I was just struck by a fragment in Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid (1902) discussing the social and political structure of a Berber people in northern Algeria. The communally organized, ‘barbarian’, Kabyles, according to the anecdote cited below, hospitably fed refugees from the 1867 Northern African famine. Quite unlike the civilized Europeans, muses prince Kropotkin.
As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
We thus come across a custom which is familiar to the students of the mediaeval merchant guilds. Every stranger who enters a Kabyle village has right to housing in the winter, and his horses can always graze on the communal lands for twenty-four hours. But in case of need he can reckon upon an almost unlimited support. Thus, during the famine of 1867-68, the Kabyles received and fed every one who sought refuge in their villages, without distinction of origin. In the district of Dellys, no less than 12,000 people who came from all parts of Algeria, and even from Morocco, were fed in this way. While people died from starvation all over Algeria, there was not one single case of death due to this cause on Kabylian soil. The djemmâas, depriving themselves of necessaries, organized relief, without ever asking any aid from the Government, or uttering the slightest complaint; they considered it as a natural duty. And while among the European settlers all kind of police measures were taken to prevent thefts and disorder resulting from such an influx of strangers, nothing of the kind was required on the Kabyles’ territory: the djemmâas needed neither aid nor protection from without.
Quoted from: Peter Kropotkin, Mutual aid. A factor of evolution. Dover Publications, 2006 .