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The Mozabite people are a Berber ethnic group living in M'zabmarker (Central Algeriamarker), in the northern Sahara. They speak Tumzabt. Most of them are Ibadi Muslims. Nearly all of them read and write Arabic, though they use the Zenata dialect of the Berber language, for which they have no surviving written form.

Mozabites live in five oases, namely, Ghardaiamarker, Beni-Isguen, El-Ateuf, Melika and Bounoura and two other isolated oases farther north, Berrianemarker and Guerrara.

History

According to tradition the Ibadites, after their overthrow at Tiaretmarker by the Fatimites, took refuge during the 10th century in the country to the southwest of Ouarglamarker, where they founded an independent state.

In 1012, owing to further persecutions, they fled to their present location, where they long remained invulnerable.

After the Frenchmarker capture of Laghouatmarker, the Mozabites concluded a convention with them in 1853, whereby they accepted to pay an annual contribution of 1,800 francs in return for their independence. In November 1882 the Mzab country was definitely annexed to French Algeria.

Ghardaiamarker (pop. 104.645) is the capital of the confederacy, followed in importance by Beni-Isguen (4916), the chief commercial centre.

Since the establishment of French control, Beni-Isguen has become the depot for the sale of European goods. The mozabit engineers built a system of irrigation works that made the oases much more fertile than they used to be.

References

  • A. Coyne, Le Mzab (Algiers, 1879); Rinn, Occupation du Mzab (Algiers, 1885)
  • Amat, Le M'Zab el les M'Zabites (Paris, 1888)



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