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Libyans take steps to revive a native language

Libyan Berbers revive their language in class   -  
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The children at a school in Zwara in north-western Libya are learning the language of a once oppressed community.

Twelve years ago, under Muammar Gaddafi, the Amazigh community was condemned to a clandestine orality. 

Since Gaddafi's death in 2011 things changed.

"The Tamazight language is not just about the alphabet and vocabulary, but it's a whole culture and identity that we're passing (onto pupils, Ed.)", (...) "We try to instil in them (pupils, Ed.) the comprehensive Amazigh spirit", saidAssirem Shuwashi , Tamazight language teacher and presenter.

The first classes in Tamazight were held in Zwara in 2012

The school director tells us about "difficult beginnings" due to a lack of trained teachers and uncertainties around the program to follow.

"It's a difficult situation as it's a new language that's entering school curricula and our children don't know it. They speak it at home, but it's difficult for them to study and write the language because it's a new subject that has just entered the government's system", admits school director Sondoss Saki.

Also on air since 2012, Kasas FM is the first local radio station in Tamazight language broadcasting in Zwara.

"The people of Zuwara are Amazigh and they speak Tamazight. So the best and easiest way to reach citizens and convey information, messages and advertisements is to speak the language that they use at home, in the streets and at institutions, the closest and most comfortable language for them", affirms Ismail Abudib , programme director at Kasas FM radio station and architect.

There are 10% or so of Libyans who are Amazigh, a large indigenous population of the whole of North Africa, which was present long before the Greek, Roman and then Arab conquests in the 7th century.

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