What is meant by Tiwizi ?


Tiwizi is a practice which springs from ancestral practices of Amazigh people who are dubbed Berbers by the Roman colonizer through which solidarity and its spirit are manifested and seen in reality taken forms of helping and being helped by others especially in the agrarian works, be it labors or harvests.

It is spread in Tamazgha, countries of Amazighs from Libya to Morocco up to Mali as well as to Niger, this practice consists in the contribution of all the community’s members towards the execution of a task, for instance: the labours and the harvests in the piece of land of one member or in the pieces of land of other members. The villagers bring their cattle namely oxen and donkeys as well as their agricultural tools to carry out the labours in the fields or in the field of a villager.

In summer, the inhabitants bring their donkeys to threshing wheat in the grounds belonging to one member, and do the same thing successively on other grounds till the whole work is carried out. So, it is about a shared form of aid destined to an individual but which takes a configuration of a collective aid to the whole community and to the whole works since the member helped by the community is expected to help in turn the members who have not yet achieved the same work.

Tiwizi has another aspect it includes all the works which have a common interest for the community, for instance, in the cleaning of rivers or in the canalizations of water or in the task of dam fortifications as well as in the cleaning of the village’s spring so that the whole community contribute to the development and to the tidiness of their environment and these tasks are done in turn.

Tiwizi drives us to know the wit and the practice of the social life within the Amazigh societies which goes beyond what is known among others, it is based on values and ethics. In fact, the integration in these societies depended on the extra-economical factors which remind us of the spirit of what is called ‘the gift and the gift against’.

Tiwizi then is the act of putting into practice the perceptions which found the amazigh society, it is even the structuring factor of these societies of abundance where the redistribution plays a fundamental role and where the scarcity of the means trigger off the mechanism of the mutual assistance between people/groups so that the way of life/the production reproduces not only by the creation of necessary goods to the community but also by the reproduction of amazigh values and ethics.

Certain societies, qualified others for anthropology, especially know this kind of noncommercial mechanisms as regards gift and counter gift, in this case the potlatch at the Indians. This phenomenon has its corollary in the field of the management of the businesses of the community by the consecration of the capacity of the cheffery as a merit or a privilege. It is conditioned by the capacity to collect the richness and of then being able to redistribute it to the members of the community. At Amazighs, the sphere of the capacity is consisted the authority of Tajmaat or the assembly of the village where the decisions are made unanimously in a participative step. This same participative essence finds its continuity within Tiwizi and thus buckles the integrating mechanisms of the society. The political, the economic one, the social one, etc are enchased one in another in the circle of equality, equity, peace and freedom.

Colonization has largely contributed to the destruction of Tiwizi by dispossessing the Amazigh of their grounds (agrarian or pastoral) which are the base of the activity and the source of survival of the Berber. The process of spoliation continued after what is called "independence", which process was accentuated with the phenomenon of the population growth (the factors of production did not manage to provide for the needs of the community), the rural migration, the absence of true national policy of development of the amazigh areas which had as a consequence the disintegration of much of socio-economic structures and socio cultural whose Tiwizi is one of the most important; however, its spirit and its essence remain still anchored in amazigh mentalities which appear in the common sense and daily ethics by generosity, decency, altruism, etc

Translated by Omar Touali