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Kafaraka is located 80 kilometers to the north of Beirut, 17 kilometers to the south of Tripoli and 11 kilometers to the east of Shikka in the south east of Koura district. It rises 350 to 375 meters above the sea level. Kafaraka is bordered by Btran, Dhur al-Hawa and Bsarma to the north, Kousba to the east, and Amioun and Kafarsaroun to the west. It is connected to the coast by the Shikka- Arz and by Kafaraka-Tripoli highways. It covers an area of 5600000 square meters. Kafaraka was built mainly on three hills: the hill of Saint Nouhra, the hill of Saint John and the hill Saint Georges.
The linguists agreed that Kafaraka is a Syrian- Aramaic name. Composed of two words: Kafar and Aka. "Kafar" means village. Linguists revealed different interpretation of the word “Aka”. For Ibrahim Al Aswad, “Aka” means sorrow. For Joseph Hobeika and Isaac Armele “Aka” means necklace, jewelry and the chain of gold. Dr. Anis Freiha supported the second opinion without refuting the first one while Dr. Emil Yaakoub confirmed the opinion of Hobeika and Armele.
Before the Crusades
The Roman architecture of the ancient monastery of Saint Nouhra in Kafaraka, the crusade architecture of the monastery of saint Georges, the existence of the Palace of Nawous, the largest Roman temple in Mount Lebanon, on the neighboring hill and the mentioning of the name of Amioun village in the letters of “Tel Amarna” give solid evidences that the area has been inhabited since very long time. Kafaraka gained strategic importance over the history because of its location at the entrance of the Qadisha Valley linking the Lebanese coast to Cedar forest in Bsharri. Before the crusade era, no available historical books clearly mentioned Kafaraka. However, historical events were carried out on its land. According to the historians Al-Dweihi and the Al Samaani, the division of the Oriental Christians between “Romans” and “Maronite” around 694 started in Kafaraka. The dispute was political rather than ideological. It began in Constantinople between the king Justinian and his rival, Commander Leon; following the signing of an agreement between the Byzantine king Justinian and the Umayyad Kalifa Abdul Malik bin Marwan. The agreement consisted of total retreat of the Christian fighters from the mountains of Lebanon to Byzantium land. Part of the fighters withdrew upon the order of the king. The remaining fighters held up to their position upon the orders of king rival Commander Leon. Prompting the paramilitary, the king, directed an army led by Mouric and Mourician to discipline the rebels. Around 694 a battle took place among the bordering suburb of Amioun and Nawous (at that time it included Kousba, Ain Ekrin and Rushdbin) between the Byzantium army and rebels led by Youhanna Maroun. After the battle, the eastern Christians were divided between a pro-king known as the " Romans" and rebels known as the "Marada" - the rebels against the king or "Maronites" - followers of Youhanna Maroun. Kafaraka was not identified by its name in the books but the Geographical description of the Battle’s location proved that it took place in the current location of the village.
After the Crusaders took over the Lebanese coast in 1109, Kafaraka became part of the County of Tripoli. The Crusaders realized early the strategic importance of the town, turning it from a small village to a basic feudal linking Bcharri with the main fiefdoms of the coast: Batroun, Naveen (Anfe) and Tripoli. In the year 1127, Kafaraka was given by Count of Tripoli “Pons”, to the Order of Saint John named the Knights Hospitalier or Hospitaller. A noble family of French origin emerged in the town, named “De Cafaraca”. This family had extensive authority in the County of Tripoli. Pierre De Cafaraca supervised the construction of the castle and the hospital in the town. In 1202, Boutros de Cafaraca was an official witness of the election and inauguration of the Bishop of Batroun In 1271 the Mamluk King Baybars destroyed partially the citadels of Kafaraka during the attack of the fortresses which protected Tripoli. In 1283, the castle was completely destroyed by the Mamluk Sultan Qallawun, the village was totally burned and the majority of its inhabitants were killed inside a church in Kafarsaroun (At that time Kafarsaroun was part of the Feudal of Kafaraka). The castle and the hospital were located in the area laying among the center of the village (Al Saha) the church of St. Georges, the Church of our Lady and the Church of St. Luke. The building named "Abou Al Sayed" is the only remaining construction that still exists from that era.
