The Black kings of Morocco

Till at least the 8th century, Maghreb was as black as sub Saharan Africa. The men among that indigenous population contributed to the glory of the region, particularly Morocco. This hidden part of black history is a key element to be included in the African historical heritage.

Reminders

To understand what will be said here, it is absolutely essential to collect information about the steps of settlement in Northern Africa. To summarize, Blacks have lived ever since in Maghreb and represented the majority of the population during the Roman and Arab domination period. The ones who were called Berbers in the beginning were those Blacks.

Berbers, also called Moors, as the Europeans saw them in Spain and Portugal Left: Illustration, unknown author Right, up: Moorish royal court in Spain (Source : Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat) Right, down: Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain (Source : The Golden Age of The Moor, édité par Ivan Van Sertima, page 29)
Berbers, also called Moors, as the Europeans saw them in Spain and Portugal
Left: Illustration, unknown author
Right, up: Moorish royal court in Spain (Source : Jean Philippe Omotunde for Africamaat)
Right, down: Moorish dignitaries playing chess in Spain (Source : The Golden Age of The Moor, édité par Ivan Van Sertima, page 29)

Actually, it is the slave trade of white people from Europe by the Arab Muslims and the Turkish presence which might have changed the face of Maghreb to the extent that we know nowadays. This point was explained in details here. According to BBC, almost 1,250,000 white Europeans are alleged to have been enslaved in Maghreb and Libya between only 1530 and 1780 [1].

The black and Arab dynasty of Idrisids (from 789 to year 1000)

It is in the context of the Muslim invasion in Africa that Arabs entered the black continent in 639 and submitted Maghreb a couple of decades later. It is an Arab called Idris who founded the first Moroccan dynasty, the Idrisids’. He died, leaving behind his pregnant Berber (then black) spouse. She gave birth to Idris II who expanded his father’s power all over the region.

The latter’s son, King Mohammed is presumed to have had an African mother as well. The Idrisid dynasty, mainly an African and Arab one, distinguished itself through an architectural work in the city of Fes and the expansion of Islam. It declined till disappearing around year 1000. It is truly the following Almoravid dynasty that made Morocco shine.

The black dynasty of Almoravids (1060-1147)

The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black Source : Wikipedia
The Christian Spanish King Peter of Aragon, receiving the decapitated crowned heads of four Moorish rulers of the Almoravid dynasty. We can see that the heads are excessively black
Source : Wikipedia

In Western Sahara, King Yahya Ibn Ibrahim, trying to islamize his subjects, brought back a religious leader called Ibn Yacin who failed to convert them. Yacin was expelled by the people and run away towards the Senegal River where he was more successful. Finally, having enough followers, he led a Jihad in the region and baptized his followers Almoravids, that is to say the faith fighters. Abu Bakar, another Almoravid leader set up an empire expanding from Morocco to the Senegal River through the war.

He appointed his cousin Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, regent of the North-West. The latter conquered the former capital city of Fes and a part of Algeria. After leading a Jihad which destroyed the powerful vitalist (animist) Empire of Ghana in 1075, Abu Bakar returned to Morocco. There, he could not anything but swearing allegiance before the confirmed power of his cousin Yusuf Ibn Tachfin who founded the city of Marrakech. Tachfin is described in those times documents as a brown skinned and wooly haired man [2]. The latter responded to the call for help of Blacks and Arabs threatened by the Christians of Europe.

The Almoravid empire Source : Wikipedia
The Almoravid empire
Source : Wikipedia

The Northwestern Africa’s regent conquered Spain. He set up a gigantic empire which included Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, Western Sahara and Mauritania with Marrakech as a capital city. That Black man is, from this point of view, one of the greatest conquerors in the history. The Moroccan historiography concludes that it is with the Almoravid dynasty that actually started the imperial period of Morocco, even the birth of Morocco in short words. It was therefore two black men, Abu Bakar and above all Yusuf Ibn Tachfin who founded the imperial Morocco. The Almoravid dynasty distinguished itself through a monumental architectural work in Morocco. They were blown away by the 3rd dynasty of Almohads.

Architectural jewels of the Almoravid kings in Morocco and Algeria
Architectural jewels of the Almoravid kings in Morocco and Algeria

The Black dynasty of Almohads (1147-1269)

The history of that dynasty started with a Masmuda Berber called Ibn Tumart, educated in Spain under the African domination. The British historian Bernard Lewis reports the words of the Arab commentator Abu Shama, who was describing Masmudas as Blacks [3]. Ibn Tumart ended up contradicting the Muslim doctrine and created the Almohad movement that is to say unifiers who were rejecting Islam characters other than Allah.

