Who Are the Indigenous People of North Africa? (Part 1)

Amazigh flag: The blue symbolizes the Mediterrenean sea, the green is the Atlas mountains, the yellow is the Sahara desert and the center symbol symbolizes the free man.

Hi! I have decided to write this MyTake for multiple reasons:

- First, it’s to shed some light on the indigenous people of North Africa since not many people know about us. Indeed, I have already been asked “You’re African, how aren’t you black?” in my DM’s here on GaG.

- But I have also came across many Afrocentrists online who share historical fallacies about ancient North Africans and North African personalities, and as someone who is passionate about ancient history and antiquity, it bothers me because it feels like those afrocenstrists are stripping us modern North Africans from our ancestry and history by claiming it as their own (they claim that Ancient North Africans look more like them, than they look like us Modern day North Africans).

- And last but not least, it’s to tackle the fact that Americans tend to have a dichotomic view on this matter, it appears that they believe that every white skinned person is European, and every dark skinned person is Subsaharian.

North Africans/Amazighs are their own ethnic group, on average, they are neither Black, nor White nor Arab (semetic). On average, we are brown Caucasians. Darker than Europeans but lighter than most Indians, most Native Americans and obviously Sub-Saharian Africans.

1. North African indigenous people are called Amazigh (we prefer this term) or Berber

Depending on where you are in North Africa, those Berbers got mixed with different peoples, including Romans , Arabs, Spaniards, Phoenicians, Germanic, Sub Saharians and Ottoman/Turkish. Nonetheless, we are still mostly Berber despite our racial mixing and mosaic.
"Pure" berbers can still be found in some regions in the mountains of Morocco , Algeria and Tunisia.

2. A lot of us, including me, are in fact Arabized Berbers/Amazighs

Which means that we are genetically Berbers but adopted the Arabic language (just like how native Americans adopted the Spanish language).
But many of us still hold into their languages and didn't get Arabized ,especially in Morocco and Algeria (not so much in Tunisia).

3. Amazigh people are mostly concentrated in:

Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and to some extent in western Egypt and Mauritania, as-well as some nomadic tribes in the Sahara.

4. There are different tribes of Amazigh people, who share different physical characteristics and genetics.

Amazigh people look very diverse and can go from the lightest to the darkest depending on:
-The tribe and region they come from (but variations also exist within the same tribes).
- The foreign peoples they eventually got mixed with, including Arabs, Southern Europeans and Blacks.

The different Amazigh peoples are linked by their languages that are part of the Tamazight language family, more than they are by their genes. In fact, Berbers at the south of Tunisia , Algeria and Morocco look quite different from more northern Berbers (they are more influenced by Sub-Saharan Africa than most modern day Algerians, Tunisians and Northern Moroccans).

5. Some berbers are black like the Tuareg people

The tuaregs are a nomadic people who live in the Sahara desert. Mostly in southern Algeria, southern Libya, Mali etc.

The Sahara Desert and Atlas mountains played an important role as a genetic and cultural barrier between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africans

The Sahara Desert and Atlas mountains played an important role as a genetic and cultural barrier between North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africans but the Tuaregs were the brave traveller of the Sahara Desert. They are a nomadic people and genetically an intermediary between darker sub-Saharan Africans at the south, and lighter caucasian Berbers at the north which explains their dark skin, but their more Caucasoid features compared to sub-Saharan Africans (they are semi Caucasian).

But when Afro-centrists claim our history (Moors and Carthaginians), they are claiming the history of the peoples who live in modern day Tunisia, Northern and Coastal Algeria + Morocco who weren’t black but were Olive-skinned Caucasians (Chaouis, Kabyles, Tunisian Berbers, Riffians etc...).

The Egyptians painted the North African "Libyans" (which meant the people to the West of them in North African) for example like this:

The order is: Berbers (or Libyans), Nubian, Levant People (where Phoenicia would be later in history), and Egypt.

5. Modern day north Africans don’t look much different from ancient north Africans:

Yes, this is how most ancient carthaginians (and Hannibal) looked like ^^^

Not like this (as Afro-centrists claim) :
The claim of afro centrists that North Africa was initially black but became white with European, Arab invasions and white slavery is completely wrong and far-fetched. Pure Berbers were never black/Sub Saharian.

If anything, they got darker from slavery after 700 AD and from the fact that some North African kingdoms most probably had darker Berbers and Africans fight for them in their armies, especially in Morocco (which is why they have more individuals with Sub-Saharian features than Algerians and Tunisians).

