Morocco is a multi-ethnic country, and throughout its history the land of the moors has hosted many people from both the East and the West. All their civilizations have had an impact on the social structure of Moroccan villages. I will try to focus on the features of the Moroccan village by studying the features of my own Amazigh (Bedrber) village and showing how it is structured in term of people, space, and power.
The countryside of Morocco is organized into tribes or Takbilte, which is the main social unit in a Moroccan village. The tribe is generally led by an elected council called the Imzura or Inghramen. Although villages to not hold modern-style elections, all most tribes are represented in the council, which stands as the executive committee that manages daily matters in the village. In addition to the tribe, the tribal leader or Amghar plays a pivotal role in dealing with inter-family problems. His power derives from his people, and he is referred to as Tamghart (literally: "authority"). All the people of the tribe respect the power of the elected council and tribal leader whose main functions are keeping peace in the village and establishing rules related to the village and its agricultural activities.
The village is generally built upon a hill or at the top of a mountain for specific reasons: to defend the village from its enemies or to protect it from natural forces, mainly rain and snow. People prefer to build at the top of mountain to save space for the farming. Villages are surrounded by protective walls, and some old cities in Morocco, such as Marrakesh or Taroudante, still have them. My village has two main gates and labyrinthine streets. While going through the village, you will find places in which the tribe enjoys perfromances of dancers and singers. To sum up, the village space is well organized.
One more element in the village is "the guest house" or "Tigmi n Taqbilte" -- literally, "the house of the tribe" -- which serves as a shelter for traders, travelers, beggars and other people coming from different places who stay there overnight while one member of the village volunteers to invite them for dinner or lunch.
As the guest house shows, my Amazigh village reflects the culture and history of its people.
Last modified: 21 May 2003