Sunday, January 22, 2012


The Fulani/Fulata, or "Fulitani" of the Roman writers, preserve an ancient pastoral nomadic and dying culture in modern Africa.   Men of this Fulani group called Woodabe often reach 7 feet in height according to Werner Herzog.  Woodabe Geerewol dance
This post by Dana W. Reynolds is dedicated to the Fulani ancestors of so many African Americans - a people with an ancient culture whom according to European colonialists "never retreated in battle".  

Woodabe-Fulani man in traditional turban

   Eastern Libyans - a classic with a world of knowledge on ancient Africa
This High priest of the "Libyan" tribe of  Meshwesh discovered in royal Egyptian tomb of the Libyan Pharaoh Psusennes is reminiscent of Fulani men

      The peoples best known as Fulani, Felata, Fulbe, Pullo or Peul in French are a pastoral cattle herding and farming ethnic group spread across the Sahara, Sahel and Sudan as far as between Mauritania Guinea and Ethiopia. Today in different regions the Fulani ethnic and linguistic population is thought to include up to as many as 15,000,000 people.
        One peculiarity found among the lesser modified or “red Fulani”, such as the Wodaabe (who preserve to a great extent  the original Fulani appearance and lifestyle), was pointed out by Werner Herzog in his documentary “Herdsmen of the Sun”.  There is a tendency to great height or stature. Apparently many of the men of the northern Fulani groups as with the Tuareg frequently reach 7 feet in height and over, something historians tend to forget, or are not always aware of when assessing "Fulani" origins.

Modern Fulani young woman of the Wodaabe group
     The original Fulani appear to have been fairly widespread in North and Saharan Africa from a very ancient period. They are probably mentioned in northern Algeria or what was considered Mauritania Caesarea as the Fulitani or Barzu Fulitani on the late 4th map of Julius Honorius (Mommsen 1867, p. 28 and 62). They are also mentioned as having come down a few centuries later from the Tichit region by the Tariq es-Sudan written in the 1600s.  They, thus are likely the Warith/Wariz (a probable variant of Barzu) said to have been pushed down from the Mauretanian Adrar region by the Arab Quraishi conqueror, Uqba ibn Nafi and converted to Islam.
   As for the Banu Warith or Waritan of the medeival period, they are described as a  clan of the Sanhaja or of the Geddula or Banu Joddala Berbers ( the latter were considered by that time a branch of the Sanhaja) by Arabized writers such as Ibn Hawqal and El Bekri and others. (Levtsion and Hopkins, 2000, pp. 50, 67, 237; Palmer, 1970, p. 61)     
     By the 10th century and 11th century Fulani were living amongst several peoples of other Nilo-Saharan groups who had mixed with and adopted the dialect of Niger-Congo groups in kingdoms of the Sudan. The Fulani gradually spread as far east as Ethiopia where they are known as Bororo and from Mauretania across Senegambia along the West African costs and savannah they spread to places like the Ivory Coast, Benin, Togo and Burkina Faso, but appear to have been the same adversaries appearing in ancient Egyptian tomb paintings of the time of Seti and called Tjehenu.

      Many of the groups that today speak the Fulbe, Fulfulde or Pulaagu dialects are in fact a mixture of the original Fula or Fulitani and these various Songhai and Mande ethnic groups. They are also associated with the people and place name Futa or Futabe.  A good example of such groups are the Toucouleur, formed and perhaps named from the Takruri and Fulani who had come to occupy the region of Futa Toro and Futa Jallon. In the northern Sahel and Sahara the group preserving the earliest Fulani lifestyle are known in Western texts “Wodaabe”a variant of the earlier Futa-be. 
      Although the Fulani had been mainly vassals in the early Sudanic kingdoms of Songhai and Ghana, by the 1500s the Fulani were at Macina/Massina in the Middle Niger river region in Mali. They are associated with coming to occupy and dominate the Empire called Sokoto and kingdom of Bornu originally founded by peoples of Nilo-Saharan and Tuareg ethnicity.

        The origins of the Fulani have stir some lasting controversy over the last several decades due to their physical appearance or phenotype, Arabic records concerning their origins, the presence of Zebu cattle thought to be native to India, certain inconsistencies with regard to their phenotype and their current linguistic affinities which were thought to not match their phenotype. Due to European colonialist ideas about indigenous African origins and especially North African “racial” origins, the notion has gradually evolved – as it has with the Tuareg and other dark-skinned Africans once prevalent in North Africa -  that their ethnic roots were “enigmatic” or “unknown”. Yet, in fact, the earliest Fulani were one of the few peoples for which there is an abundance of evidence for origins in the Sahara oases and North Africa since the Neolithic. The evidence is both archeological and anthropological and tends to show that original Fulani population belonged to a group of neolithic pastoralists in the central and northern Sahara who were spread to Kharga, Kerma and possibly further east in Africa in later times. They appear to have been among the first people to be known to ancient Egyptians as under the names Tjehenu or Temehou.
      Their presence in stone age north Africa probably led to contact with other groups as far back as the late stone age which has led to their current so–called non-African features such as notably lengthy and less frizzly hair than other west African tribes and perhaps the introduction of a curvature to their innately narrow long noses.

Typical faces of Woodabe Fulani
      As for the current linguistic situation of the Fulani, it should be said that there are many peoples in Africa that over the past 2,000 years have adopted dialects foreign to their own that subsequently evolved into newer forms. This has happened for various reasons, often due to trade or immigration.  A good example is the current situation of North Africa where many groups of varied ethnicity and diverse biological origin over the last 2,000 years have adopted either the Arabic or Berber dialects and claim either Arabic or Berber origin or nationality today. At one time Berbers themselves were said to have been largely “Romanized” while now it appears descendants of Romans, Vandals, Scythians, Central Asians and other peoples who have settled in North Africa (or have otherwise been brought in) have themselves been somewhat Berberized and Arabized through admixture and adopting of certain linguistic and cultural patterns and mores.
    The Nilo-Saharans are an example of indigenous Africans who are known to have mixed with and adopted Niger-Congo dialects of the Atlantic branch, becoming the Sarakholle, Serer, Soninke, Djallonke, Jahanke and other groups now designated “Mande” or “Mandinke”. Thus, the fact that certain groups now speak a specific dialect doesn’t always say much about their cultural origins.      
       Due largely to Fulani physical appearance and culture, early colonial observers viewed them as part of an imagined great warlike “Caucasoid” race near black in complexion which they called “hamitic” that had amalgamated with what they called  “Negro” tribes. This idea was spurred and bolstered by the fact that when colonialists first encountered Fulani in the Sudan they were often viewed by other Africans as a separate, lighter-skinned caste in places like the region of Massina where they were even described as “whites” by their own and in Arabic writings (a description that is used in Africa for many black African groups that are somewhat dark brown in tint rather than black or brown black).
     Furthermore, in many places there was a certain ethnic rivalry between Fulani and other groups as is common between more nomadic and more settled agricultural peoples in Africa. And these tensions (which haven’t completely disappeared in Africa since they were aggravated by European colonialist notions) in various regions was often attributed to “racial “differences between the “lighter-skinned” “nobles’ of “hamitic stock” and the so-called “black African” or “Negro” agriculturalists.

Woodabe couple 

    Of course Africa is made up of diverse populations of various complexion and phenotype from the yellow brown of the San and Kung Bushmen to the blue black of some Nilotic groups, and copper or bronze brown of certain Fulani and Beja. None of these groups can obviously be considered more black or African than the other as each has specialized development that has led to their particular phenotype.
      That being said, it is true that the Fulani especially the northern Fulani like the Woodabe often have a lighter caste to their skin than African tribes they live amongst and very often preserve features that are similar to the Nilo-Saharans and Cushitic speakers further much further east. The latter also often have a complexion that is often more of a dark copper brown than it is black brown. Still the Fulani were and are one of the major African groups contributing to the ancestry of blacks in the Americas (until recently known as “Negroes”), a fact that is now being confirmed by genetics, but was already established from colonial records in the U.S. and elsewhere. Thus, the conception of them as a “non-black” African group, as had been commonly suggested was a bit silly to entertain – and disingenuous, to say the least.

 Fulani man stands in front of his herd of cattle
      Fulani came in large numbers to America during the Atlantic slave trade and have been said by scholar Sterling Stuckey to have greatly influenced the cowboy and cattle culture in the United States. They have been cattle and sheep herdsmen for thousands of years and have kept many traditions alive. Herdsmen often affectionately name each member of their herd and know each by name. Cattle were not slaughtered for their  meat, but useful for their milk and other things. Long ago the ancestors of the Fulani and related people came to make the cow a symbolic of their gods in the Sahara and along the Nile.

 Yarrow Mahmoud - Fulani man in the U.S. who had won freedom lived in Washington, D.C. 

Abdul Rahman Ibrahim ibn Sori-former U.S. slave

    Abdul-Rahman (above) had been a student at Timbuktu (Tin Buqti) even then a world famous capital of learning in Mali. But he fell into hard times after serving as a leader in battle under his father against an enemy tribe. After being ambushed by his enemies with some of his war party on the way back to his father, he was sold as a prisoner of war by an enemy tribe. Like numerous other Fulani -  Abdul-Rahman  was brought to America by slavers. The year was 1788, and he was 26 years old.  He spent the next 40 years as a slave and slave overseer in Mississippi. He won his freedom and liberated his family moving to Liberia where he fell ill and died only a few months later.

