The Arab has built his social structure on the Koran, which inculcates absolutism, aristocracy, theocracy; the Berber, despite his nominal Mahommedanism, is a democrat, with his Jemda or " Witangemot " and his Kanum or unwritten code, the Magna Carta of the individual's liberty as opposed to the community's good.
The Berber's village is his state, and the government is vested in an assembly, the Jemda, formed of all males old enough to observe the fast of Ramadan.
The undue power of the Jemda is checked by vendetta and a sort of lynch law, and by the formation of parties (sofs), within or without the assembly, for trade, political and other purposes.
Every boy as soon as he reaches sixteen is brought into the Jemda and given weapons which he carries till he is sixty.
They are possessed of certain privileges, such as exemption from the chief taxes and the duty of bearing arms. They, however, often take a foremost part in tribal administration, and are frequently called upon to perform the office of arbitrators in questions of disputed policy, &c. In the Jemda, too, the Marabout at times takes the place of honour and keeps order.