M’Hamid The tribe of Aarib

The tribe of Aarib


Nomadic Bedouin tribes from Yemen.

The Arabs colonized the Middle Drâa region in the middle of the 11th century. With them, nomadic Bedouin tribes, from YEMEN, began trading across the vast Saharan expanses, from Egypt to Morocco and Mauritania through Libya, Sudan, Niger, Algeria, and Mali
The birth of the nomadic tribal confederation of AARIB. Very quickly, to cope with the prevailing insecurity, they organized themselves into tribal confederations. Born from these alliances, the tribe of AARIB, strongly implanted in the region of Middle Drâa and founded the village of M’hamid in the sixteenth under the Sâadienne dynasty. This village became a caravan crossroad very important between Marrakech, Tindouf, and Timbuktu. Mostly there were dates, henna, almonds, and olives, but also gold and slaves from Sudan. There is also a trace of AARIB in Mali in TAOUDENNI and TOMBOUCTOU in the 18th century and in Algeria in the IGHIDI region in the 19th century.

The language of Sahrawis.

The Saharawi language is Hassaniya, derived from ancient Arabic. Very different from Berber, it contributes to the cohesion of the ethnic groups Indeed, the majority of the members of the nomadic tribes are illiterate and the rate of schooling remains very weak. Spoken language is its semantic precision and is, therefore, an essential element for the communication and survival of traditions. The ancestral method of the “Arab telephone” is an illustration of this. It is used daily and shows its effectiveness in the social and political organization. Oral messages are conveyed through shepherds, caravaneers, or other desert travelers. Information travels from encampment to encampment in fairly short periods of time and responses or responses to messages are returned in the same manner. The tribe can thus maintain permanent relations with its members.
Sedentarization and the decline of resources. But the geopolitical changes of the twentieth century have profoundly changed the life and ancestral traditions. The advent of the borders with Algeria and Mauritania and the independence of Morocco in 1956 have definitively put an end to the caravan trade and the transhumance of herds, condemning the nomads to sedentarization. The drought and the construction of the dam at the top of the valley near Ouarzazate have helped to isolate and disinherit a little more this region.

The social and political organization of AARIB.

At present AARIBs remain mostly in Morocco, in the Middle Drâa region between Zagora and M’Hamid and in the Western Sahara zone, as well as in Mali. With 15,000 members, or 1,500 tents, the confederation is divided into two major groups, “GRADBA” and “N’AMNA”, themselves subdivided into four tribes each.

The GRADBA group includes the tribes
Oulad Bouden,
The N’AMNA group includes the tribes
Oulad Rezeg.
The head of the AARIB nomad confederation, called CHEIKH, sits at M’Hamid, the last city before the desert. Each of the 8 tribes has representatives on the grand council, called M’EKADAM. These are consulted for each particularly important decision. Votes are taken unanimously and not by the majority. But the tribes themselves are socially and politically organized into a structured and fundamentally democratic community. The smallest community units are families, which are often numerous and ramified. Several families can already form a fraction and send alternatively voting delegates to meetings. Each tribe thus comprises very many representative fractions.

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