       Like the Tuareg, the Fulani were admired by colonialists for what were perceived as cultural traits traceable to their “white hamite” origins. They were perceived as being more war-like than the more agricultural groups who were darker-skinned and known and praised for such values as “never turning back” in battle. There was also the fact that the colonialists who met the Fulani ruling elites found them to have profiles and coloring rather like those of the ancient “Egyptians”. They were never hesitant about commenting on the coiffures of Fulani men which they found to be curiously similar or identical to those of the ancient “Libyan” men portrayed in the tombs of Seti and other early Egyptian pharaohs.
     Several early authors documented this habit of wearing the hair among the Fulani, consisting of long plaits with long curled sidelocks worn by the ruling class of 19th century  Massina (in what is now Mali), as well as places in Chad. Speaking of the Fulani rulers of Massina or Macina, Ignatius Donnelly wrote in his 1882 book, Atlantis: The Antediluvian World, that in “Soudan, on the banks of the Niger, dwells a negro tribe ruled by a royal family (Masas), who are of rather fair complexion, and claim descent from white men…the Masas wear their hair in the same fashion as the Tamahus” (Donnelly & Sykes, 2003, p. 182). The “Negro” tribe in this case were the Mande population. Unfortunately this habit of weargin long curled locks is more characteristic of women than men today but is represented in many ancient Egyptian portayals of the people dwelling in oases adjacent to the Nile.

The ancient face of the earliest Libou/Tehenou men are often captured in modern Wodaabe face

Ancient "Libyans" with sidelocks as they exist on 19th dynasty tomb of Seti
Fulani men of the Woodabe clan customarily adorn themselves. 

Woodabe by Ferdinand Reus on Flickr. 
     Some early scholars were evidently  misled by the portrayals of Libyans by the 19th century Richard Lepsius who in his canon for reasons which are not quite clear or perhaps all too clear, seems to have rendered the ancient Libyans of a particular tomb in a tint much lighter than they appeared in the actual painting. Other scholars appear not to be aware that the ancient use of the term Tamahou or Tjemehou was originally used exclusively for the dark brown people of the Kharga and the other southern oases as (the name first appears in the 6th dynasty) and only much later for westerners in general including the rather mixed conglomeration of “Sea peoples”.

Caricatures of the ancient Libyans repainted to look like Europeans with beards and African hairstyles


Another strangely distorted and unrealistic or fantastical depiction of a "Libyan" by Richard Lepsius that is wrongly said to appear  in an ancient Egyptian tomb

    The above renderings are probably an attempt by some Egyptologists to mold the Libyans into the famous "Hamitic caucasoids" of colonialist fantasy. But the Libyans that appear in the tombs they are said to come from only appear either in a very dark color of the modern Fulani and Maasai or else like those below.

True to life painting from the New Kingdom dynasties of Egypt. 
  Even with the dark paint brown paint fading from their skins and the black from black plaited hair and side locks, one sees their "true colors" and the African origins of these rather late Libyans are evident. 
     Another archeologist named Oric Bates author of a foundational work known as The Eastern Libyans, also commented on these hairstyle similarities saying “the Fulbe or Fulahs of the Chad-zone sometimes braid the hair in a manner which strikingly recalls the Libyans of the monuments” (Bates, 1914, p. 136).

Individuals possibly sporting the Fulani sidelocks on the neolithic rock art of Kidal in the Adrar region of Mali.  Sidelocks are not commonly seen on Fulani today as they were in the days of colonialist observers.
Furthermore, it was not only the hairstyles, but the complexion, the attire, hats, feathers and designs in their costumes and tattoos, as well,  which seemed to link them to certain of the early peoples settled in Libyan oases next to Egypt (in places like Kharga and Dakhla) and Nubia since Neolithic times.  

ABOVE: Tattooed Fulani men

 Specialist Marion von Offelen in the more recent Nomads of Niger also noted resemblances in the attire and clothing designs of the present Woodabe group of Fulani to attire and tattoos designs on the “Libyans” of 19th dynasty tomb paintings of Seti (Van Offelen & Beckwith, 1984, p. 177). The details of these elaborate designs are obviously too alike to be just coincidence.

Elaborate designs on the this Fulani young man's attire go back thousands of years in Saharan art and ancient Egyptian potrayals of the New kingdom Libyans.  The designs have a special significance.

 However, what clinches the case is the well documented archaeological connection of the early people of the oases like Kharga and similar peoples in Nubia to some of the pastoral nomads in earlier eastern and central Saharan rock art of the Neolithic. Bates long ago noted that on Fulani garments were also the same designs that appear on the C group pottery of Kerma, (Bates, p. 251). As well archaeologist David Phillipson noted the archaeology of C-group pastoralists suggests a Saharan origin. (Phillipson, 1977,  p.66). These connections are not only strong at Kharga and Wadi Howar, but at Tassili and Annadi, Tibesti, Air, Ahaggar/Hoggar, Jebel Uweinat, Gilf Kebir and Wadi Djerat where the paintings date back to the neolithic period known to art historians and archeologists as the “Bovidian” dating back to the 3rd and 4th millenniums B.C. 
Rock art from the Algerian Sahara - individuals fix their hair or turbans

Women of the Fulani today continue to wear long side locks and ancient Saharan hairstyles.

 Ancient inhabitants of Tassili in Algeria appear to sport the modern Fulani bun hairstyle

 This is an area stretching from Algeria and Niger to Libya Sudan, and Chad where cattle in rock art with horns artificially deformed and cattle pendants typical of those of the C-group population of Nubia have been discovered. Gabriel Camps attributes these practices to C-group Nubian influence rather than vice versa. The two groups most characteristically associated with these paintings of “Bovidian” pastoralists according to Camps resemble the “tall” slender Fulani, and the smaller built populations called euphemistically brown or gracile Mediterranean man of Nubia (A and C-group), Egypt and the countries of the Horn i.e. the ancestors of many Nilo-Saharan, Afroasiatics or Cushitic-speakers (Camps, 1982,  pp. 574-575)
Aside from Camps, numerous archeologists and rock art specialists of both European and African descent have noted that many elements in Fulani culture, from the type of huts to their current rituals and hair styles and profiles, seem to be depicted in some of the very early pastoralist art work of Saharan oases stretching into the Central Sahara. The Fulani anthropologist Amadou Hampate Ba along with Germaine Dieterlen, authors of the article, “The Frescos of the Bovidian epoch in Tassili n'Ajjer and Traditions of the Peul” thought they had identified similarities between rituals and ceremonies shown in some of the rock paintings and those practiced by certain of the Fulani of today (Hampate Ba & Dieterlen, 1966, pp. 151-157).
  J. Hiernaux, a noted specialist on ancient rock art or frescoes of neolithic Saharan pastoralists also expressed an opinion on this. He was struck by similarities of the crest headgear and bun hairstyle in pastoral rock art of the Hoggar and Tassili and those of Fulani men and women of Macina/Massina near the Niger. The large lyre-shaped horns, so typical of the bovine figures, carvings and cave paintings are found especially in the Bororo Fulani herds.
 Christian Dupuy author of “The Rock Carvings of the Adrar des Iforas”, also expressed his belief that Fulani may have been responsible for some of the central Saharan rock art in which warriors are depicted. He wrote, “Certains des Peuls établis aujourd'hui dans la moyenne vallée du Niger, pourraient être affiliés aux auteurs des gravures de guerriers du Sahara méridional…” (Dupuy, 1991).
  At Jabbaren where Bovidian rock art dates back to the 4th millennium the artists have depicted a practice maintained by the Fulani of transporting the armature of huts, and the head gear, cattle, clothing and most typical physical characteristics of human figures of the pastoral period resemble the present day Fulani. These were undoubtedly similar to the early people who first appeared in the Fayum as Tjehenu in the Old Kingdom.                                                          

Modern Fulani man of Nigeria
The skin color of many Fulani has often been commented on by colonial scholars.

Libyan or "Tjehenu" man from the Old Kingdom era of Egypt wears characteristic "crossbands"

Modern crossbands of young Fulani men

    More recently scholars like J.L. Quellec in "Les Gravures Rupestre in Fezzan" have spoken of the numerous connections between C-group Nubians and ancient occupants of the Fezzan (Quellec,  1985, p. 373). These connections likely corroborate why ancient Libyans in Egyptian tomb paintings were found by Bates to wear tattoo designs similar to those present on C-group pottery.  
 Interestingly, modern Fulani also sport at times a hairstyle in which the hair is left long in the back and head shaved in the front, similar to the description of the hairstyle worn by the ancient Machlyes of ancient Libya who according to Herodotus spread to the river Triton in the Syrtic region.

The ancient Machyles "Libyans" (Northeast Africans) of Lake Triton let their hair "grow long in the back of the head".   Herodotus 5th century B.C., Book  4.180.1 

The women of the Machlyes were said to have practiced mock ritual battle with the neighboring women of the Auseans, in honor of their deitesse Minerva or Pallas Athena. According to the Greeks, the ancestor of the Libyan Machlyes,  the Psylli and the Adyrmakidae of both Nubia and Libya was Amphithemis, son of Acalle (or Acacallis) the daugther of Minos, son of Triton, the water nymph.

See our new blog Great Africanists

Ba, A, H. and Dieterlen, G. (1966). Les fresques d’époque bovidienne du Tassili n’Ajjer et les traditions des Peul: Hypothèse d’interprétation, Journal de la Société des Africanistes, 36, 151–157.

Bates, O. (1914). The Eastern Libyans. Frank Cass.

Camps, G. (1982). Beginnings of pastoralism and cultivation in Northwest Africa and the Sahara: Origins of the Berbers. Cambridge History of Africa Vol. 1:548-612.

Donnelly, I. & Sykes, E. (2003). Atlantis: The antideluvian world.

Dupuy, C. (1991). Sous Zone 3 Les gravures rupestres de l’Adrar des Iforas  Retrieved from

Hays, T. R.(1975). Neolithic settlement of the Sahara as it relates to the Nile Valley. In F. Wendorf and Marks Eds. Problems in Prehistoric North Africa and the Levant

Levtzion, N. and Hopkins, J F. P. (2000). Corpus of Arabic sources for early West African History. Mark Weiner.