In the beginning of the Mamluk era, Kafaraka turned into a deserted area inhabited by a small number of peasants who survived the massacre. According to Ibn Shaddad, the Sultan Qalwoun spared some of the villagers, in order to carry out the work of agriculture. Unlike the demographic change that took place in Tripoli in the Mamluk era, the rural Orthodox areas in koura were not influenced. These areas became the source of vegetables and oil for the city. Because of “ Shourout Al OUMRIA” law imposed by the Mamluk, the Christians could not rebuild what was destroyed during the war. In addition to that, religious obligations on the daily life style were imposed. Christian men were forced to wear blue turbans and were prevented from riding horses or mules, while women were obliged to wear blue linen.
Nature was no less harsh on the Kafaraka inhabitants than the Mamluks. Locusts invaded the region in 1303, 1373, 1374, 1378, 1400, 1422, 1456, 1516 and 1519. A destructive earthquake hit the area in 1338, 1403 and 1412. Snow reached the coast in 1291 and 1301, 1316, 1345, 1359, 1397, 1407, 1508, and drought in 1312. The inhabitants suffered from plague in 1344, 1348, 1352, 1362, 1399, 1409, 1411, 1416, 1437, 1468, 1491 and 1511.
Earlier, the Ottoman era was relatively less aggressive than the Mamluks. They kept the tribute system but they suspended the implementation of the law of “ Shourout Al Oumria”. In 1523, Kafaraka was part of the feudal of prince Mansour al-Assafy. In 1526 it was attacked by the locusts. The prices rose. The olive oil reached two hundred dirhams for 40 litters. In 1550 the Ottoman Sultan issued decrees allowing Christians more freedom in matters of religion and marriage. In 1579, the Ottoman state turned Tripoli into a ministry and a “Bashawiya” independent from the rule of the Assafis and appointed Yousef Pasha Sifa Kurdi as its first minister. The ministry of Tripoli included the following regions: Jbeil, Batroun, Koura, Zawiya, Beshri, Dnnia, Akkar, Houson and Safita. From 1521 until 1591, the Lebanese regions, including Koura, were subject to civil wars, assassinations and looting. Although most of the villages had been affected by these events. We did not find any proof that Kafaraka was affected at that time. In opposite, the number of residents has increased significantly, probably due to the fact that after the Crusader period it became a peaceful village inhabited by peasants. According to Ottoman statistics published by Dr. Essam Khalifa, the number of Christian adult males in Kafaraka increased from 67 in 1519 and 95 in 1571, while the number of Muslim males declined only from 4 to 3 at that time. In 1691, Mohamed Pasha Hamada took over the regions of Koura, Bsharri, Batroun and Byblos. He nominated his son Sheikh Ismail responsible over the Koura region. The sectors occupied by Hamada were continuously agitated. They had repetitive disagreements with Ottoman governors in Tripoli. It is likely that one of the Hamada’s leaders rebuilt partially the Crusader fortress in Kafaraka. It was as his headquarters for collecting taxes and tribute. This place was named “Kabou El Sayed”.
In 1635, due to his dispute with Hamada, Prince Ali Sayfa attacked Amioun and seized its crops and the crops of neighboring villages.
In 1636 the region faced a drought condition and it was invaded by locusts. Many inhabitants died from hunger.
In 1638 a huge fire broke out in Kafaraka and spread to the lands of Kousba, Bsarma and Amioun. More than 50,000 olive trees were affected by the fire.
In 1661, the inhabitants suffered from plague. Many people died as a result of the epidenic disease.
In 1673, after a drought condition the locusts returned.
At that time, the governors did not care about the suffering of the people. In contrary, they introduced new type of taxes. The “Qadoumiyyah” tax was imposed on every newborn child. These taxes and disasters forced the people to abandon their villages.
