A BRIEF HISTORY OF GNAWAS

The term "GNAWA" refers to a North African ethnic minority that traces its origins to West African slaves and soldiers. Gnawa communities in the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) trace their origins to Sudan, not meaning the present-day nation of Sudan, but rather, sub-Saharan Africa in general. Like the term "African-American," GNAWA refers to a general group of people whose ancestors came from diverse regions of Africa but took on a collective identity in exile. Historical documents make mention of a black African presence and musical tradition in North Africa as early as the eleventh century. 

Today, GNAWAS continue their tradition andcelebrate their song and dance with ceremonies and musical rituals that move their listeners to its hypnotic, ancient rhythms.

History of gnawas in pictures