Mommsen, T., Picot, E. & Mullenhoff, K. (1867).  Memoires sur les  Provinces Romaines, et sur les listes qui nous en sont parvenues depuis la division faite par Dioclétien jusqu'au   commencement du cinquième siècle.  Paris: Didier & Cies. Retrieved from;page=root;view=image;size=100;seq=10

Palmer, R. (1970). The Bornu Sahara and Sudan.

Phillipson, D. (1977). The later prehistory of eastern and southern Africa. 

Quellec,  J.L. (1985).  Les gravures rupestres du Fezzan  Anthropologie, Paris /pdf_files/124/1244875719.pdf

Reynolds, D. W. (199). The African heritage and ethnohistory of the Moors: Background to the emergence of early Berber and Arab peoples, from prehistory to the Islamic dynasties. In Golden Age of the Moors, Journal of African Civcilizations Vol. II Fall 1991.

Van Offelen, M. & Beckwith, C. ( 1984 )  Nomads of the Niger. Henry N. Abrams. 

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Friday, January 13, 2012


       PART II

By Dana W. Reynolds

The town of Djenne in Mali is one of several sites in the Sahel and Sudan regions whose roots by tradition date back to the days of the pharaohs. Photo credit
     "This city is great, flourishing and prosperous . . . one of the great markets of the Muslim world. Here gather the merchants who bring salt from the mines of Teghaza and those who bring gold from the mines of Bitou..." Tarikh es Sudan by al-Sadi  (cited by Basil Davidson in The African Past, 1964)  

       The author of the the book Aghram Nadharif, (2003), "According to the stereotyped image, the Garamantes are a black people (e.g. Ptolemy, 1.8.5; cf. Snowden 2001: 260-261 with full bibliography; Mattingly 2003: 89), part of the larger ethnic group of the Aethiopes (Desanges and Camps 1985). They are naked (nudi Garamantes: Lucan, Bellum civile IV 334) and burned by the sun..." (Mariano, Liverani, 2003, p. 432). : Ahel Gara is a general Tuareg name for people that were cultivators, though often seminomadic found throughout North Africa, the Sahara and Sahel.  They originally occupied places like Gara Mez- Zawaga in the Dahkhla Oasis west of the Nile and Gara Krima in the Wargla Oasis of the Mz’ab (Algeria) and towns named Garama or Jerma in Libya.   
      These Djerma came to be known as DJerma or Zarma Songhai and were descendants of an ancient "Ethiopian" people named "Garamantes".  The author or the "Garamantian Kingdom and their Southern Border" writes: "According to the stereotyped image, the Garamantes are a black people (e.g. Ptolemy, I.8.5; cf. Snowden 2001: 260-261 with full bibliography; Mattingly 2003: 89), part of the larger ethnic group of the Aethiopes (Désanges and Camps 1985). They are naked (nudi Garamantes: Lucan, Bellum civile IV 334) and burned by the sun ..." (Mariano, Liverani, 2003, p. 432).
    For thousands of years the more war-like pastoralists among the Afro-Asiatic speakers have lived in symbiotic client-caretaker or client-vassal relationship with Nilo-Saharan speakersand other populations. This relationship in the world of both African and Asia, between the hamran or hamdan and shamran or shimran. has been touched upon  in the allegory of Sam or Shem and Kham or Kamaya (found even in Indian lore as Chamar and Shamar).
 These vassal castes engaged in agricultural and metallurgical practices among the Berber confederations (they are different then the slave castes).  Some were called Anbat or Anbiya whose name may have been derived from the Nobatae or Anbat of the Kharga oasis west of the Nile and Egypt. The latter are known later as Anbat-Znaga, while the Teda-Dazaga (or Teyzega in Mauritania where they are also called eznaga (znaga). The others appear to have been of Haratin, Teda or Ikaradan stock like the peoples called Izghan or Azgar or Izaggaren located in Tassili and other Saharan oases.

Dazaga woman of the Teda- Kreda also known as Gorane (Garran)
       The Dazaga are also known as the Daza, Azza, Azzaga.  This latter word likely corresponds to the name of the population once prevalent in the Sahara called Zagha, Zaghai or Zaggan.  They are semi-nomadic peoples found today in the eastern parts of the Sudan, Chad and Libya as Zawaga, Zawagha or Zaghawa and in the West as Sughai.  Their name has been variously translated in texts as Zagha, Zaghai, Sughai, Zaggan, Izghan, Zaghawa, Zuwagha, Zawagha, Zauge, Azuagha, Azwagha, Sungee, Sanghee, Songhai, Songhay,  Sughai, Zanghi, Zingani, Zanj, and possibly Znaga.  It is this population or ethnic group who today in Chad and Sudan call their dialect Barituki and their ethnicity the “Berberi” or “Baribari” from which issued the name “Berber”. Their “nobles” as just mentioned corresponded to the warlike veiled population called Tuareg who name themselves Imakitan (in Arab texts Iketamani, Roman texts Macuteni or Mactunia), Sanhaja/ Sangira, Hawara or Ait Louiaen or Luwata, and Wusilah (Roman texts Sylli) and Imaqqoren of certain regions of Sahara and Sahel. In some regions north of Sahara, like the Aures and Kabyle mountains of Tunisia and Algeria and the Rif area and Atlas mountains of Morocco, these four groups - the original Teda–Garran or Dazaga (Teyzaga), Zaghawa and Tuareg - comprised the Masmuda and darker-skinned populations of the Kabylia.
      There may also have been some tie originally of the Zaghawa to the populations called Agaw or Agau in Abyssinia who are related to a group which designated itself Yibir (Ibri in Arabic) as many of the early Zaghai or Zaghawa or Beriberi, or at least their smith caste, were considered Jewish in Arab medieval texs. (See Part I - From Proto-Berbers to Moors” Recalling Nilo-Saharan Origins posting and forthcoming post on this blog – The Berbers as Hebrews). The Agau once had a dynasty called Zaghwe.

Songhay Chief
  Based on certain archaeological and cultural evidence, Eva Meyerwitz in her "Origins of Sudanic Civilization" suggested that the seminomadic “Zagha” today called Zaghawa or Zawagha in Chad and Sudan were responsible for diffusing Nubian Meroeitic elements of Garamantian culture into Fezzan as well as further west as far as Mauretania near the Atlantic beginning around the start of the Christian era. She also noted the early medieval manuscripts and the relationship of the people-name Zaghawa to Zaghai, sokai or Zarai, a kingdom which is today known as Songhay or Sonra". The Zaghawa also made use of the camel which is considered to have come late into the Sahara causing the proto-Berbers like the Garamantes to forgo the use of horses and chariots. But the Garamantian cultural links to Nubia, however, date back centuries before its historical peak in the Roman era (as evident from the pyramids of Nubian or Meroeitic affinity and other cultural techniques and productions.)  Meyerowitz in fact believed these Zagha had taken over the Garamantian kingdom. However the name Zaghawa may have been the same as "Zaueces" mentioned in the writings of Herodotus and the same as the "Arzugitani".
         The Zagha or Zaghawa or Zauge peoples were not only self-identified as “Beriberi” or Berbers, but were probably bringers of the name Berberi to the Sahara and North Africa. The Bali or Beli a Beja branch of the Zaghawa call themselves Beri or Beriberi. (Pastoralists of the West African Savannah. 1986, p. 74).
      An encyclopedia on the Islamic world relates the name to that of the ancient Zaueces of Herodotus (6th c. B.C.) and Arzugitani or Arzuges of Orosius which is connected to the region named Zeugitana by Pliny (1st c.).  It says: “It is very probable that this name is composed of two elements, zakiya, which is merely a variant of the Zakiya of the Berber genealogists and Ar. This second element recurs in the name of the ancient Libyan tribe of Arzugitani (Ar-zug-itani), identical with the Zauekes of Herodotus and the Zawagha of the Arab historians….” (Najendra Kr Singh, 2001, p. 153). The name Arzugitana came to refer generally to the peoples of southern Tripolitania (Merrills, 2004, p. 95) who were earlier named Gaitules. 
       The women of the Zauekes served as charioteers in war.  These Arzuges or Arzugitani tribes also inhabited the interior regions of Tripolitania and all the way to Lake Tritonis in northern Libya in classical times.  The Zavekes or Zaueces lived between the Maxyans or Maxitani (thought to be the Mazikes i.e. Tuareg) and the honey making Gyzantes or Zygantes (probably the Iznacen or Iznagen?) who all smeared themselves with red ochre. The name Zakiya is ancestral to the Zanata Berbers in general. The same article mentions that “Ifri”, is held to be the grandfather of Misra which is the ancestor of the Misrata a group of Hawara Berbers. It is said Ifren was son of Islitan, son of Misra, son of Zakiya, son of Warsik son of Adidat son of Djana (also written Chana or Jana). The Misrata are the Tuareg now called Imazuragh.  While “Ifri” was ancestor of the Iforas and Feruan clans of the Tuareg,  the Zaghai were said to descend from Djana or Jana.
      Eva Meyerowitz mentions that Dya or Zuwa the ruler said to have come from Wargla in the tradition of the Sugai, Zaghai or Songhay was sometimes called Djana. According to T. Lewicki, “The name 'Wargla' can be found in that of the Moorish 'tribe' of the Urceliani, referred to by Corippus in the sixth century” (Lewicki, p. 297).
     The Songhai rulers who were in fact called Sughai, Zaghai, Zaghawa or Zuwagha in various texts claimed they were descended from Djana who was a descendant of Mazigh like the Ifren or Ifuras Tuareg (also called Kel Iferouan or Ferwan) and the former came to be called Djanawa or Djanakerah in parts of the Sudan. It is in fact the origin of the names Ghana, Ghanawa or Gnaoua who were derived from the Songhai and Soninke peoples of the Niger.  Both of the Songhai and Tuareg groups comprised the “Zenata” Berbers of Tripolitania or Arzugitana.
       According to Jamil Abun-Nasr in the 9th century the “Zawagha living on the Tripolitanian coast “ helped the Ibadite ruler Khalaf  in the area of Sabratha also named Zawagha (today pronounced Zawarah or Zuwara by its present peoples) (1987, p. 46).  They also lived at this time in the Middle Atlas area of Fazaz. Gurara and Tuat or Tuwat were oases locales and rendezvous spots in Central Algeria for the Zaghai or Wangara and Tuareg traders in gold coming from Morocco and Tlemcen and Tunis. 
       Archeology testifies to the relationship of these regions of the desert in Algeria and Tunisia to locations further east, such as Siwa and Fezzan. In Tamentit in the Tuat region of Central Algeria, a stone idol with a ram’s head was found.  Although sacred depictions of the ram date back to the Neolithic period in the Sahara, the ram was well known to have been a symbol for the deity Ammon at Siwa and in Egypt. The peoples of Tuat and Jebel Nafusa in the heart of Arzugitana (Tunisia) knew how to build underground tunnels, now called foggaras, as in ancient Garamantian Fezzan in Libya.(See Part I of this post). It is thought some of the Zanata Berbers consisting of Magherawa, Jarawa, Zawagha and Nafzawa of the regions of Tuat and Mzab came directly from Cyrenaica in Libya during the period when the Roman emperor Trajan began to repress the people there. Many were Jewish or Judaized Berbers.

