This is how the people of modern-day Morocco commonly respond when asked about their nationality. In political speeches and media articles, the term “Moroccan nation” is frequently used. When Moroccans refer to themselves as a nation, they are largely alluding to their shared historical destinies and belonging to the same state. The process of enhancing the commonality of language, economy, and culture is far from finished. The concept of “Morocco Land” has gained popularity primarily among residents of industrial centers, where capitalism settled relatively recently and thus managed to remelt in its crucible elements of different tribes and diverse in their cultural traditions, customs, mental structure, and language into a relatively uniform mass, subject to the laws of bourgeois production relations, that is the basis on which the nation emerges.
When asked “who are you?” in a community, you can be answered, “We are the Iliad Hammu,” that is, “children,” of a specific Hammu who created the hamlet. Some old guy will tell you that Hammu belongs to the “children” of Abdenbi, who live in numerous nearby villages, and that the “children” of Abdenbi are part of a bigger group known as a “Kabila,” or tribe. Instead of the word “ulyad,” Arabic “beni” and Berber “ait” have the same meaning and, when combined with a specific name, designate a specific tribe or group of related tribes.
A geographical location or locale is frequently named after a tribe. For example, in northern Morocco, there are the Beni-Snassen Mountains, one of the provincial centers is called Beni-Mellal, and there are minor towns and villages dispersed throughout the country with names like Ait Ammar, Ait-Urir, Ait-Souala, and so on. It should be noted that big tribal groups do not necessarily bear the name of a “ancestor,” but maybe named, for example, ait-umalu, or “sons of the shadow. The inter-tribal confederations and the geographical names that result from them do not include the prefixes “ulyad”, “beni”, or “ait”.
Of fact, all of these tribal names are widespread nowadays as a tribute to the past and do not always reflect the true truth. Over centuries of spontaneous migrations, sultan decreed relocations, and the transformation of many rural populations into urban dwellers, tribal ties have grown interwoven. The rural areas of the Moroccan plains are mainly distinguished by the loss of the ancient communal system. The growth of commercial exchange and the assertion of private ownership of Morocco Land and cattle resulted in village stratification. At one extreme, there existed a wealthy upper class of tribal nobles who appropriated communal property.
On the other end of the spectrum were the Morocco Land less and Morocco Land-poor poor, as well as the semi-poor shepherds. People’s relationships became class-based. The colonial administration’s inconsistent policies during the protectorate period aided this process to some extent. The colonists endeavored to construct tribal settlement jurisdictional boundaries and even preserve what remained of communal property. It was not about safeguarding the interests of Moroccan land peasants.
The removal of non-recognition of Moroccan private property was required to allow French colonists to capture the Morocco Land. When the colonists left, the “rights” of the Moroccan clan nobility and affluent landowners could be recognized. The colonial administration not only took it upon itself to defend this stratum against the rebellious communists but openly encouraged the sheiks, ways, and pashas to seize the communal lands, not stopping at sending punitive expeditions into the countryside to “pacify” the freedom-loving Moroccans who would not submit to the “civilizers.
The forcible “ordering” of tribal life, the introduction of “European,” that is, capitalist, methods of land management, and the growth of industrial cities, which absorbed a large mass of the rural population in their bottomless stone wells, were all a great shock to tribal structures and accelerated the tribal system’s decay. But not all the way. All the more so because, alongside the capitalist farms of the colonists, Morocco Land peasants, whose way of life was untouched by the colonizers’ innovations, continued to cultivate the Morocco Land in ancestral ways.
And the latter made no attempt to eradicate tribal remains. On the contrary, they were delighted to see backward development methods obstruct the consolidation of the Moroccan country and the development of a national consciousness: it is much simpler to deal with a people who have not quite overcome the stage of tribal disintegration. Even while the Moroccan government works to regulate national life and develop a sense of national identity among all Moroccans, tribal traditions continue to exist.
