Yes, there are black Tunisians!
GHOSBA, Medenine region — Even after the revolution of 2011, many Tunisians in the north of the country are unaware that in the south-west there are whole communities mainly made up of black families. Ghosba is the largest, set on stony soil, with poor transport links and few jobs.
With little else to do, the young men sometimes get into fights at wedding celebrations with others from different lineages. This young man had been held in the police station for a couple of days. He arrived back home in style in the back of a pick-up truck, as the women and children came out to greet him.
There are also families of Berber origin, and the older women of Ghosba often wear the triangular brooches that go back centuries among North African Berbers (Amazighen).
Ghosba is known for its traditional wedding musicians, who used to compose new poems for each summer’s wedding season. The poems would retail political news for a population that was often illiterate. Seen here seated with his son, Mr Rahal recites some passages dating back to the time of independence from France in 1956. Tunisia’s first post-independence president, Habib Bourguiba, remains a revered figure for him.
The younger generation are not in a hurry to follow in the steps of their fathers and grandfathers as wedding musicians. The tradition is often seen as a heritage of slavery days — although the best-known groups on Djerba nowadays charge serious money to perform at weddings of the island’s elite.