If anything, we got darker from slavery after 700 AD

Same could be said about Pheonician and Arab civilizations. Although Arabs and Phoenicians influenced, to a small extent the genetics of some North Africans, especially Tunisians, it’s important to note that there was never a mass immigration from the Levante to Carthage. A few merchants arrived and inter-married with the locals. As for the Arabs, they also intermarried with Berbers and never replaced the original inhabitants who are still to this day mostly Berber and not so different from the ancient population.

A reconstruction based on the body and DNA of an ancient Carthaginian man from Tunisia

6. Our origin is quite unknown.

But we know that Caucasian Berbers have been living in north Africa for at least 22 000 years.
Many different theories exist surrounding our origin. Some people claim a Eurasian ancestry from the East, or a levantine and Middle Eastern origin while some claim an east African ancestry. Others say that we moved back and forth between north Africa and the Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal).

7. A few examples of the different tribes and different looks of North Africans

- The Kabyles of North Algeria (known for being some of, if not the lightest Native North Africans).

- My Ethnicity, the Chaouis (Western Algeria and Eastern Tunisia)

- Chleuh (Morocco)

- Riffians (Northern Morocco)

- Berbers of the Tunisian Desert/South

8. Other samples from the Football teams of North African countries

Tunisian team

Algerian team

Moroccan team

Thank you for reading. I will do a Part 2 about famous Native North Africans!

Here is the Part 2: Some Notable Indigenous (Amazigh) North African Figures (Part 2)

ElissaDido is a GirlsAskGuys Editor
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Most Helpful Guy

  • I had an argument with a friend about this some time ago. He solemnly believed everyone from Africa was Sub-Saharan black. I had to explain to him that, no, North Africans are a completely different background in terms of genetics and culture. He still didn't believe me until I showed him what a Tunisian woman looked like.

    It's why "White" people are also considered to be North Africans and some from the middle east, not just Europeans.


Most Helpful Girl

  • Wonderful article, it reminds me of an old historical essay I had a few years ago, during the Culturology seminar on my University. Very educational, once again, fantastic MyTake 👍


Join the discussion

What Guys Said 19

  • cdn.shopify.com/.../thanks_large_large.jpg

    I would be waiting for Part 2. Interesting Take. 😊

  • Thank you for the excellent debunking of "Afrocentric" pseudo history. The peoples of North Africa were and are Mediterranean.

  • Fantastic explanation for those ignorant people who think that all Africans are black. Even ancient Egyptian paintings show that Egyptians were clearly lighter skinned, compared to their slaves from Nubia, long time before the Greeks, Romans and Arabs invaded Egypt: image.slidesharecdn.com/.../slide-12-1024.jpg

  • Anyone that looks at you and ask if you are black is a idiot. Your features and hair texture is no where close to that of a black person.

    Besides do these people even realize that Africa is a continent with over 40 countries?

  • Well it makes sense. These countries/tribes originated beside mediterranean. Civilizations usually sprung up beside rivers. Climate isn't that drastically different in either side of mediterranean. Personally when I thought of Hannibal go fight Romans I imagined somebody that would be similar to people in Tunisia today.

  • I have posted this before and I will post this again. You cannot decide what the cultural bond between Africans from North, South, East or West. If you don't feel you have any thing in common culturally with "Black" people, then speak for you. If you know a certain group, then speak for that group. But don't claim to speak for people who do not agree with you.

    I have known several ladies from North Africa. I used to date a lady from Morocco. You don't decide whether or not we have a cultural connection we decide that.

    "This short article is dedicated for all the Africans that said I’m not African and all the Arabs who said I’m not Arab.

    The question of the Moroccan identity seems to be a debate that I always have to explain whenever I travel, especially when I meet some of my Africans and Arabs fellows, so Africans would ask me “where are you from?”, me” Morocco”, them: “Ah, you are an Arab who don’t admit the African origins”, then Arabs ask the same and then say “Oh you are the ones who don’t speak Arabic only French”. I’m not saying all the Africans and Arabs think the same way, but these answers and questions I’ve heard from many of them. Then I had to explain that Moroccan identity is mixed between the Arab, African and Amazighi culture, which make Morocco one of most diverse countries, with different languages, ethnics, cultures… But for some it seems not easy to understand."



    • It’s not about admitting or not admitting, it’s about facts. You can clearly see the cultural and physical differences between north Africans and subsahran Africans. You are talking about the exceptions which are some Moroccans who most likely come from southern Morocco and/or have some black in them.
      North Africans are Africans it’s not the point of myTake and I’m not even disputing this, everyone knows this, but North Africans are THEIR OWN PEOPLE who have their OWN CULTURE and LOOKS that is distinct from both Black Sub Saharians and White Europeans. And North Africans are Caucasians.