From 1668 to 1750, according to Dr. Farouk Hoblos, the Ayoubis princes, supported by sheikhs of Al-Azar, leased the management of Koura region from the governors of Tripoli. Kafaraka was part of the so-called Emirate of Ayoubis in Koura. Based on the official Ottoman record, each village had its own “Sheikh”. The Ottoman archives did not document any name of “Sheikh” or noble family in Kafaraka. In addition to that the taxes on Kafaraka land were very low compared to other villages. The reason is related to the fact that the society of Kafaraka was a farmer’s entity, where only poor Christian peasants working in a land owned by government or princes.
Conflict occurred between Ayoubis and Al Azar led into division of the Koura region in two parts. Kafaraka was in the part managed by Al Azar .
From 1773 to 1839 Kafaraka became part of the Emirate of Shehabism. Regardless of all these administrative and political changes, the society of Kafaraka stayed almost intact
After the strife of 1841, a new political system to manage the mountain of Lebanon was implemented. It was named “Al Qaemmaqamiatein”. Kafaraka was part of the Upper Koura province, in the Christians “Qaemmaqamiyyat”.
In this period, the political, social and economic conditions slightly improved. The rich families owned lands in the Kafaraka. An Ottoman document showed that in 1849, Elias Ghosn, in partnership with Tobia, bought a plot in Kafarka. The same document proved the presence of property owned by the Prince Melhem Chehabi.
In 1856, Sultan Abdulhamid issued a decree, announcing the equality between all citizens regardless of their religions. This decree had a positive impact on citizen’s behavior. The farmers in Kafaraka started owning the lands which they cultivated for long generations.
In 1860 a new heavy strife took place. The impact was catastrophic on many villages. However, Kafaraka was not affected by this crisis. Many new families moved from the affected villages to Kafaraka.
In the beginning of the “Moutasarifiate” era, the agricultural conservative society in Kafaraka started to evolve gradually. Several factors played a role. First the farmers started to have their private land. Second their children started getting some education. Third, the new freedom regarding politic, social and religion encouraged the habitant to start expressing their opinion.
It is likely that at the beginning of the Almtsarfiyya period, the Church of Saint Georges was rebuilt according to its basic Crusader design and the Crusader castle stones were used to build the old neighborhoods houses of the town. This explains why the French archaeologist Emmanuel Guillaume Rey, who visited Kafaraka around 1859, confirmed the presence of the destroyed Crusader castle while, in 1906, Ibrahim al-Aswad confirmed that there were no historical places in the town.
In 1862, the consul of Russia declared that the number of adult males in Kafaraka was 227 while the number of students was 29.
At the end of the 19th century, Sheikh Nassif Nehme became the “Sheikh al-Solh” of Kafaraka and Sheikh Khalil Nasr Matar the director of “Qnat directory” in Moutasarifiate Mount Lebanon.
According to an old local manuscript written by Sheikh Nassif Nehme, before the 20th century, a less than 50 citizens from Kafaraka could write and read.
By the beginning of the 20th century, Kafaraka had a municipality, “Mukhtar” and “Sheikh Soloh”. The Ottoman’s title "Effendi" was given to the mayor and "Sheikh" to Sheikh al-Solh and to “Mukhtar”.
In 1906, the first municipal council was elected. According to Ibrahim al-Aswad, Khalil Effendi Boulos was elected as president and the members were Nassif Fayyad, Wahbe Mattar, Saba Soliman, Taleb Tannous, and Salim Elias. The Mukhtar was Sheikh Nicola Fayyad and Sheikh al-Solh was Sheikh Tannous Houbaiter.
In 1909, Sheik Mikael Ibrahim Abou Farah was the Sheikh al-Solh of Kafaraka.
According to Dr. Hanna Sassine, Mr Fares Yaakoub Boulos was the mayor of Kafaraka before the World War I
During World War I, Kafaraka faced a catastrophic condition due to the Ottoman siege of Mount Lebanon. Many inhabitants died from hunger and diseases. More than half of the inhabitants migrated to outside Lebanon to destinations such as Australia, Brazil and the US.