He went so far to the extent of challenging the king Ali Ibn Yusuf during public debates in Marrakech, assaulting his sister because she was unveiled. Considered as radical, he was banned from Marrakech. He took refuge among his people and lived in a cave, going out only to preach the unity of God according to his conception. Having enough followers, he led a war against the Almoravids. At his death, it was finally his lieutenant Abd Al Mu’min who put an end to the Tachfin dynasty.

The Almohad empire
The Almohad empire (Wikipedia)

The new king – Berber from Algeria – conquered the Northern part of Algeria, Libya till the borders of Egypt. His grandson Yakub Al Mansur conquered Spain, softened the religious radicalism of his predecessors and found the intellectual and greatness of Almoravids. One of Abd-al-Mu’min’s sons is described by an Arab poet who saw him as a Black skinned man [4]. Al Mansur’s mother is described as a Negress [2] and Yakub Al Mansur himself was described as a brown skinned man [2]. Therefore, it is exclusively Blacks who are at the origin of the Almohad dynasty.

Architectural jewels of the Almohad kings in Morocco
Architectural jewels of the Almohad kings in Morocco

The black founders of the Alawite dynasty (From 1664 till today)

Before the Alawite dynasty that is currently ruling Morrocco, The Maranids and the Saadis or Saadians which are Berber dynasties, ruled over Morrocco. These dysnaties contributed a great deal intellectually and on the architectural level in Morrocco. Moreover, they apparently experienced the whitening of Morrocco, because the distinction Black-White was already in existence at the birth of the Alawite dynasty.

Mulay Rachid, King of Morocco in the 17th century. He is the founder of the Alauite dynasty that rule Morocco until now. He was unmistakably black. The civilization of Imperial Morroco with its magnificent cities like Marrakech and Meknes, is mostly the result of Black dynasties. Source: British Royal Collection royalcollection.org.uk
Authentic portrayal of Mulay Rachid, founder of the Alawite dynasty that rule Morocco until now. He was unmistakably black.
Source: British Royal Collection royalcollection.org.uk

Concerning the Alawite dynasty, it was founded by Mulay Rachid, a man coming from an Arabized tribe of Morocco. Records show that there is an authentic picture or portrait of the man who is perfectly a Negroid. Therefore, it is a black-skinned man who actually founded the Moroccan royal dynasty to which belongs King Muhammad VI. Mulay Rashid’s brother, born to an enslaved black women is Mulay Ismail. Mulay Ismail is deemed to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest king in Morocco’s history. He is the direct ancestor of Morocco’s current King.

With 55 years, Mulay Ismail’s reign was the longest in history. He was a fierce warrior and a conqueror, supported by 150,000 black slaves –said Abid Al-Bukhari- whom he bought or abducted, and made powerful. He trusted them. He was also a builder, thanks to his 25,000 European slaves. The historians even talk about racial solidarity between the king and his black warriors, which let us think that Morocco was already whitened at that point in time.

The king was moreover under the influence of his first wife, Laila Richa nicknamed Morocco’s Empress, whom a French religious described as “black, ugly” and “cruel”, “authoritarian, wicked [5]. After the king’s death, his sons would quarrel over the throne in the midst of succession conflicts. All was orchestrated by black slaves who were definitely crushed down. At the end of the 18th century, it was the half cast and with the flow of white slaves, whites, who would reign over this country till today.

Mausoleum of Mulay Ismael in Meknes, built in his lifetime
Mausoleum of Mulay Ismael in Meknes, built in his lifetime

What can we conclude from all this?

Authentic portrayal of General Bassa, who did a lot for Mulay Ismael's victories Source : The Golden Age of The Moor, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, page 369
Authentic portrayal of General Bassa, who did a lot for Mulay Ismael’s victories
Source : The Golden Age of The Moor, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, page 369

We clearly see that Blacks inaugurated the Moroccan imperial era and founded at least 3 of the 6 Moroccan royal dynasties. They brought Morocco to his political height through the Almoravid and Almohad dynasties; furthermore they were without any doubt present within the 3 others dynasties. Cheikh Anta Diop used Sahara as a distinctive separation line between a so called “black” Africa and the Maghreb supposed to be white. We know today that that barrier must disappear.