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    • "Let me explain something to you. I am not a racist."

      Like hell you are not, Hotep.

    • @Curmudgeon Why do you racist weirdos always project on to people who are not racist?

      There is only one race. It is called "Human". Seeing humankind as one big family is called being "unracist". I will never claim that racial differences are real. And I will never claim that one supposed racial group is better than another. Nor will I be a friend to such a creature.

      Now you can spin that until the end of time. But if you consider that to be racist. . . then quite simply, you are not playing with a full deck.

  • We waz kangs theory got blown to bits once they did DNA tests on mummies. Turkish and various European descendents...

    Oh well... place "American" after the prior identifier (African) and IQ scores go up about 10 points... as well as their genetics mixed with Europeans. I hate to be racial but it is what it is... I don't expect a golden retriever to behave like a chiwawa and the same goes for humans.

    Bottom line... differences exist, and it's time we work around it instead of trying to ignore it away. Otherwise the first 48 wouldn't be filled with just one group of peoples.

  • Amazing Take, and excellent info about history of North Africa, keep it up ;)

  • Good take but WHY that obsession about black or not black?

    • Well, the poster has some deep issues. She has always claimed to speak for all North Africans. I am sure many don't recognize any cultural connection to as she puts it. . ."Black" Africans. But many do. I am posting my response.

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    • Oh, Jacques, I get that. The disease was created in America and because America has had such an effect on world culture many people have adopted it. Throughout this conversation, people have gotten confused over "Black" and African. African is African, I could give a flip about what color it is. Now, if you want to say you are not African-related, that's on you. But to claim a relationship based on skin color means you are a beer short of a six pack.

      I mean you can do it. But claim it for what it is. . . raciology. People who believe in skin color culture are beyond help. But you and I are kind of old hacks at this game. Racists were always confused about human differences. When they say "race", we just fix the equation for them. We substitute culture. They just think someone's skin color affects their behavior or beliefs. And what is even more weird, they think non-"White" groups believe in their weird definition of race.

    • I just want to add the explanation of "White" and "Black" and why they are in quotes. "White" people. . . my working definition is simply the folks who they they are "White". "Black" people are African-Americans.

      You and I know why that is. Because Norwegians don't refer to themselves as "White". They refer to themselves as Norwegians. My fiancee does not refer to herself as "White", she says she is Austrian. My best friend was married to a Polish woman. She never identified as being "White" one day in her life.

      And our friend who started this MyTake claims that culture cannot transcend race. I don't know if she has been under a rock for her whole existence or what.

      Well, she should read about Soledad O'Brien at "Black" Enterprise



  • Interesting. So basically, unlike South Africa, which turned "white" by force some years ago, you are white with all your ancestry.

    • 3 out of 4 South Africans are still "black", so I don't think they quite succeeded.

  • Its good to see that there are people who are against the revisionism of African history. by the way, you look totally Amazingh ;)

  • Interesting post, it probably won't be taken well because of political correctness. What are your thoughts on Egypt? How are you doing by the way, we haven't talked in a while :P

  • Here we go lol
    We're all just the same. All born on planet earth. This place is too small to feel different from one another

    But I see many cute girls here lol ill take 2 please
    Thanks 😝

  • Who are the indigenous people of North Africa? The most racially, culturally, ethnically mixed demography in Africa, easy as that.

    Afrocentrist are no different from eurocentrist who claim all Africans are black, and all Europeans are white.

    Call it North Africa, call it Southern Europe, both have a history in
    common, and they have been connect for thousands of years. In other words, yes, many North Africans are mixed, not only with Arabs abd southern Europeans, they are mixed with with the rest of the African population, much more long ago than you said.

    • So Elissa, by definition you are mixed as a coctail can be. You have native North African, and the rest of Africa in you. Also you are part Arab and probably southern European.

  • The Y-haplogroup (paternal lineage) is an important part of human genetics. It not only reveals migration patterns of ethnic groups but also the social dynamics associated with it, such as conquest and power. Generally speaking, when a people are conquered by another ethnic group, the male conquerors insert themselves at the top of the mating pecking order. This is usually accomplished through rape, sexual coercion, the exclusion of men from the indigenous population (aka killing them), the hoarding of resources, the wielding of political power or a good PR/propaganda program (aka 'we are the best thing since sliced bread).

    The most common paternal lineage (Y-haplogroup) in North Africa is E-M183 (E-M81). It is both so prevalent and specific in North Africa that it is referred to as the 'Berber Marker'. So, it essentially distinguishes Berber people from other populations.