Kafaraka inhabitants were forced to sell their properties at very low prices, to cover either migration or the living expenses of their families.
Cultural development after World War I
In the beginning of the 20th century, only some individual efforts were detected. The teachers were coming from Tripoli. Mr Moussa Al Hamati and Mr. Daoud assisted by Mr. Joanna Nicolas Saad from Kafaraka. The school was located in the house of the late Wadih Matar.
After the World War I, the priests of Kafaraka, Saba Khalil Saba and Rashid Fayyad took the personal initiative to teach the children the basic knowledge of Arabic language.
Well along, an association named “Women's Renaissance association” and the Orthodox Church played a leading role in the process of increasing the level of education in the village.
After the Lebanese independence, the official schools raised the level of education in Kafaraka.
Today, in addition to public schools, Kafaraka has a high school, a private institute (Freddie Atallah Institute), and a private university, “the American University of Culture and Education”. In the beginning of the 21st century Kafaraka had one of the highest levels of educated people in Lebanon.
Political development after World War I
After the World War I and according to Dr. Hanna Sassine, the priest Khalil Saba Sleiman was the mayor of Kafaraka and Mr. Wehbe Yaakoub Mattar the “Moukhtar”
In the French Mandate Era, Kafaraka quickly recovered, but it remained absent from the Lebanese political scene. None of its citizen was nominated in the Lebanese Governing Council in 1920 nor participated in the elections of the parliament in 1922 or in the elections of Lebanese delegates in 1925.
In 1929, Mr. Najib Khalil Boulos, the eldest son of the Mayor Khalil Boulos and Mrs. Sarah Yacoub Matar, a lawyer known for his leadership and as an "Effendi", ran the parliamentary election. Though, he did not succeed. His nomination brock many old political traditions applied in Koura.
Regarding the municipality election, the competition between Boulos and Mattar families started from the announcement of the Greater Lebanon until the declaration of independence.
According to the municipality archive, Mr. Yaakoub Boulos was the Mayor of Kakaraka from 1934 until 1958.
The relationship with the French army was unstable. Many problems occurred between Kafaraka Citizens and the Algerians, Senegalese and Moroccans inductees in the French army. General de Gaulle has visited Kafaraka several times, especially the area of "Al Bader", to meet the French soldiers.
In 1936, Sheik Mikael Ibrahim Abou Farah became the “ Mukhtar” of Kafaraka.
In 1940, Sheik Taleb Tannous Houbaiter became the “ Mukhtar” of Kafaraka
In 1941 the lawyer Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was appointed as secretariat of education and Youth on April and as minister of justice and deputy prime minister in the Lebanese government on December.
In 1942 Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was appointed as minister of public work and foreign affairs
In 1946, Mr.Wehbe Yaakoub Matar became the “Mukhtar” of Kafaraka
In 1947, Mr.Sami Mekael Shihada became the “Mukhtar” of Kafaraka
In 1950, Mr.Atieh Wehbe Matar became the “Mukhtar” of Kafaraka and he remained until he died in 1986.
In 1951, Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was elected as the deputy of the sector of Zgharta-Koura- Batroun in the Lebanese parliament and appointed as minister of public work and deputy prime minister in the Lebanese government.
In 1952, Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was elected as vice president of the Lebanese parliament.
In 1952, Mr. Yaakoub Khalil Boulos was re-elected as Mayor of Kafaraka
In 1952, Mr. Najib Andraos was elected as member of Tripoli municipality.
In the era of the President Camille Nemer Chamoun, Mr. Philippe Boulos was an active member of the opposition. Accordingly, Kafaraka faced instability. Noting that, the sons of Mr. Massaad Fares Boulos supported president Chamoun.
In 1958, during the revolution against the regime of president Chamoun, Mr. Najib Massaad Boulos, known as Abou El Hassan, was one of the essential leaders of Syrian Social Nationalist Party in Koura.
In 1958, Mr. Massaad Fares Boulos was elected as Mayor of Kafaraka.
In 1959 Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was appointed as “Mouhafez” of Beirut city.
