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Cherifa -Berber Blues

Sunday, November 1, 2009 ·

While both are Amazigh (Berber) singing in their native and suppressed language of Tamazight, this Cherifa (last name Kersith) is not the Kabylie Algerian Cherifa who adapted Brahim Izzri's poignant folk standard "Chtedouyi" into a rave disco hit a few years ago, and is featured on the Berber compilation LA KABYLIE AU COEUR. This Cherifa has a deeper and huskier voice. She sticks to traditional music and instrumentation, and works in a different regional dialect of Tamazight spoken in her native Middle Atlas mountain range of Morocco. Her art is as much in her character-rich phrasing and improvisational verbal versifying within the women-made rules of the Ahuache and Ahiduth rituals, as in being straitjacketed into any confining modality. For Amazigh (Berber) women of the Atlas, the woman takes the role of griot feeding the male musicians cues for accompaniment, even as she conducts the tempo changes with the stamping of her feet. The CD booklet carries translations and an ignorant essay in French mistakenly identifying the source poetry as being translated from the Arabic. Cherifa is the actual poet, and she is improvising her verses in the ancient tribal tradition of Amazigh (Berber) Women who rate the men in her village and pick themselves a husband in the Ahuache tradition. There are also pieces from the Ahiduth worksong or devotional tradition, again composed by women (Arab society has nothing like this, one reason why the Imazighen, or plural of Berbers are so threatened by the Arabization of their native North Africa). These verses are in the Chleuh dialect that was commonly spoken by the Judeo-Berbers of Morocco, and in the Tashleheith dialect of Tamazight language spoken in the Middle to High Atlas mountain range that bisects most glorious North Africa between the dry Sahara and the deep blue Mediterranean sea. The producers of this CD in France have already pledged to correct the erroneous liner notes that misidentify this wealth of song and women's verbal virtuosity as being Arabic. The Tamazight language in both written form and oral history has been found in North Africa some 2200 years before the arrival of Arabic via the Islamic Conquest (Al Fatah). The matriarchal Amazigh (Berber) people were theist, pantheist, Judeo and Christian living in multi-cultural tolerance throughout the Greek and Roman invasions, and only converted en masse with the arrival of the ultimately victorious Umayyid armies dispatched from Syria in the year 700. The record producers include their e-mail address so if you get this marvelous recording and don't find a note on the errata or a correction properly identifying the source material and traditions as Amazigh, let them know we're still waiting. It wouldn't be such an issue if the native Tamazight language were not already an endangered language, not allowed to be taught in Moroccan schools, and Amazigh names not allowed to be given to newborn babies who all must be registered with only Arab names. [01]. Idhrdh Umalu Z Iâari (L'ombre de la forêt / The shade of the forest)
[02]. Maysh Yiwin May Tshawrth (Qui est ton conseiller / Who gives you counsel) [03]. Ndda S Adbib Nnani (Le toubib m'a dit / The doctor told me)
[04]. Ma Gn Tufit Amazir (Où as-tu élu domicile / Where have you chosen to live) [05]. Isul Isul Umarg Nsh Awadigi (Je suis encore nostalgique / I'm still full of longing)
[06]. ('Tahidust') Wllah Ar Thagh Lafiyt Usmun (Le cour en feu / My heart is aflame)


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