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A Glimpse of Tunisia: Arab Influence, Ancient Coliseums, and ‘Blackness’ in North Africa

Mar 19, 2022 06:00PM ● By Oga Africa

On March 20th, 1956, Tunisia gained independence from the French. To celebrate this North African country, we are exploring Tunisia’s Arab influence, the ancient city of Carthage, and the concept of ‘Blackness’ in regard to North Africa.

Tunisia is considered an Arab country due to its Islamic influence and geographical closeness to the Arab peninsula. The Arabs invaded Tunisia in the 646 CE, and converted the Amazinghs or Berbers, who are native to Tunisia, to Islam. 97% of the country is Sunni Muslim.

The ancient city of Carthage, which was once the most prosperous city in the region, fell to Rome in 149 BC and was established by Julius Caesar as a Roman colony until it fell in 146 BC. Many remnants of Carthage in Tunisia bear witness to its former glory, including cathedrals, coliseums, and intriguing mosaics in the country. 

Read “Tunisia Independence: Carthage, Women’s Rights and a Complex African Identity”:

Tunisia Independence Carthage Womens Rights and a Complex African Identity

Tunisia Independence: Carthage, Women’s Rights, and a Complex African Identity

Happy Independence Day, Tunisia! Today we are exploring the ancient city of Carthage, first president Habib Bourguiba’s women’s rights activism, and the influence this North African count... Read More » 


( El Jem Ampitheater. Colosseum. Image by Dennis Jarvis via Flickr)

Africa, also known as the ‘Cradle of Humanity’, is the continent with the most genetic diversity, including varying skin tones and identities that are complex, and marked by historical patterns, human evolution that occurred due to environmental exposure, and more. A University of Pennsylvania study on African skin tone varieties reported that varying skin color pigments have been in existence for between 300,000 and 1 million years, obscuring perceptions of ‘Black’ and ‘African’, which arguably can be referred to as modern concepts.

Indigenous Tunisians, who are Amazighs or Berbers, are mostly light in complexion, and many are mixed with Arab and European descent.

 ( A Berber man of Tunisia. Image by Paralingua via Wikimedia Commons )

Read “Exploring the Culture of Morocco for Independence Day”: 

A mother and child of the Berber Tribe in the Atlas Mountains Morocco Image by Dmitri Markine via Wikimedia Commons httpscommonswikimediaorgwikiFileBerber-Tribe-Moroccojpg

Exploring the Culture of Morocco for Independence Day

Happy Independence Day, Morocco! Although the country gained independence from France on November 5th, 1955, the country celebrates independence on November 18th, as King Mohammed returne... Read More » 


Global anti-Blackness has affected many communities in Africa, including in Tunisia, where the descendants of enslaved Africans report racism and prejudice by the Tunisian population. Slavery in Tunisia, which brought in enslaved populations from areas from South-of-the-Sahara Africa, was outlawed in 1846. In modern times, Black Tunisians comprise between 10% and 15% of the country. Some Tunisians who are descendants of enslaved populations have ‘Abid’, or ‘Slave’, or ‘Atig’ or ‘Liberated by’ attached to their name.

Have you ever visited North Africa? What was your experience?

Works Cited