Gourara or Ghurara Berbers of southwestern Algeria are considered Zenata 

       By medieval times the indigenous people of the towns of Righ valley or Wadh Righ (land of the Maghrawa clan of the Zanata), of Tuwat (such as Tamentit and Ghurara)  and of the M’zab oases (Wargla, Sidrata, Biskra )had numerous master craftsmen, masons, locksmiths, armourers, tanners, boot and shoe makers,  tailors, and glassmakers. The towns were industrial and commercial centers possessing beautiful subterranean and artesian wells and acqueducts and gardens. Their craftsmen and artisans mined, worked and traded in gold and other metals and hence “the phrase the golden trade of the Moors”.  (Williams,   p. 240)

In the Gourara oasis a water tunnels or foggara irrigates the desert surroundings. They were built earlier by the ancestral Garamantes of Fezzan (Libya).

     Trade roots of the early Garawan or Wangara had long before the Islamic invasions of North Africa of the 9th century led from Tuat and its towns to southern Mauritania site of the ancient capitals of Ghana including Audoghost and Walata and Kumbi Saleh by way of Teghazza. The earliest mention of Ghana is said to have been in the 8th century by a Persian author a few centuries later Al Bakri or Bekri described the culture.

 “…al-Bakri described the eleventh-century court at Kumbi Saleh, where he saw gold-embroidered caps, golden saddles, shields and swords mounted with gold, and dogs' collars adorned with gold and silver. The Soninke managed to keep the source of their gold (the Bambuk mines, most notably) secret from Muslim traders. Yet gold production and trade were important activities that undoubtedly mobilized hundreds of thousands of African people. Leaders of the ancient kingdom of Ghana accumulated wealth by keeping the core of pure metal, leaving the unworked native gold to be marketed by their people.”

Ruins from the town of Kumbi Saleh (in southeast Mauretania) kingdom of Ghana

A few modern Soninke women

        It is said that even the dogs of Ghana in al-Bekri’s time wore gold and silver collars and had pedigree. Other trade roots ran from Tahart in the Rustamid kingdom through the Zanata town of Sijilmassa towards  Ghana. The peoples of Ghana, the Ghanawa or Djanawa were the Soninke traders or Wangara who were also known as Wankara, Wakore and Sarakore or Sarakolle. They were originally Sughai/Zaghai/Songhai people who had adopted the Mande dialects from the Niger region and likely were a mixture of both Mande and Sughai.

Hasna Elbachariya

A king leads a procession in the 19th century Zaghawa kingdom of Kanem-Bornu
       Al Maqrizi the 15th century writer claimed in fact in his day all nations between Abyssinia on the south, Nubia on the east Barkah on the north and Tekrur on the East including the kingdoms of Kanem and Bornu established between the regions of  Nigeria and Chad from the 9th century were occupied by or called Zaghai (better known as Songhai).(Cooley, 1841, 98, fn. 157, Barth, 1967, p. 107). (Barka was a very ancient town in Libya north of Fezzan.) The Zaghawa were the the mainstock of Kanem when it was under the Sefuwa dynasty called Maghuri (Imaqquran Tuareg) 11th century. The rulers claimed descent from the Himyarite Sa’ifs of ancient pre-Islamic Arabia dating back to the time of Moses. (Lange, D., 2011 ). The name Zaghai also designated the kingdom of Takrur (Laya, p. 454) whose people later mixed with the early Fulani people to become the Toucouleurs.
         According to Harold MacMichael -The traveler and observer al-Idrisi, born at the end of the 11th century in Spain spoke of the ethnic ties of the Sidrata to the Zaghawa or Zaghai. In the 10th century the Berbers called Sodraya, Sadarata or Sidrata who had named the Syrtes or Syrtica area of the Libyan coast (the Gulf of Sidra) were the occupants Biskra, Sidrata and Wargla or Warghalan oases towns in the M’zab region. Around the 11th century the Sidrata fled south to Gara Krima in Wargla oases area when the  Fatimid army conquered Biskra.  The Sidrata were said to belong to the Luwata.
      Wrote Idrisi -  “ ‘the two most important residences of the Zaghawa are Sakwa and Shama.  There is there a nomad tribe called Sodraya who pass as Berbers.’ These Sodraya, he says, ‘resemble the Zaghawa in their habits and customs, identify themselves  with them racially, and are commercially dependent upon them…’” (MacMichael, H.A. 1967, 106) The Zaghai inhabitants there were called Takrur.( Cooley, 98).  The Sidrata appear to have been Tuareg-affiliated.
  Ibn Batuta referred to the Zaghai as Zaghiyah or Zaghah. (Cooley, . p. 99).  Leo Africanus 16th also states that the "Sungai " (i.e. Zaghai) language was used in five states. Ibn Khaldun 14th c., speaks of the Zaghawa as among the veiled Sanhaja. It is thus not surprising to find an author in E.J. Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam, using another variant of the name -“Zaggan”, - and saying they were originally Sanhaja who in the west were absorbed into the Masmuda and Makili (Banu Maqil) of the Sus (Colin, 1993, p. 395).  
Ruins of Tamentit (in the Adrar region of Algeria)  - land of the Zuwagha and Maghrawat es-Sudani

The words Zaghawa and Zawagha have been used interchangeably by writers on the Berbers over the past century. H. Mones wrote of the Zaghawa in his article, "The Conquest of North Africa and Berber Resistance" for UNESCO noting that "the Zanata (or Zanatians) inhabited Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, extending southward as far as Djabal Nafusa and the oases of Fezzan, the predominant confederations of kabilas being those of the Hawwara, Luwata, Nafusa, and Zaghawa" (Mones, 1988, p. 228) Abun-Nasr and other writers more recently have used the spelling "Zawagha". Najeebabadi wrote "Gradually Idris become popular among Zawagha, Lawata, Zanata, Sadrota, Meknes and the Ghanaza clans of the Berbers” (2001, p. 222). 
 Budgett Meakin in his The Moorish Empires also wrote that among the first Berber tribes mentioned by Ibn khaldun (14th c.) to become allies to the Idrisid ruler Abd al Majid were "the Zawagha, Lawata, Sadrata, Nafza..." (Meakin, 1899, p. 36).
  The Zingani were also Zaghawa whom further west were called “Sungai” (the Songhai) whose dialect was used in Walata, Timbuktu, Mali, Jenne and Kagho (Cooley, 1841, p. 99 and 125). Of Jenne it was said, by the writer of Tarikh as-Sudan, " it is because of this blessed town that camel caravans come to Timbuktu from all points of the horizon."

Ruins of the old town of Walata
        The two major tribes in Fez in Morocco at the time were the Zawagha and the Beni Yarghish who lived in tents made of goat hair.  According to Ibn Idhar, born in 14th c. Andalusia, Yusuf bin Tashfin of the Lamtuna (Aulamidden Tuareg) Almoravid dynasty penetrated the Moroccan Rif area in the 12th century and found there the Matmata Tuareg and Zuwagha. The towns of Algiers and oran were occupied as well by these clans in the same century. 
      Similar to the ancient Mauri, the Zaghawa live in huts, but are also semi-nomadic and obtain much of their livelihood through herding cattle, camels and sheep and harvesting wild grains. They are first mentioned with the Tubu or Teda Garawan (todays Gor’an) by Al Yaquubi (9th c.) and are also people that traded slaves as did the Teda and ancient Garamantes.
      The Zuwagha were also present in several parts of Spain approximately a thousand years ago like the Jarawa and other Zanata and Masmuda.  The Jarawa (Garawa) were said to have been a "huge" proportion of the Zanata of North Africa (Taha, 1988, p. 24). The former are supposed to have named the present town of Azuagh in Badajoz, Spain in part of what was Andalusia. Idrisi mentions there a Moorish fortress in the 12th century. The name Zuwagha as mentioned above was sometimes pronounced Zuwara or Suera.  Suera de la Sierra d'Espadan in Valencia in the province of Castellon. (Velazquez, p. 140).  
Castle or Castillo de Mirmontes in Azuaga (Badajoz, Spain) said to have belonged to the Zuwaga tribe in Spain
          Zuwagha or Azuwagh Berbers were a branch or caste of the Sanhaja-related Kitama or Imakitan Tuareg according to the Djamhara (Velasquez, 1969, p. 140), while Ibn Hazm makes them Berbers of Botr or Al-abter stock.  Ibn Khaldun speaks of the Zaghawa as among the veiled Sanhaja. It is thus not surprising to find an author in E.J. Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam, using another variant of the name -“Zaggan”, - and saying they were originally Sanhaja who in the west were absorbed into the Masmuda and Makili ( Machlyes?) of the Sus (Colin, 1993, p. 395). 
       By the 9th century most of the Ibadites (Zenata) traders from Wargla, Jebel Nafusa and the Wed Righ had settled in Audughost an early capital of Ghana (modern southern Mauretania). According to scholars, the name Barbara and al-Barabir was attached to the Djanawa or Soninke (Wangara/Wakore) of Dar Tichitt in early Arab sources and Portuguese chronicles (Lewicki, 1988, p. 313).

