Amine Merzouki: Preserving My Indigenous Heritage

Amine is from Algeria, and shares his unique perspective on identity and cherishing his origin and heritage. He discusses the rich cultural history of the indigenous Amazighen people, and his quest to preserve the language. After his mother passed away, Amine described how courage helped him bring down his own barriers. This story was produced in partnership with MALA, StoryCorps, and Benedictine University’s 2016 MEPI Program.


“Algeria, I mean, it’s a great country, it’s a big country, and having a chance to be Algerian is someone all Algerians are proud of. It is in the history of Algerians. Something I want to talk about, that most people think of people in Algeria as Arabs, but this is a different perspective for all of the people all over the world. People in Algeria forget about their origins, forget about their indigenous origins, which are the Amazigh people. I just want to tell a brief history about the Amazigh people, that are the people that have been in a great civilization, a long time ago, before Islamic civilization and before the Roman civilization. It’s a great civilization that has been created in North Africa and people in Algeria forget about it and it’s a little bit of a shame about the Algerian people.


So I would like to spread awareness about this civilization to the Algerian people. The first thing I think is that it has to begin with the people. The government of course has a hand to play, but the people need to be more proud of their origins. I mean, if you ask an Algerian person now, “Do you know your origins are Amazigh?”, he will say “No, I don’t think so, I’m more Arabic than I am Amazigh.” So the first step in awareness of the people, the people need to be more educated about the culture of Amazigh, need to be more proud of these origins. The second part part would be trying to seek knowledge for all the things that have been going on the Amazigh culture.


I mean, from personal perspective from my personal life, it has been really difficult for me because I lost my mother when I was 11. Actually I lost her the night before I had an exam, we call it the ‘6 exam,’ it’s like going from the primary school to the middle school, and it’s some kind of important exam that you have to be prepared and all the family needs to support you. And for me, that was  my mom. And that night, whether you go down or go up, it’s a point of changing. You take it positively or take it negatively and go down. I took it as a positive, and I tried really to think more about what I want. This is why I want more people to seek more about your dreams, do not let barriers hold you down. I mean, this is life. Things happen, bad things happen, but always try to be more courageous.”

Scroll to Top