Constituent assembly, usually regulating the village or clan but occasionally tribe or confederation; also the place where its members gather, usually daily.
The traditional form of governance in rural communities in North Africa, the djemaʿa (jamaʿa)consists of the heads of landholding families or lineages. Its head (amghar in most Berber-speaking areas) is chosen, usually annually, on a rotating basis by the members. Decisions are made by consensus, typically after considerable consultation. Its responsibilities include maintaining roads and paths, water and irrigation systems, and the local mosque and its school; hiring the school's teacher; ensuring hospitality for visitors; organizing community support for families needing manpower (especially in plowing and harvesting); organizing community festivities; assigning communal land to families for cereal production; and setting times and rules for wood collection, grazing, and beginning the harvest. In the past, the djemaʿa had greater judicial functions: In accordance with the local qanun —essentially a list of fines and punishments for a wide variety of misdeeds—it regulated community life and ensured equal justice, responsibility, and benefit.
See also Qanun.
thomas g. penchoen