the world to read and write in Tamazight. Nowadays, many do write poetry in Tamazight and read it aloud. With this commemoration, ACAA expressed thanks to Dda Lmulud for all his contributions to the Amazigh culture, in general, and poetry, in particular.

Washington DC

The highlights of the event included:


The California event included the following activities: The event ended with a fundraiser to purchase a sound system. ACAA would like to thank all the people who made these two events possible. Special thanks go to DJ Chaab i Sabah (known as Serge) with the "Majun Traveler" at KPFA radio, Mary Miller at KZSU radio, Barbara with the African Hotline, and Henri-Pierre Koubaka and Dore Stein of KALW radio.