Beyond Figig

Abdurrazzak Ajaja 
Email: A. Ajaja


Montreal, Quebec, Canada
December 15, 2006.

Mountains, date palms, pure air and calmness are still present here. They are the old main things that they have never been changed.
It was a time when At-Ufiyyay (Figig's people) were living in their own, and the land was very thriving as it says the idiom "Beyond Figig". This time is over.
Between palm trees, others fruits and vegetables were planted. Food came from Iyran (garden). Each family bred a little herd sheep in house to provide milk and meat.
Little boys were already productive by helping parents to accomplish some tasks. Everyone had a role and everything had a meaning.

 Picturesque landscape

Mammar Ukudi
    This is an Iyraan (garden) named Maamar Ukudi; almost well kept. The date palm (Tazdayt, plural Tizdayin) is chiefly Aziza. Some Al-Asyan and Tigharasin are planted here as well. It is irrigated by nine (9) Tghirin (Tighirt stands for 45 minutes per two weeks) of Ali-w-Aamar ifli (water from its source).
From little Iyranat; came dates, fruits and vegetables for people. Grass, weed and lucerne were used to feed the in-house herd sheep. Manure was transported on the donkey's back to Iyranat in order to fertilize garden soil.
No garbage! everything is recycled.

In the near surroundings, the soil was used to sow wheat (Tasharza). This completed the necessary needs we had in order to live decently.
To gain more space to cultivate, we built Tidunawin (walls with stones and soil) over the Jorf. The private property of each owner is shown by Timusagh (built with soil). Trespassing was not allowed and unthinkable anyway.

    Jorf, sort of a salt mountain is about 1 kilometer long and 50 meters high. It is often the favorite place for pigeons and bees to take nests; scorpions and snakes as well.
It belongs to At-Lamiiz, At-Sliman and Iznayen. It is a line between high-Figig and low-Figig. Taanount, Alaakbat and Azru are the principal ways between them.
In the north of the high-Figig region, just some meters after the pass which is the main entrance to Figig, all of the Tittawin (the water sources) of Iflan are there. Digging only 10 meters could lead to water.

To conduct Aman (water) from Tit (source) to Iyran, the system Ifli (Plural Iflan) is used. That is water that comes the long of Lakbawat (underground channels); then in Tiragwin (Targa stands for channel).
Irrigate a little Iyran needs some Tighirin. But if it comes for someone to Kan (close) water at night or if someone prefers to postpone irrigation, Shwaraj (Sharij stands for basin) are the essential place to store water. It is built with stones and cement (lime before).
In the most cases, the owners of Tanita (12 hours/ 2 weeks) of water own a water basin. A Sharij is also used as a swimming pool for kids; if they have permission to swim, of course.

Tazakka Ntrasiyt
    Big or small, the crop must go to Tiddart (house); especially dates have to be compressed in Tikhuby (big containers made with burnt soil) in order to stay fresh during a whole year until the new ones are harvested.
Figig is a set of seven different communities. They are: At-Wadday, At-Amar, At-Lamiz, At-Sliman, At-Nnaj, At-Addi, Iznayen. A territory of a community is called Aghram (plural Igharmawan) that is a fortified group of houses.
Near the entrance of each Aghram, rose a tower (Tazakka Ntrasiyt) where someone was keeping watch on the surroundings, in order to protect Aghram. Big doors on the main entrances were used to be closed at night. Engineering of Aghram is designed as a maze in order to have only few entrances.

The presence of the French in Figig from 1904 to 1956 had some influences in the life of AtUfyyay. Tower haven't their roles any more. To settle an issue, from now on, the place where to be is Lbiru (Bureau) which is set in the middle of Figig, over the Jorf, where the main church still takes place.
This French new and stern administration decided everything and ruled the roost. Minds have changed. People bequeathed their decisions to the Irumian, the french new comers; the hard hearts.
Once pulled out, The French succeeded to leave entangled dependence.

    Akharbish (School), often was held near a mosque, the place where one learns Lkuraan (Kuran), has not been the trend since the arrival of the French. The tendency is to go to a modern french school where one can learn French language; the Jean De Lafontaine fables.
Speaking Tmazight, at the age of seven, entering a school for the first time to learn French and Arabic; compelled pupils to deal with three languages at the same time. Big challenge!
The wanted circumstances have made the fact that learning French was, and still is, the straight way to earn notoriety and prestige. Akharbish collapsed and Arabic language lags behind.