There was a racial continuity from both sides of Sahara, but a cultural discontinuity between the sub-Saharans who stayed –the most part- authentically African on the cultural level and the first Berbers who were strongly arabized. Everything is not perfect about those glorious ancestors, who actively collaborated to the Arab slave trade of the Blacks and enslaved Whites in collaboration with Arabs for the production of wealth; incompatible behavior with black culture, that needs to be condemned totally and which are due to the Arab contamination.

Falsified illustration of Mulay Ismael. How come a man with a brother on his father’s side, and a mother who were both black can look like this? He was described by a French priest as a man « almost black with a white spot on the face » [6]
Falsified illustration of Mulay Ismael. How come a man with a brother on his father’s side, and a mother who were both black can look like this? He was described by a French priest as a man « almost black with a white spot on the face » [6]

Whatever the case may be, since the Whites of Maghreb do not want their black ancestors, Blacks of Africa must accept them as part of their heritage.

All of this shows the predominant contribution of Blacks in Norh Africa’s civilizations. We are hence at the origin of Vitalist civilizations (animist) of ancient Egypt and Carthage which were exclusively black. The Moorish civilization in Spain and imperial Morocco – though they benefited from Arabs’ contributions – are also black civilizations. It’s strictly the truth.

PS: Since the writing of this article, we were able to update the black characteristic of the Saadian dynasty (1554-1660) who took over the power in the context of Spanish and Portuguese occupations of Morocco. The founder was Muhamad as Sheikh. His son and fourth king Abd Al Malik was described by the Portuguese Luis De Oxeda as a man with “a flat and short nose”, with thick lips… grey complexion (that we must consider as another shade of dark black skin) [7].

Another of the sons of the founder was Mulay Muhamad’s father, who is himself described by the Portuguese as a “barbarian Moor”, “cursed Moor”, “unfaithful Moor”, “Black in his appearance and bloodthirsty in his acts” [8]. Like we said several times, the term “Moor” in those times’ language means Black. Mulay Muhamad’s son was born to a Fulani mother according to the Malian columnist Abderahmane Sa’adi [9]. Named Ahmad Al-Mansur, that man described as black by the Portuguese Fray Luis Nieto [10], is considered as the father of modern Morocco for expelling Europeans from his territory. It is him who destroyed the Songhai Empire in 1591, ending a 1200 years of glorious history of the Niger River’s bend; he had with his black spouse Lalla Djuhar [11], Zidan Abu Maali and Mulay Abdullah Abu Faris, hence both black kings. Zidan’s sons, at least half cast, followed each other on the throne before the last king Ahmad el Abbas on whom we don’t have any information. Therefore, the Saadian dynasty was almost entirely black.

The Medersa Ben Yusuf, named after the black king Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, built by the king Abdallah, whose brother Abd Al Malik and son Mulay Muhamad were both described as black
The Medersa Ben Yusuf, named after the black king Yusuf Ibn Tachfin, built by the king Abdallah, whose brother Abd Al Malik and son Mulay Muhamad were both described as black

Errata: we omitted the Wattasid dynasty who reigned before the Saadians.

Hotep!

By: Lisapo ya Kama © (All rights reserved. Any copying or translation of the text of this article is strictly forbbiden without the written approval of Lisapo ya Kama)

Notes :

  • The Golden Age of the Moor (l’Age d’or du Maure), edited by Ivan Van Sertima
  • Histoiredumaghreb.com
  • Wikipedia.com
  • Black Morocco : a history of slavery, race and Islam, Chouki El Hamel
  • Herodote.net
  • Histoire de l’Afrique noire (Black Africa’s history), Joseph Ki-Zerbo, pages 113 to 116
  • Noir et Fier
  • [1] BBC
  • [2]The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, page 374
  • [3] Idem, page 57
  • [4] Idem, page 55
  • [5] Voyage de Constantinople pour le rachat des captifs, Guillaume Jehannot, page 70, 71
  • [6] The Golden Age of the Moor, edited by Ivan Van Sertima, page 371
  • [7] La bataille de l’Oued el-Makhâzen, Pierre Berthier, page 55
  • [8] Document of Universidade Nova de Lisboa, page 31
  • [9] Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire, John Hunwick, page 258
  • [10] Ahmad al-Mansur, Islamic visionnary; Richard Lee Smith, page 19
  • [11] Program of African studies, Northwestern University, page 9
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