In 1960 Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was elected as deputy of Koura.
In April 1961, Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was appointed as minister of justice, economy and tourism.
In October 1961, Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was appointed as minister of information and deputy prime minister.
During the era of President Fouad Chehab, the Lebanese intelligence service persecuted the opponents of the Shihabi. The condition became worse after the participation of some citizens from Kafaraka in the military coup d’état against the Shihabi regime. Many were arrested.
In 1962, Mr. Massaad Fares Boulos died. The municipality council elected the vice president Mr, Shihab Al Inati as Mayor of Kafaraka
In 1964, Dr. Michel Fares Boulos was elected as Mayor of Kafaraka
In 1964, Mr. Philippe Najib Boulos was re-elected as deputy of Koura
In 1972, Dr. Michel Fares Boulos died. The municipality council elected the vice president Mr. Gaberial Najib Andraos as Mayor of Kafaraka and he remained until 1998.
At the beginning of the civil war, there were unfortunate incidents, military confrontations, assassinations and kidnappings, which resulted in the deaths of many civilians from Kafaraka and the neighborhood.
Between 1976 and 1978, Kfaraka was under the control of the Lebanese Front.
From 1978 until the withdrawal of the Syrian army, Kafaraka was part of the Syrian-controlled areas in Lebanon.
In 1978, Dr. Jamil Massaad Nehme was appointed as the director of the faculty of justice and politic sciences at Lebanese University – branch II.
In 1983, Dr. Jamil Massaad Nehme was appointed as the General Director of personal state.
In 1984, Dr. Jamil Massaad Nehme was appointed as the director of General National Security. He played a pivotal role in the administration of the era of the president Amine Gemayel. In 1991, Mr.Najib Mekael Fayyad became the “Mukhtar” of Kafaraka
In 1996, Mr.Toufic Salime Horkoss became the “Mukhtar” of Kafaraka In the 1990s and the beginning of the 21st century, the Lawyer Najib Philippe Boulos, Mr. Fares Masaad Boulos, Mr. Joseph Sabaa and the lawyer George Naim Atallah ran the parliamentary elections but unfortunately none succeeded. .
In 1998, Mr. Fares Masaad Boulos was elected as Mayor of Kafaraka and Mr. Georges Fouad Fayyad as vice president. In addition to that Mr. Elias Mikael Saba and Mr. Joseph Jamil Atallah were elected as “Mukhtar”
In 1999, Mr. Elias Mikael Saba died and Mr. Deeb Ramez Sassine was nominated as Mukhtar
In 2001, Dr. Lili Maliha Fayyad was appointed as the President of the Educational Center for Research and Development in Lebanon.
In 2004, Mr. Fares Masaad Boulos was re-elected as Mayor of Kafaraka and Mr. Elias Yaakoub Jamhour as vice president. In addition to that Mr. Deeb Ramez Sassine and Mr. Joseph Atallah were re-elected as “Mukhtar”
In 2009, Miss Martine Albert Andraos was elected as Miss Lebanon.
In 2010, Mr. Fares Masaad Boulos was re-elected as Mayor of Kafaraka and Mr. Jean Ibrahim Sassine as vice president. In addition to that Mr. Deeb Ramez Sassine and Mr. Joseph Atallah were re-elected as “Mukhtar”
In 2011, Mr Fares Boulos died. The municipality council elected Mr. Riad Berberri as Mayor of Kafaraka.
In 2014, Mr. Riad Berbarri resigned. The municipality council elected Mrs. Hind Andraos as Mayor of Kafaraka. During same year the municipality council was dismissed due to the resignation of more than half of its members.
In 2016, the lawyer Elias Gergi Sassine was elected as Mayor of Kafaraka and Mr. Emil Masaad Joureige as vice president. In addition to that Mr. Deeb Ramez Sassine, Mr. Hanna Mekhael Jamhour and Tony Gerges Al Khoury were elected as “Mukhtar”
- "Municipal and ikhtiyariah elections in Northern Lebanon" (PDF). The Monthly. March 2010. p. 23. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 31 October 2016.