In the latest report from Dutch news programme Nieuwsuur, reporter Jan Eikelboom visits the Amazighi who are finally able to speak their language again after 42 years. Freely, they can now sing, write poetry, write and present the news in their own language.
Narration: “Driving over the plateau of the Nafusa Mountains, the new Libyan anthem plays on the radio.
We’re on our way to Jadu, the capital of this region. Although it’s far from safe, the atmosphere is positive. The liberation means that the Amazighi people are finally able to express themselves in Tamazight.”
Reporter: “Tamazight is a language spoken by the Amazighi from Morocco to Libya, with its own vocabulary, grammar and its own alphabet. Now it can be written on the walls again, because in Gaddafi’s Libya Tamazight was forbidden.”
Singing: “As an animal in the forest I live, my father”
Narration: “Amazighi singer Yusuf Hafyana spent 8 years in prison, just because he sang in his mother tongue.
Singing: “With crying eyes you could see me now. You could see how my soul weeps with sorrow”
Hafyana: “The Amazigh were without rights all this time. They were not allowed to speak their language, or use it for cultural activities or publish a newspaper in this language. You could only use this language indoors with your family. But we wanted to write songs and poems in this language, so that they would not be forgotten. You have to keep your culture alive. Gaddafi was completely against this. We’ve had it very difficult”
Narration: “What was forbidden for 42 years, they’re now doing from the top of their lungs.
Children receive classes in Tamazight every day. In the open air, because schools are closed.”
Teacher: “We have nice songs. They all have to learn the Amazigh language. The inhabitants of the Nafusa Mountains are Amazighi. We must learn our language and develop it.”
Reporter: “Isn’t that difficult for them?”
Teacher: “It is a little, at the start. But the children learn fast. I am hopeful. They’re now learning the alphabet, then the words and then sentences. And soon they will write insha’Allah.
Girl: “I can speak Tamazight but it’s a little difficult.
Reporter: “Why difficult?”
Girl: “Because we never learned. We’ve only learned Arabic. Gaddafi didn’t let us learn anything.”
Reporter: “What are you writing?”
Reporter: “They’ve written here for us: “Libya Freedom”, free Libya. But they just had a discussion about how the letters were written precisely, it’s still a little strange. She said “Don’t look at my handwriting, it’s not very pretty yet”. But now it says here.. Libya Tagraula. That means free. Thank you. How do you say thank you in Tamazight?
Narration: “It’s not easy writing and speaking a language that has been forbidden for 42 years. At Radio Nafusa there have been broadcasts in Tamazight again since this week. Sometimes they have to search for the words.
Newsreader: “We continue with the news..”
Singer: “My father, come see my soul. Come see my soul, my father.”
Hafyana: “We have been liberated, we are now living in freedom. The whole area there is free. (Jadu, Nalut, Yefren,). We have a different flag and a different system. I hope the revolutionaries enter Tripoli and free all of Libya.”