    A research paper was done exploring it's time-frame of origin:
    'Whole Y-chromosome sequences reveal an extremely recent origin of the most common North African paternal lineage E-M183 (M81)'
    Posted in: nature. com/articles/s41598-017-16271-y

    It concluded that it spread throughout North Africa during two possible points in history.
    1) From the Near-East during the Islamic Expansion in the 7th Century (approximately 1300 years ago)
    2) At the end of the third Punic War (146 BCE), when Carthage (in current Tunisia) was defeated and destroyed, which marked the beginning of Roman dominance of the Mediterranean Area.

    Either of these two time events calls into question the indigenous nature of the current Berber peoples to North Africa. Both of these events represent a conquest by an outside group of people. So if they were defeated by a different ethnic group of people in both cases, how is it that 'Berber men' were proliferating more afterwards than before the conquests? If anything the paternal 'Berber marker' should have had a sharp decrease. As I have stated earlier, the mating pecking order changes after a conquest, and the indigenous males are often subjugated.

    Therefore, the research reveals a fairly recent origin of the paternal 'Berber marker' that is associated with current modern-day Berber populations. And given the evidence, to say that 'Pure Berbers' are not so different from the ancient population is erroneous at best.

  • "got mixed with different peoples"
    You left off the Greeks and the Jews, and are you including the Vandals and the Alans as Germanic?

  • That flag reminds me of the flag of the Central African Republic.

  • Fascinating.


What Girls Said 6

  • Exactly, outstanding mytake, with great points. Amazigh people (Berbers, Moors, Tuaregs etc) are not black Africans, nor Arabs, though, lots of them speak Arabic, because of the Arabic invasion and centuries of Arabization. The same thing happened to ancient Egyptians, mostly because they adopted Arabic culture along with Islam. Regardless of that, some of them still speak Berber languages, just like Egyptian Orthodox christians speak Coptic, which belongs to Hamitic language family (same like Berber languages and dialects).
    Unlike them, Phoenicians were Semitic, but obviously different from Arabs and Hebrews. Modern Phoenician national movement exists in their homeland - Lebanon (ancient Phoenicia). From there, they were spreading their influence by trading in all three "old world" continents (Asia, Europe and Africa). Of course, Carthage in present Tunisia was their most famous colony.
    Congrats, this is one of the best mytakes on the GaG :) ✌

  • I'm Tunisian and when i try to explain to pple I'm from north Africa they tell me u don't look black lol

    • Ayyy fellow tunisian
      At least you didn't come across people who told you that you are the product of White and Arab people raping native black North Africans haha

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    • Yes (soussa) I think all mediocre minds think the same lol

    • Nice! I love Soussa!

  • This is one of the best MyTakes ever. I know some Tunisians and they are gorgeous both the guys and the girls. Friendly people too, we had a family from there move into my hood years ago. They always cooked the best food ever.

  • very informative

  • You did not mention a lot from Libya: pictures & info. Many times when I see anything relate to the Maghreb, I notice that Libya gets forgotten? Anyway... I'm from Morocco. We certainly share similar backgrounds to other Maghreb nations. We share similar food, similar traditional clothing, similar ethnic groups, same language, same religion, and same culture, but that doesn't mean a thing! It's only ancient history after all, and what matters is the present and not the past. Ancient history is all about the birth of ethnic groups, country's religion, culture... etc. The present is about important matters like politics, economy, and a country's overall stability. In this day and age, unfortunately Morocco's position in the Maghreb is very weak. I don't care about the other North African countries, I naturally only care about mine. I never will understand why hasn't Morocco remove itself from the Arab Maghreb Union since a while ago. It is in fact the worst union in the world. northafricapost.com/...g-demise-maghreb-union.html
    www.eurasiareview.com/.../ Morocco keeps suffering from Algerian supremacy. We have our political leaders get beat up in Algeria, and Algerian soldiers shooting Moroccans near the borders. There is no fair cooperation between Morocco and the other North African countries, because they're Algeria's strong allies, therefore, you support having Morocco's other half get taken away from it, which is bad. The irony is the North African region except Egypt is referred to as المغرب العربي
    "المغرب" another name for Morocco, yet we feel like the third wheel. We go through the most damages and our country is the least developed. It's mainly due to bad foreign relations with Algeria, a Maghreb country :), lovely right? You've wrote about the historical aspects of North Africa and I feel like pointing out its current situation. I say No to Maghreb United because there is no peace, there is no love, and there is no brotherhood.

  • Nice take! Learnt a lot. I have one small question. Why are Egyptians separately depicted in this picture of yours? Since Libya is the country next to Egypt, does that mean they aren't considered to be North Africans?

    • Lybian was the term used to describe all the peoples living west to Egypt, so Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco :))