Will the Couscous unite what the politics break up in North Africa ?

Apr 15, 2019 by

After disagreements over it’s country’s origin despite the consensus on its Berber identity, Algeria and Morocco agreed to join together in an alliance with Tunisia and Mauritania to submit a joint file to register the couscous on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The absence of Libya to the alliance of Maghreb countries is intended to not be covered under the UNESCO convention on immaterial Heritage, but it will be added to the claim file in case of joining the treaty.

The couscous is a common heritage between the Maghreb and North African countries, whose origin is Amazigh. The couscous was found by the indigenous peoples of North Africa before being divided into countries, where it was found in Egypt, Mauritania, Libya, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

The couscous dates back to the period 202-148 BC, where cooking vessels similar to those used in the preparation of couscous were found in tombs dating back to the period of King Massinissa (238 BC-148 BC).

King Massinissa is the unified kingdom of Numidia, with its capital, Cirta (Constantine province today), which includes northern Algeria and parts of Tunisia and Libya.

Many travelers and historians, including the French historian Charles André Julian (1891-1991), wrote in his book “The History of North Africa” : The Berbers were known throughout the ages for the strength of their structure and their age. The peasants ate couscous since the Roman era and the livestock breeders did little to sacrifice their animals, but only the goats’ milk, and they influenced fishing, snail and honey, and drank nothing but water.

The Maghreb countries are seeking to include the traditional “couscous” dish on the World Heritage List for the first time in order to record it as a Maghreb Human Heritage. This is the first time that Maghreb countries have sought to classify a common heritage on the heritage list.

According to its regulations, UNESCO requires that any heritage be included in the World Heritage List, must provides the expression of the communities’ sense of belonging and ownership towards the cultural component, which is represented by the couscous among the peoples of the Maghreb.

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