Inside of an Aghram, the way (Abrid) is a sort of circuit that lead to the main entrances. Some houses were extended by building rooms over the way. The related part of the way becomes a hall (Askif. The feminine word Taskift is the place where to store human manure).
Houses (Tidriwin) are built with soil mainly. Two essential parts of a date palm are used to make a roof (Tizidin: Fourth part of its trunk cut in height) and Tikachba (head of its leaf called Taratta, plural Tiradwin).
The structure of Igharmawan remains the same even though electricity, water, new windows and doors have been added and changed.


    We can find some squares inside Aghram. They are a kind of places that were used to make gatherings or to exhibit merchandise (chiefly Udi: cooked butter, Ibrassa: dried milk, and Douft: sheep wool) brought by arab nomads coming from the surroundings .
This time is now over. Even some parts of houses were rebuilt in cement, Aghram is no longer the same, not well-stocked as before. The remained people want more space; something new outside Aghram. The administration formed by sixteen men (At-Sataash) of each Aghram were in charge to sell lands. People took the advantage of low prices to build a kind of ranches of three hundred kilometer square, in average.

The materials used to build houses were taken from the land itself, that is what it was available. Walls and pillars (Ssiriyat) are made with soil; roofs with the parts of the date palms covered with soil. In the more cases, houses are duplexes. Windows were not set inside or outside houses; just kiwat (little opening). Indoors, there was always a place to feed a sheep. The richest people had also one or two cows; and a donkey (Aghyul, Plural Ighyal), which was the essential means of transport to Iyran. All was in equilibrium and in harmony.
At-Ufiyyay have left Aghram to leave outside; leaving behind them an Aghram that is falling in desolate ruins.

They are still, nevertheless, some houses inhabited inside Aghram by Aaraban (arabs) coming from the surroundings. Most of them became Ikhammassan (farmers taking the fifth part of the crop) trying to do their best.
There are two main At-Ufiyyay classes:
The first is the retired people from Europe (France essentially) who have the means to build new and modern houses (ranches) outside the fortifications and even to dig wells to irrigate Iyranat; just for some dates and for the sake of it. The steady income they deserve maintains their mind at rest.
The second class is our generation, their children who left Aghram and Ifiyyay; and even the country. Young UFiyyay is very scarce in Figig.

Thanks to the progress, we built new houses with cement and steel. Indoors, electricity, gas, phone, and especially cell phone, miscellaneous and multitude digital satellite programs, and even high speed Internet are available.
The satellite programs are the principal source to stay abreast of news around the world. Internet is not a buzz word any more. It is a reliable window toward other realities. For the remaining young in Ajanna (High Figig), the only cyber shop, near LBiru, is an on-line software games place and a reliable news desk.

 Sidi Hiba

 Sidi Shadli
Something is sure. Our saint scholar predecessors are here forever. Their domes covering their graves stand. They are blessed for their belief and for their behavior. They were the guides of our grand parents. We have, without any doubt, in ourselves, something from them. We are proud of them. Thanks to them, we can just think that we have learned from them.

Meanwhile, AtUfiyyay (Figig Mazigh people) we can find in Figig are the lucky retirees from France, some administrators and very few dependent teenagers looking for an escape. The other part of the inhabitants are Aaraban who come from the surroundings.
The next generation of the new comers will be, seemingly, the new occupants of Figig. Greetings!
But, when there will be no retiree in Figig, where will tomorrow’s funding come from?

 New generation

Rabia and Khalid

Khalid is a young Ufiyyey. He has earned his Bachelor's Degree in Law . Rabia is a young Tufiyyayt. She has earned her College Baccalaureate . Both of them, as many others, are the force for a virtual nation. Educated and without job, they hope to do like the immigrants; leave Figig and the country. They are searching for a home where to realize their potential and make their hopes a reality. The dream, which is fulfilled for others when things were straightforward, is to immigrate to Europe and North America. As they are neither rich to go to the west countries as investors or as phony students to become resident thereafter; nor have a job to get a famous visa or go stowaway and vanish somewhere, nor have abroad someone to get married to; winning the lottery to Maryland, USA; they really hope so!