According to Arab sources of the sixth/twelfth century (Kitab al-Istibsar and al-Zuhri), the blacks known as the Barbar or Barbara (Arabic plural:Barabir) formed the population of the Sudanese land of Zafunu, corresponding to present-day Diafunu.  They counted among the Djanawa that is to say the blacks and also, according to al-Zuhri, lived in the center of the desert (probably the deserts and steppes of south-east Mauritania) and in areas in the vicinity of Ghana and Tadmekka (north of Gao), the inhabitants of which invaded their lands in order to take slaves….The Barbara believed themselves to be the noblest of the Sudanese peoples and claimed that the sovereigns of Ghana came from their ‘tribe’.
     The Barbara would thus appear to be a group of the Soninke.”(Lewicki, p. 313).

      Many of these Mande speakers Barbar were thus known as Djanawa, Gnawa, Guineans, Djanawa, Ignawen, Djanah and Djenakherah (Lewicki, 1988, p. 313; Williams, 2003, p. 300; MacQueen, 1821, p. 35). 
      It has long been recognized that the Bavares of the Mauri Bavares of the Sitifensis of the ancient Maghreb region was frequently written as Babar or Barbares.  More recently David Goldenberg has acknowledged this in the article: Rabbinic Knowledge of Black Africa (Sifre Deut. 320).  He writes as follows:

The Barbares are mentioned in Julius Honorius, Cosmographia (5th century) A 47, A 48 (var.Barbaricen(s), Barbarigens), B 48 (Barbaricenses), ed. Riese, Geog. Lat. Min., pp. 53-54; Libergenerationis 197.67 (Chronographus anni 353), ed. Mommsen, p. 107, ed. Riese, p. 167; Laterculus Veronensis (4th century), ed. Riese, p. 129. Barbares is a variant form of the name Bavares, a people of Mauretania Tingitana and/or Caesariensis, who possibly appear also under the name Babari. Note the association of Barbares with Mauretania in the Laterculus V V Veronensis (Riese, p. 129): Item gentes quae in Mauretania sunt: Mauri [Quinque]gentiani, Mauri Mazices, Mauri Barbares, Mauri Bacuates....” (Goldenberg, 1998, p. 3 fn. 3)
        Retrieved pdf file
       The Soninke are usually also associated with the names Wakore and Wangara which are assumed by many researchers to be derived from the same root although that is not certain. It is also said “There is a tradition that that Ouakoré, Ouangara and Songhay came from the same ancestor, a certain Tarâs from Yemen, who had three sons of the names of Ouakoré, Ouangara and Songhay. The elder son Ouakoré was given the kingship under the title "Kaya maghan" (king of gold).” Taras or Daris is the ancient Berber ancestor whom the Greeks called Atlas.
     “Wakoré/Wangara” according to Andreas Massing “were Soninke clans specialized in trade, Islamic scholarship and law who migrated in the 14-15th centuries from the Awkar, now on Mauritanian territory, into the Mali provinces of Mema, Beledugu, Zaga, Bendugu, Massina, and further East and South, perhaps founding such towns as Odienne, Koro, Boron and Kong.” .  The early Mande and Songhai are considered to have lived in places like Dar Tichitt and Jenne which were forerunners to the ancient empires of Ghana and Songhai. Their Soninke descendants today in Mauretania are a fisher folk called Imraguen.

Ruins of the ancient Soninke town of Dar Tichitt in Mauretania
       Ibn Battuta identified the merchants of Zaghari as Wanjarata (Wangara) and as Saghanogho or Sanogo Ibadites.  The latter were either Tuareg or their vassals called Guirga (Sarakholle, Wakore, Songhay). Tuareg and Fulani are sometimes called “white” or sometimes “red” in the Arab and African texts respectively, while otherwise called blacks or Sudani). In the region of the modern country of Mauretania and Senegal, the Songhai traders who were mixed with Mande-speakers and called Soninke or Aswanek became known as Imraguen. 

Video of Imraguen

       Massing wrote that the name Wakore are generally associated with the Songhai and the Wangara with the Mande.  In any case, the names of the Saghanogo, Songhai, Zingani, Zaggan, Zaghai, Songhai, and Zaghawa, have the same etymological root and were names for the merchant class of gold traders who controlled the economies of so many kingdoms of the Sudan (Laya, 1992, p. 454, fn. 7; Cooley, 1841, p. 98, n.157).


Abun-Nasr, J  (1987)  – A history of the Maghreb in the Islamic period. p. 46

Cooley, W.D. (1841).  The Negroland of the Arabs examined and explained: Or an inquiry into the early
     history and geography of Central Africa. London.

Goldenberg, D. (1998) Rabbinic knowledge of Black Africa, Jewish Studies Quarterly (5), pp. 318-28.

Lange, D.  (2011).  "The Founding of Kanem by Assyrian Refugees ca. 600 BCE: Documentary, Linguistic,
    and Archaeological Evidence", Working Papers in African Studies, 265. Retrieved on line

Laya, D. (1992).   “The Hausa states”, In “Africa from the Sixteenth to the Eighteenth century” General History of Africa, UNESCO.

Lewicki, T. (1988). “The role of the Sahara and Saharians in relations between north and south”. General History of Africa Vol. 3, UNESCO

Liverani, Mario. ( 2006). The Garamantian kingdom and it's southern border.  Aghram Nadharif. The Barkat Oasis.

MacMichael, H. (1967). The tribes of Northern and Central Kordofan.

Massing, A. (2000). The Wangara an Old Soninke diaspora in West Africa. Cahiers D’Etudes Africaines.

Meakin. B. ( 1899). The Moorish empire: A historical epitome

Merrills, A.  (2003). Vandals, Romans and Berbers.

Mones,  H. (1992). The  Conquest of North Africa and Berber resistance"  in I. Hrbek 's General history of
    Africa. Vol. 3, UNESCO

Najeebabadi, A.S. (2000). History of Islam, Volume 3  (Darussalam Saudi Arabia)

Najendra Kr Singh, A. B. K. (2001). Encyclopaedia of the world Muslims:  tribes castes and communities
    Vol. 1, Global Vision Publication House

Taha, A. (1988) The Muslim conquest and settlement of North Africa and Spain.

Velasquez,  (1969). Mélanges de la Casa de Velasquez: Nouvelle Serie Volume 5

Williams, J.J. (2003). Hebrewisms of West Africa.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012


By Dana W. Reynolds


Part I 

            "Though men of Nubia be Christian they be as the Moors for the great heat of the Sun.." from the 14th century book,  Travels of Sir John Mandeville (d. 1372).
        Depiction of a Lamtuna "Moor" or Berber (Almoravid dynasty) said to be Abu Bacari on a map of the 15th century  Portuguese cartographer Mecia Viladestes

Modern men of the Fezzan region in Libya

       In the early part of the 20th century the British anatomist Grafton Elliot Smith wrote of how in Morocco "...the word Moor is often used to suggest Negro influence" (G. Elliot Smith, Human History, 1919, p. 124). In fact for a long time it was the usual way most Europeans had used the word. According to the 19th century Francisco Simonet, a noted specialist on Mozarabic dialect, among Medieval Christians in Spain (or Mozarabs)  the word "Negro" or "black" had once been more or less a synonym for "Moro", largely due to the predominance of black skin among the Muslims who had occupied the Iberian peninsula for several centuries after the time of the 6th century Isidore of Seville.  The early specialist on Mauretania M. Roblin once wrote also "in medieval France as in Rome Moor is a synonym for Niger" (Barthelemy, 1987, p. 9).
     Before the time of the Muslim invasions of North Africa, most parts of al-Maghreb, except for an area of Cyrenaica in Libya, had been occupied mainly by ancestors of the Tuareg - the tall dark-brown people affiliated with early populations in the Horn that had settled Arabia and its deserts. But it was also occupied by a large group of even blacker people of Nilo-Saharan origin. The latter  like the Tuareg were designated by the name "Mauri" by Europeans and were the other major group of  people accustomed to making incursions into Spain and whom the Latin, Greek and Roman writers at times referred to as black "as night" (Isidore's Etymologies XIX xxiii 7  ) or  "as crows" (See Corippus, Johannide on the Moors of the Aures in northern Tunisia) and otherwise as the color of pitch (See below).
     The Muslim slave trade which brought many peoples of European and Near Eastern descent as slave soldiers and concubines into Andalusia and North Africa, as well as various nationalisms, including those of  colonial racists, has since altered the perspective of many historians, amateur and expert alike, of who Moors and Berbers actually were. More recently and mainly in the last several hundred years  the Muslim slave trade has also pulled other peoples of other African descent from southern cultures into North Africa adding to the notion that ancient "Mauretania" had always  been occupied by people who look more or less Near Eastern and European, rather than like the "Mauri".
      North Africa has been essentially Arabized and Berberized to the point that almost everybody speaks either Berber or Arab dialects. However, as archeology and genetics is now testifying, the modern North African people are culturally and biologically derived from the confluence and amalgamation of many biological groups over centuries. This is also clearly illustrated by current phenotypes which are probably about as diverse as all the varied people known to have arrived in North Africa over the past 3,000 years.
        This post treats of the people the Romans and later peoples consistently referred to as "black" in North Africa mainly the proto-Berbers, Gaitules and the Mauri, who were the people that had occupied the Sahara for centuries before the arrival of the Greeks, Romans, Vandals and Scythians and later colonists that came with the Muslim invasion of North Africa. In Libya in Fezzan these peoples had names like Garamantes, Gamphasantes, Tidamansii, Gillagammae. Roman geographer Pomponius Mela (45 A.D.) refers to the Garamantes as "Gamphasantes". While Pliny refers to Garamantia as Phazania with its capital of Garama. Much later the Syrian Abul Feda of the 14th century refers to Garama and its population as Garran or Karran a name Arab speakers still use for the modern Daza.(Daza are Toubou speaking peoples now living mainly in Chad and Niger.)

