`Assou Ou Baslam

   His full name was `Aissa Ou `Ali n'Aït Baslam. He was born in the village of Taghya at the foot of the Saghro Mountain massif, the heartland of the Aït Atta confederation. His father was the community leader of the Ilamshan clan, the amghar n'tmazirt. In 1919, `Assou became a clan leader, and he is believed to have shown from an early age a hostile attitude toward French colonial schemes and their collaborators' designs on Aït Atta land, especially the Glawi family. In the early 1920s, he was one of the first Aït Atta members who resisted the French presence in southern Morocco. He turned his fort in Taghya nIlamshan into a site of resistance. In 1932, he was elected the amghar nuflla, or the top chief. In the Saghro Mountains, `Assou and like-minded men harassed the Glawi collaborators. In 1933, Glawi and his collaborators called on the French to put an end to the Aït Atta resistance. On 21 February 1933, the French armed forces attacked the Jbel Saghro in what is called the Jbel Bou Gafr Battle and in which Aït Atta's short-lived mountainous guerilla tactics outshone the French military power. The initial French setback was quickly reversed by the devastating French bombardment of villages, tents, and herds. Fighting intensified, turning the waters of the Aqqa Noulili Creek bloody red, testifying to the resolution of men, women, and children to defend their dignity and the honor of the tribe and the herd. The savage battle of Bou Gafr left 2,000 casualties and a drastically reduced herd size from 25,000 to 2,500 head (Huré 1952, 118). On 25 March 1933, `Assou and his fighters came down from the mountains and surrendered. Despite the defeat, he put down his arms with conditions that the Glawi authority would not be imposed on the Saghro area, and he obtained the assurance from the French authorities that the customary law, or azerf, of the Aït Atta would be applied in his land. These conditions were accepted by the French. In 1933, he was made caid of Ikniwn Bureau by the French, a post he held until his death in 1960. He was one of a tiny handful of tribal caids who survived the transfer of power in 1956.

Historical Dictionary of the Berbers (Imazighen) . . 2014.

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