History of the Hyayna Tribal Confederation

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he Hyayna tribal confederation located northeast of Fes is composed of three major tribes: the Oulad Amran, the Oulad Alian and the Oulad Riab. This confederation, formed in the 16th century, consists of a graft of Banu Hilal Arab Guiche tribes, formerly Zianid allies before joining the Saadian army in their fight against the Ottomans, to an original Berber Sanhaja group.

Established strategically in the area of Fes by the Saadian dynasty, it aimed to protect the territory from foreign invasion and to control the rebel tribes.

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The Spanish chronicler Luis del Marmol Carvajal toured the country in 1540CE. A captive at first, he'll gradually forge good relationships with the sultanate. He paints a picture of a rich agricultural tribe that had 25 villages and supplied 4 000 fighters to the powerful Saadian dynasty.

These tribes not only accompanied the Saadians in their takeover of Fes, but also in its protection against the Ottoman invaders. Their most notorious contributions will be to the Battles of Wadi al-Laban against the Ottoman and the Battle of the Three Kings against the Portuguese.

The Hyaynas would therefore play a major role in Moroccan politics from the 16th century, with the Saadian Empire extending to Timbuktu.

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During the Alawite era, in 1860CE, the Hyayna tribes participated in the Battle of Tetouan against the Spanish Empire alongside Riffian tribes (among others). The Hyaynas will then be called upon by Sultan Abd el-Aziz against the impostor Rogui Bou Hmara.

In 1912, following the establishment of the French protectorate, the Hyayna attacked Fes with other tribes, especially Jbalas, under the orders of Mohamed Hajjami from El Jaia. This leader wrote to the tribes to encourage them to defend Moroccan territory, having also fought several battles against the French general Hubert Lyautey.

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The Saadians settled the Hyaynas in a region previously exclusively inhabited by Imazighen. Together with other influential Arabic-speaking tribes in the Guiche (army), they contributed to the strengthening of the linguistic Arabization of Fes.

They retained characteristics of Hilalian speech all while remaining influenced by Berber. In short, their dialect is quite similar to that of their Cheraga and Oulad Jamaa neighbors.

The Hyaynas are known for their olive oil production. For example, Alwan is a fairly famous olive oil that is produced using a traditional extraction process. These processes relate to an old culture in Morocco that began in Antiquity in the city of Volubilis.

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The Hyaynas are also known for their delicious preparation of the famous artisan bread, the harcha. This specifically Moroccan cake made from semolina, butter and milk has spread since the Middle Atlas.

The traditional music of the Hyayna is Hayt, a genre of ancient folk song. In this dance, the bendir is used, an instrument that is very common in Berber music. Ghayta is also used.

As in other Moroccan tribes, fantasia is an integral part of the Hyayna culture. The city of Tissa is known as the “mother of horses”, this city is famous for its big Fantasia festival, a very ancient equestrian tradition in Morocco. For the Hyaynas, the horse is a mark of social success and a basic element for their celebrations.

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Since the 19th century, the Hyaynas started celebrating a 15th century saint named Sidi Mohamed Ben Lahcen. This seasonal festivity coincided with the harvest season. Indeed, there is a culture of Idrisid saints and chorfas (people whose lineage can be traced back to the prophet). Many chorfas live with the Hyaynas (Janatyine, Ouazzanyine, Baqqalyine). Many “saints” are also buried in the region (Sidi El Mekhfi, Sidi Daoud).

The Moroccan Arabic-speaking tribal confederation has an estimated population of 200 000 members and represents one of the most important ethnic groups in the pre-Riffian region.

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Références :

The Conquest of Morocco, by Douglas Porch

On the linguistic continuity of pre-hilalian of the Jebli type beyond the territory of the Jebala, Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University of Fez, Fouad Brigui

Moroccans in the North: between memory and the project, Mohamed El Moubaraki

Man and his environment in the pre-Riffian hills of the “Hyayna”, University of Beni-Mellal, Saïd Arif

Notes on the tribes of eastern Morocco, notice prepared by intelligence officers from the Fez circle, Publication of the Morocco Committee