See video of the modern Garran of Chad here.

Mint for tea and a banquet of nuts and traditional Saharan finery surround a man of Ghadames (anciently a town of the Garamantes). He looks ready to host many guests

     These names are probably recalled by the ethnonyms of modern  Nilo-Saharan speakers of Fezzan, Libya, Chad and the Sahel who are still called Koroma, Djerma or Zarma, the N'gam, N'galagha, and Teda or Tida-Krit or Kareda.  Some of the ancient and present "black" populations of Fezzan and Libya now  classified as Toubou or Tibbu themselves appear to have been derived themselves from several ethnic sources of both Nilotic, Saharan and Cushitic origin.

Modern Zaghawa man called Zuwagha in Sudan and North Africa
        Teda, Zaghawa and Daza groups each speak Nilo-Saharan dialects, but claim and appear to have had separate origins. The Teda-Goran or Daza are known to be a rather war-like people whose women even wear daggers under their sleeves. Cabot -Brigs in 1962 wrote, “women sometimes wear swords and armdaggers, and exercise a freedom and a degree of authority which suggest that they may have enjoyed a higher status in the past.” They also have a group of people who are slaves called Kamaya.

Women of the Teda (Tubu)  perform a dance (photo from the site
See here documentary on caravan Tubu women on their annual 1500 kilometer Saharan trek to Bilma.

      One group now classified as Tibbu, or Tubu, which were apparently originally Cushitic include the Bilia, Beli-Zaghawa or Bideyat (Badai).  (Pastoralists of the West African Savannah. 1986, p. 74, and "The Tibu Peoples and the Libyan Desert", by R. F. Peel, The Geographical Journal, Vol. 100 , No. 2, 1942, pp. 73-87.) The latter who in the Byzantine era were certainly the peoples called Beliyya, Balau or Blemmyes still designate themselves Beri or Beriberi and  may have been responsible for bringing the word Berber into the Fezzan and North Africa.
         The modern Tibbou or Teda-Krit, Kreda, are also called Ikaradan, Kardawan and further west as Haratin.  The Haratin further west however often present an appearance especially in the top portion of the face that is between San (so called Hottentot or Bushmen) and Beja.  On the other hand this may have been later Turkish influence, as there is frequently a similar appearance to the eyes among other Moroccan Berbers.  These groups are likely representative of the ancient Tidamensi of Fezzan who have been described by early historians as a branch of the Garamantes. They are related to the original Azghar or Izaggaren of Tassili who were vassal clans of the Tuareg. It was a man named Augustus Keane who first noted that "there were two distinct sections of the Tibbu one the northern Tedas, a name recalling the Tedamansii a branch of the Garamantes...". The other group may descend from the "Ethiopian Trogodytes" that were captured as slaves, such as the Teda still possess. (MacMichaels, 1922,  p. 31). The Garamantian tribe was also said to have been also associated with the town of Ghadames. Some have even  speculated more recently that Cidamus the Roman name for Ghadames was somehow a corruption of Tidamensii (an idea which probably has little to support it).
     Modern study has found the Haratin blood groupings to be the closest to the ancient Egyptians of any living African population and they are undoubtedly among the most ancient populations of the Sahara who were also likely settled on the Nile and east of by the neolithic era. ( Paoli, G., "ABO Typing of Ancient Egyptians" found in Population biology of ancient Egyptians  1973, p. 464.)

A modern Haratin family

      The Garamantes were cattle herdsmen or pastoralists, but skilled in hydraulics and agricultural, metallurgy, glass-making and mining and used high-quality textiles. They were also developed expertised in salt-refining.  Their advanced irrigation and hydraulics technology allowed them to create a green oases in the midst of the Sahara. They had many walled towns and built pyramids and pyramid funerary monuments with Meroitic Nubian affinities. Their advanced irrigation and hydraulics technology allowed them to create a green oases in the midst of the Sahara.
      According to Charles Daniels in his groundbreaking, The Garamantes of the Libyan Sahara (1970), the type of cist burials they used which are the most ancient cairn type found throughout the northern Sahara were associated with "hollowed stone bowls reminiscent of those found in the southeastern Sahara" (pp. 32-35). They buried there dead in contracted fashion typical of Africans of the Sahara, the Nile and east Africa at that time and during the neolithic and skeletons were found covered with red ochre.
       Other populations of the modern Toubou may descend from the "Ethiopians" called Trogodytae who made their homes in caverns and dwelt both in Sahara and near the Red Sea. Herodotus mentions the Garamantes who though they were not war-like, hunted from four horse chariots the trogodyte Ethiopians who lived in caverns and sounded like bats. The Tibu or Toubou graves are reminiscent of  those found among the Zaghawa of Dar Fur, but they date back to an very early period in the Sahara and Nubia as well. 
       The Amazonite mined in the Acacus region of Libya known anciently in Egypt as the Tmhy stones is still extracted by the Toubou there, which has led some to suggest that some of the Toubou-speakers descend from the ancient Temehou people of the Libya and oases adjacent to the Nile. (p. 54, Willis, J.R.,  Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa)

The Toubou of Africa dwelling in Chad, Fezzan, Sudan, Libya, Niger

“There are three tribes of Ethiopians: Hesperians, Garamantes and Indians”, Isidore of Seville, Spain 6th century.  (See IX ii The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, Stephen A. Barney, 2006, p. 199).   

        The name of the Garamantes came from of the ahel Gara who had a town called Garama or Jerma.  In ancient Greek myth, Garamas was a brother of Ogygia or Gyges a king in the Aegean and the grandson of  Minos the ruler who founded Crete expelling the Carians a Pelasgian people from the area. The mother of Garamas,  also called Amphithemis, was Tritonis, a water nymph.  Interestingly the myth of descent from a water nymph seems to be retained among the people like the Fulani or Woodabe/Futa-be also once numerous in the neolithic Sahara and oases next to Egypt.
      Garamantians peoples once had a major civilization in the Libyan Fezzan and Sahara comprised of several towns. The civilization peaked between the 2nd B.C. and 6th century A.D.  From where the name of the Garama is derived it is not certain, but the direct roots of Garamantian culture date back to at least the 9th century B.C. and early Garamantians are described by Herodotus in the 6th century BC as a "great nation", although having no weapons of war.
     Garamantian agriculturalists may have evolved from the neolithic agriculturalists of the region. By the time the Greeks first spoke of the them they were cattle herdsmen or pastoralists, but skilled in hydraulics and agricultural, metallurgy, glass-making and mining and used high-quality textiles. They had a well developed expertise in salt-refining as well.  Their advanced irrigation and hydraulics technology allowed them to create a green oases in the midst of the Sahara. They had many walled towns and built pyramids and pyramid funerary monuments with Meroitic Nubian affinities.  They were also noted as fishermen. Shrimp being among their favorite meals.

      According to Charles Daniels in his groundbreaking work, The Garamantes of the Libyan Sahara (1970) the type of cist burials they used which are the most ancient cairn type found throughout the northern Sahara were associated with "hollowed stone bowls reminiscent of those found in the southeastern Sahara" (pp. 32-35). They buried there dead in contracted fashion typical of Africans of the Sahara, the Nile and east Africa at that time and during the neolithic and skeletons were found covered with red ochre as elsewhere.
       Other populations of the modern Toubou-speakers may descend from the "Ethiopians" called Trogodytae who made their homes in caverns and dwelt both in Sahara and near the Red Sea. Herodotus mentions the Garamantes who though they were not war-like, hunted from four horse chariots the trogodyte Ethiopians who lived in caverns and sounded like bats. The Tibu or Toubou graves are reminiscent of  those found among the Zaghawa of Dar Fur, but they date back to an very early period in the Sahara and Nubia as well. 
        Garamantians mined Amazonite in the Acacus region of Libya known.  Amazonite anciently in Egypt was known as the Tmhy stones and  is still extracted by the Toubou, which has led some to suggest that some of the Toubou-speakers descend from the ancient Temehou people of the Libya and oases adjacent to the Nile. (p. 54, Willis, J.R.,  Slaves and Slavery in Muslim Africa)

Garamantian funerary monuments built with similar techniques to those of Meroe

The pyramids of Meroe in Nubia

      The traders of the Garamantes served as intermediaries between the Mediterranean coast and Africa. They traded semi-precious gems that they mined with Carthaginians as well as Romans and Byzantines.     Later on elements were introduced from further east and north. The rock art of the region shows at some point in time a script similar to the Tuareg Tifinagh was introduced as well as a people similar to the feather wearing people of Nubia  and on Libyans in Egyptian reliefs. There were Phoenician or Punic elements as well. Interestingly the Tuareg word Tifinagh is supposed to mean 'belonging to the Phoenicians", and Tuareg still claim descent from Phoenicians.
      On the other hand the Tuareg by custom are a people who hold the plough in contempt and look down on the agricultural way of life and those who live it so the idea that has been put forward by some amateur historians that the Tuareg and the originally the highly agricultural Garamantes were the same people is a highly unlikely proposition. Most likely the Garamantian population had become particularly by its later era similar to that which now inhabitants the Libyan Fezzan, the Toubou or Haratin, Zaghawa and Tuareg-related peoples, with a hierarchical society consisting of both nomadic pastoralists and sedentary peoples that included war-like nobles, vassals and slaves who performed the cultivators and metallurgical work. The Garamantes grazed their oxen backwards and bareback and had this and other customs in common with modern Nilo-Saharan inhabitants of the Bornu Saharan region.

