Amazigh (Berber) people across North Africa began celebrating their New Year celebrations, known as Yennayer in the Tamazight language, on Monday by coming together for traditional celebrations
Agadir is organising New Year's celebrations on the city's beach front for locals and tourists, while in the town of Tiznit, the Tayri N'Wakal Association (Love the Earth) is holding a series of events for Amazigh New Year such as classes for the indigenous Tifinagh alphabet and a lectures on Amazigh history and civilisation.
The Amazigh believe that people who celebrate the New Year will enjoy a fruitful and prosperous year. Contrary to the Christian and Islamic calendars, the Amazigh feast has no religious connotations and is linked to agriculture.
The celebrations vary among the many Amazigh tribes but one constant is that revellers enjoy meals of a traditional stew known as "ourkimen" and couscous.
It is difficult to establish the historical roots of the Amazigh New Year, but some historians link it to the enthronement of the Amazigh king Shoshenq I after defeating Ramses III, which is believed to have happened in 950 BC.
Morocco's Amazigh in recent years have succeeded in having their language and culture recognised in the constitution, and are now pushing for Amazigh New Year to be made a public holiday on January 13th.
In the early 2000s, a Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture was set up in Rabat and Tamazight instruction was introduced in primary schools. Also, an Amazigh television channel was launched in 2006.
The Amazigh, who are now spread mainly across Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Tunisia were the original inhabitants of North Africa before the 7th century Arab invasion, and they make up a fifth of Algeria's 33 million people. The largest numbers of Amazigh are believed to be in Morocco.
The Amazigh call themselves "imazighen," or free men, and their resentment of Arab-dominated central governments means they have long agitated, sometimes violently, for autonomy.