Excavated ruins of Garama or old Jerma


      In 470 AD. the Latin poet Florus records (in scatological and racist terms) the importation of Garamantians as slaves into North Africa.  In the same era the Latin writer Luxorious notes the importation of Garamantian women and men as slaves into North Africa. (Willis, 1985, p. 55).  Lucan 4.679 describes them and the Nasamones as  perustus or 'burnt up' by the sun; Arnobius in Adversus Nationes 6.5 calls them fuscus or brown or dark.  Ptolemy II had early on referred to the Garamantes as "somewhat black" and "more likely Ethiopians" rather than Libyans. They were described as nearly nude and wore loin cloth made of animal skin like the medieval Zaghawa of Kanem. And like the latter the Garamantians had herds of cattle and possessed horses and camels, and rode their oxen backwards in pasturing. Past anthropological study of Garamantian skeletal evidence by Sergi and Charles Daniels has shown that the people were morphologically not that disimilar from types found in the Sahel, Sahara and Nubia extending into the east African area today.
       As with other early proto-Berber tribes the Garamantes and Getulians were both frequently disparaged for their black complexions in early Latin literature. A recent abstract for the article "Was Black Beautiful in Vandal Africa" in African Athena: New Agendas by professor and classicist John Starks, Jr. clarifies the issue.

"Anti-black racism appears in poems of Vandal-era Africa from the Codex Salmasianus of the Anthologia Latina. Two spottepigramme viciously attack the blackness of ‘Berber’ Garamantes from the African interior. AL183Riese labels a black man, possibly a successful athlete ..., as ‘dregs that have invaded our space,’ ‘a black homeboy (verna) that loves his pitchy skin,’ an inhuman specter so dreadful that Dis should hire ‘the ink-blackened monster’ to guard the doors of Hell. Luxorius 329R calls black Garamantian women ugly and white Pontic women beautiful indicating apt local color in his West-East geographical twist on the South-North Greek racial dichotomy of Ethiopians and Thracians/Scythians (Xenoph. fr.16Diehls)."
   In actuality the ancient writings about Garamantians sound strangely contemporary in its racist aspects as we find their skin color - which was likened an ink blot here and to tar by Plautus  - was also vulgarly compared at times to fecal matter in some writings.(See African Athena: New Agendas, 2011,  p. 247.)
     Another translation is as follows:  "dregs of the Garamantes and the scay visage of a black slave who looks as if he should be a guard at the gates of Hell. But it also allows that the slave, homegrown as he is, took pride in his pitch-black body" (Gruen, Erich S., 2011, p. 206).
    Directly west of the Garamantes were the Getulians, the most numerous people of North Africa or what was then called Libya (Mela, lib. I. c. 3; Eustathius, Commentarii in Dionysium, v. 215).  Starks also mentions what Luxorius wrote seemingly about the Getules.
"Luxorius praises white, feminine beauty in classic terms (364R), but with stronger cultural relevance in tributes to the white Vandal women among his ruling-class patrons (18R.36-7; 345R.6; George). By contrast, he castigates the dancer Gattula (361,362R), whose name may suggest Gaetulian heritage (Rosenblum; Melanogaetuli Ptol. 4.6.5) and her blackness (gattula/francolin-black partridge TLL 1629), as the epitome of horrifying ugliness, an ominous evil who disgusts audiences with her gyrating body and attracts only corpses with the fruits of her success. Blacks in Vandal Africa are only participants in the ‘freak show’ of exotic animals and disfranchised societal infames, entertainers, sexual deviants, the disabled, the ugly as constructed by a reconstituted Roman society self-realized between white Vandal power and black African marginalization."
     The Getulii were anciently known as the inhabitants of southern Numidia and certain writers name them or  a portion of them the Melano-Gaitules or "black Getuli" - Getuli being either the name of a snake or partridge. The Roman writer Juvenal comically speaks of a Getulian or "a Moor" "so black you'd rather not meet up with him at night time". (Juvenal Satires 5.53-4). 
     Starks also writes,  "Juvenal's black Gaitulian Ganymede is a drover ill-equipped to serve as cupbearer, and polar opposite to a lily-white Asian pansy (flos Asiae), the stereotypical do-nothing 'eye candy' slave of opulent Roman households" (Starks, 2011, p. 253).
       Ancient writers in fact make clear the original Getulians were an extension of the nomadic occupants of Nubia and the Blue and White Nile rivers in east Africa or Sudan. The first century Roman Jewish writer, Josephus, asserts in his Antiquities of the Jews, in a section on the children and grandchildren of Ham that the Getuli were descendants of the "Evileans" or Evalioi (Havilah). As far as he was concerned they belonged to the same people that had not only settled Meroe and parts of Western Ethiopia - i.e. the Sahara and Sahel, but who had once occupied Syria or Canaan and Babylonia.
      He asserts, ''The children of Ham possessed the land from Syria to the Amanus and the mountains of Libanus, seizing upon all that was and the seacoasts, and as far as the ocean and keeping it as their own. Some of its names are utterly vanished away..."
     Continuing he speaks of the grandchildren of Ham, "Sabas [Sabax], who founded the Sabeans; Evilas [Havilah], who founded the Evileans, who are called Getuli ..." and "Sabathens who are now called by the Greeks Astaborans". He goes on to speak of Ragmus (Ra'amah) ancestor of the Ragmeans, and Yudadas or Judadas (or Dedan) who settled the  "Judadaeans, a nation of western Ethiopians and left them his name, as did Sabas the Sabaeans." 
       Josephus adds "but Nimrod the son of Chus (Kush) stayed and tyrannized at Bablyon as we have already informed you."  Of course Dedan or Yudadas, Hevilah, Ragmah and Sabas spoken of are the Dedan, Saba, Hevilah, Ra'amah, Nimrod and Sabtah named the sons of Kush, son of Ham in Genesis 10:7  and 1Chronicles 1:9 of the western Bible.  In those days Kush appears to have been the name of an area on both sides of the Red Sea.  In Africa it was south of Egypt.  The Arabian Tihama was referred to as Kush according to the medieval write ibn Mudjawir. At one time "at least the southern Tihama (from Mecca southwards) was called Kus (Ibn Mugawir, Tarikh, 83)." (See Jean Retso's, The Arabs in Antiquity, p. 231, 2003, note 52.)
        The geographies of Ptolemy and Strabo of the same era as Josephus say the Sabaeans were the occupants of Meroe. He describes the nomads wandering with their herds called Astaborans who occupied and named the Atbarah in the modern country of Sudan and the Astapus (White Nile) both rivers which insulated the Meroeitic area. The ancient Evalioi or historical Avalites were related people who were great traders of incense between Eritrea, Somalia and the Arabian peninsula named the city of Zeila or Zawila or Dthu Awilah on the gulf of Aden in northwest Somalia. Strabo names the Sinus Avalites to the south of the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb.
     According to the notable 12th century traveler Benjamin of Tudela (a locale of Spain), the Zeila or Zawila in the Libyan Fezzan was also designated Havila, and capital of the land of Ghana. He writes,  "From Assuan it is a distance of 12 days to Haluan (Helwan in Egypt near Cairo), where there are about 300 Jews.  Then people travel by caravan a journey of 50 days through the great desert called Sahara to the land of Zawilah which is Havilah in the land of Gana"  (Adler, 1906, p. 678). This land also known as Avalis was in medieval times named Zeila Uzlan or Wasilah from which Palmer thought came the Roman word Sylli or Seli or Silha (H.R. Palmer, Tuareg of the Sahara I, 1932). The region was colonized by Turks in a the late medieval period and is now called Murzuk.
      Among the ancient Gaitules were included the Autololes once spread over the coast of Mauretania Tingitana (Tangiers), Bagigaituli  and the Darae Gaituli on the steppes of the Upper Atlas or Grand Atlas who are said to have named the valley of the Draa or Wedh/Wadi Dra'a. The "Getulians, distinguished by the designation of Darae have left their name to Darah, separated from Morocco by a branch of Mount Atlas". According to the recent publication, Travel Morocco: Guide Maps and Phrasebook, the modern inhabitants are called "Drawa" and "Outside of the Draa region this name is mostly used to refer to the dark-skinned people of Draa which make up the largest portion of its inhabitants.(Travel Morocco: Guide Maps and Phrasebook, 2010)
Modern Berber girl of the Wedh Dra'a

      From the Gaitules arose a considerable portion of the clans that appear to have included the Zanata Berbers whom according to Ibn Khaldun were the most considerable of the Berbers of North Africa.  These Zanata or Zenetes included the Magherawa anciently called Machurebii in Algeria (Makhoraba and Makhorenes in Nubia) "who were on the northern side of the Daradus or the modern Wadi Darah" (Cooley, 1841, p. 58, fn. 98). In the middle of the 11th century, the Maghrawa still "controlled most the Sous and Drâa, Sijilmassa, and Aghmat as well as Fès."  Idrisi refers to them as Maghrewat es-Sudani. They are the ancestors of the Imaqqaren or Imagharan Tuareg who also founded Tin Bakht or Timbuktu. The name of the Gaitules is also thought to have evolved into the Joddala branch of the Sanhaja who were known in part were represented by the Fulata or Fulani known as Banu Warith or Barzu Fulitani of Mauretania Caesarea. 
      Another branch of the Zanata were the Jarawa or Jawara whose descendants are thought to be the Ghuara or Guara of Wargla, Touggourt and the same as Garawan or Goraan populations of Fezzan and Chad. These people are the descendants of the Garamantian traders early on whose centers were the northern oases stretching between Algeria, Tunisia  and Libya.
     As they moved southward into the Sudan they became known in manuscripts as Wangara or Wakore. As Bovill states in Silent Trade of Wangara, these traders were known in the western Sahel and Sudan as, “Wangara and Sarakore (Sarakolli), and in the east as Kardawan and Garawan (Garamantes)…” (Bovill, 1929, ). The town of Jerma is later in fact called Karran or Garan after the Gorane or Garawan population still extant there.
      In the 6th century the leader John Troglita a general of Roman Africa had taken captives of the Mauri of Aurasium which Corippus had said were "black as crows". These Mauri were doubtless the Djarawa or Garawan some of whom had come to live in the Aures and were to make up according to "a huge proportion" of the Zanata Berbers according to Taha. In the 7th century their famous female leader al-Kahina "chief of the Djarawa"  in the Aures mountains in Tunisia had assembled all the Zanata of the region and swore to throw out all of the Arabians from Ifrikiya.  She was very much disturbed that Kusayla the Sanhadja (Tuareg) chieftain had imposed his rule over the region next to hers, had become powerful and then been defeated by the Arab newcomers. It is said by Ibn Khaldun and others that Kahina was a prophetess and priestess and that her people were of the Jewish or Hebraic faith.
      Norman Solomon, in the book, Judaism (2009), speaks of this “fearsome” Berber “princess” who’s citadel was at Bijaya or Bougie in Algeria which was also home to a considerable Vandal settlement. He states, “In what is now southeast Algeria was a powerful Berber tribe, the Jerawa, which had become Jewish. With Kahina at their head, the Jerawa defeated the Arab army of Hasan al Nu’man, holding up the Arab invasion of Africa and preventing its further progress into Spain” ( p. 44). 
     One thing that links many of the Zanata confederation of clans or kabilas together is the early tradition of being largely Judaized or Jewish.  "The Jewish Ifren Maghrawa" were in the Medieval period settled at Wargla and other places in the Maghreb (according to E.J. Brill's First Encyclopaedia of Islam, 1913-1936, Vol. 9, p. 1123)  The Maghrawa rule in Fes was seen as the golden age of Moroccan Judaism. (Park & Boum,  2006, p. 225). The book Two Thousand years of Jewish Life in Morocco or (Deux Mille Ans de Vie Juive au Maroc) that  in the valley of the Dra'a there had existed for a long time a linked conglomeration or chain of important Jewish communities that had existed for a long time.
       In addition the other major branch of the  Zanata Berbers called Nafousa are referred to by Ibn Khaldun as having been Jewish at the time of the conquest by the Arab Hassan al Nu'man (Sand, 2010, 202). The "brown skinned Ghuara" occupied the whole basin as far as beyond Tuggurt "wrote French adventuress Jean Pommerol at the turn of the 20th century.  “Tuggurt, a brown coloured town, inhabited by Ghuara, is very like Wargla in appearance” (Pommerol, 1900, p. 233, 241, 245).  In W.B. Hodgson’s translation of “Notes of a journey into the interior of Northern Africa” by Hadji Ebn ed-din el Eghwati we read: "Ghadames is a large town...the inhabitants speak the Berber language...Their complexion is black." Elsewhere it says, “The color of the population of Tuggurt is black, and they are called Erwagha" (Hodgson, 1831, pp. 18 and 22).  
        The Wargla oasis of the M'zab was apparently said to have been occupied by the ancient Garamantes in the time of Sallustius (Pommerol,  1900, p. 232) who refers to the people there as such. The descendants of the ancient Garamantes are now called the Ghuara, and occupy the Wadi Mia and the whole basin of the Wad Rir (Rig), as far as beyond Tuggurt (Pommerol,  1900, p. 232). Stefan Goodwin recalls the writings of Africanist George Murdock on the early peoples of the region of Mzab and other Saharan oases:  “Some records from classical antiquity indicate that oases as far north as Gadames in Tunisia and Guarara, Tuggurt and Wargla in Algeria were inhabited preponderantly by ‘black’ Africans with woolly hair who apparently were indigenous to the central Sahara and northern Africa at this time…”

Ghadames - ancient town of the Garamantes in the Libyan Fezzan
"Ghadames is a large town...the inhabitants speak the Berber language...Their complexion is black." From Notes on a Journey into the Interior of North Africa" W.B. Hodgson

Touggurt home of the Ghuara (or Jawara) Berbers

“Tuggurt, a brown coloured town, inhabited by Ghuara, is very like Wargla in appearance” (Jean Pommerol, Among the Women of the Sahara, 1900, p. 233, 241, 245)

       Robert Brown in his notes explaining Leo Africanus writings on Wargla (Ghuargela)  also claimed of  “Wargla and Tuat ” that  “the black races originally occupying those Saharan oases (were) driven south” only  “with the coming of the Libyan Tuareg” (Brown, 1896, p. 217  fn. 78).   The descendants of these Saharan commercants and traders Wangara or Songhai were said to have founded and ruled Ghana and Songhai  and Dar Tichitt.

Ghardaia in Mzab founded by Jewish Berbers turned Ibadites or Abadites fleeing Wargla

     The Ibadite Maghrawa fled to Ghardaia which they founded “Righ or Arigh derives its name from the Righa Berbers a group of the Maghrawa Berbers  belonging to the great Zenata family.”  (Lewicki, 1988, p. 154).
      Legends had it that Wargla was was built by King Solomon of Jersualem who was master of the winds and clouds and that the Queen Makeda of Sheba considered to be Candace of Nubia would often visit. (Pommerol, 1900, 230, 232). The Zaghai or Songhai traders claimed their ancestral dynasties to have come from Wargla of the M'zab region as well.  Interestingly Arthur Godbey in 1930 and earlier coloniliast observers spoke of  the inhabitants their saying, “in the Wargla Oasis of Algeria, 350 miles from the Mediterranean, is a colony of Jews ‘as black as Negroes'" (See also John Beddoe, On the Physical Characteristics of the Jews, Transactions of teh Ethnological Society of London, Vol. I. 1861, p. 234 ).
      The writer of Hebrewism of West Africa (1999) wrote what one documenter wrote of the Jews of Wargla and Mzab:
 "The most interesting is the group of Berber heretics called (Abadites) who in the 10th century fled from Mussulman. They established themselves in the desert and to this day have the most mysterious rites and customs.  Slouchz is of the opinion that these Jews of Mzab have best preserved the customs and manners peculiar to the Jews of Africa. He quotes the opinion of Dr. Huguet: 'The type of Biblical Jew has been preserved to a remarkable degree among the Jews of M'zab, and adds  'And indeed, in all of the district of the Sahara from Tripoli to Dra'a, the traveler could easily imagine himself transported into an ancient Jewish colony - a very primitive agricultural colony, for it has neither Cohaniim or Leviim, nor any written traditions. For many centuries these were the counterpart of the Jewish pre-Islamic settlements of Arabia, and today they are a marvelous survival of the Israel epoch of the Judges in the Wastes of the Great Desert.'" p. 209
Man of the town of Gourara north of Tuat - home of the Zanata Berbers
"The descendants of the ancient Garamantes are now called the Ghuara, and occupy the Wady-Mia with the whole of the basin of the Wady-R'ir, as far as beyond Tuggurt"  Jean Pommerol Among the Women of the Sahara (1900) p. 232.

  To be continued in Part II -  Zaghawa, Songhay, Wangara link to the emergent states across the Sudan...


See also the unique new blog -

Abun-Nasr, J. (1987). A history of the Maghrib in the Islamic period. Cambridge University Press.

Barthelemy, A. (1987). Black faced maligned race: The Representation of Blacks in English drama
            from Shakespeare to Southerne. Louisiana State University Press

Bovill, E.W. (1929). The Silent Trade of the Wangara.  Journal of the Royal African Society, 29(113),

Daniels, C. ( 1970 ) The Garmantes of southern Libya. Oleander Press.

Godbey, A. (1930). The lost tribes a myth: Suggestions towards rewriting Hebrew history. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Gruen, Erich S., (2011). Rethinking the Other in Antiquity. Princeton University Press.

Lewicki, T. (1988). The role of the Sahara and the Saharians in relationships between north and south. In Muammad Fāsī & Ivan Hrbek (Eds.). Africa from the Seventh to the Eleventh Century, (pp. 276-313) UNESCO. International Scientific Committee for the Drafting of a General History of Africa.

Pommerol, J. (1900).  Among the women of the Sahara.  

Retso, J. ( 2003 ).  The Arabs in antiquity: Their history from the Assyrians to the Umayyads. Routledge

Sands, S.  (2010). The Invention of the Jewish race. Resling.

Starks, J.H. (2011).  "Was Black Beautiful in Saharan Africa" in African Athena New Agendas

Williams, J.J.  (1999).  Hebrewisms of West Africa. Black Classics Press. (Reprint) 


Modern Algerians

Spanish rendition of the 1237 Battle of Puig  - Valencia (Balensiya)  Spain (Almohad "Moors" and Spaniards). Painted by Marsal/Marcelo de Sajonia (Saxon) between 1393 and 1410 

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