Apart from the collection of families that form its nucleus and give it its name, the current “tribe” contains numerous people whose ancestors had nothing to do with the tribe’s genealogical tree. Despite the tribe’s uniqueness and social stratification, it remains a somewhat cohesive collection of people who follow common customs. Despite having hundreds of inhabitants, the Moroccan village (duar) lives now as one giant family. Everyone knows everything about everyone else: the “brothers” and “sisters” have no secrets. And everyone knows everyone’s name. People with the same name identify themselves by mentioning their father’s name: M’hammed ben-Ahmed, M’hammed ben-Abdallah, and so on. If the father is unknown, the mother: M’hammad-uld-Aisha When a person leaves his own village, he becomes aware of the necessity for a surname.
Mhammed, the son of Ahmed or Aisha of the duar of Ulead Hassan, would become M’hammed el-Hassouni in the adjoining duar, because the people there do not know his father or mother’s names. The tribal “surname” may be succeeded by the tribal surname in the future mobility of this person, and when he leaves his native areas and travels to Casablanca or Rabat, he will either preserve his tribal “surname” or make his final surname the name of the confederation of which his tribe is a part. M’hamed, as previously noted, may be given an identity card with a Sergini surname to remind him of his affiliation with the Sragna tribal association. Such surnames are prevalent among city people, as are “patronymics” like Benham or Benaissa, and even city names like Fassi for Fez natives…
The tribal structure has not deteriorated as much in the semi-desert zone and high Morocco Land, where rural life remains inextricably linked to nomadic cattle-breeding, which is unthinkable outside the context of communal customs. Despite the fact that the institution of private property (on livestock) is also established here, and people have become accustomed to such social disparity, the way of life contributes to the preservation of many historical customs. The primary philosophical principle of the nomad is that in the wide globe of the desert, one cannot survive alone. Generosity is an innate trait of a nomad, instilled in the spirit of respect for an unsaid law of nomadic society – solidarity, since without it, there is no social life, and without social life in the desert, there can be no individual life. A man who is lonely is a man who has died. He cannot guide his flock, provide water, or secure its safety on his own. This desert man ethic is a question of life and death for the entire family, clan, tribe…
Morocco’s population is dominated by Berbers, Arabized Berbers, and Arabs. According to French sources, despite the widespread use of Arabic in the country, the majority of Moroccans are Berbers. The Berbers share the same point of view. The fact that many of them speak Arabic does not imply that they have lost their native speech. While putting forward a demand to teach the Berber language, a famous Moroccan political figure, the leader of the Berber party “People’s Movement,” poet and artist Mahjoubi Akhardan, argues that this demand does not aim to oppose the Berber to the Arab, because in Moroccan reality, they have long lived together and are inseparable brothers.
Moroccan Berbers have lost their own alphabet, the existence of which is supported by archaeologists’ discoveries (though written monuments attributed to distant ancestors of the current Berbers have yet to be deciphered) and the ancient writing system “Tifinagh,” which is still used by Tuareg-related Berbers in some areas of Algeria and Niger.
According to Ahardan, the oldest Berber language in North Africa lives on through its owners’ daily contact, oral literature – Berber tales, legends, proverbs and sayings, poems and songs – and written records that use the Arabic script. It is an accurate and dynamic language, and its preservation is essential for preserving the Berber people’s rich cultural history. By the way, Berber-speaking Moroccans constitute 50-60% of the population!
Indeed, Berberian can be found a few kilometers from the Atlantic coast, where the Arabs have primarily settled, or from big cities surrounded by Arab communities. Women wear bright outfits and go about with open faces. Children with red hair and blue eyes are not uncommon. And the accommodation is frequently a large black tent that may accommodate fifty, one hundred, or more people. Berber carpets, with their distinct design, are easily distinguished from the works of Arab masters from Rabat and Fez. Berber folk dances have distinct features.
Berbers on their own
Berbers refer to themselves as such only while speaking French or English. The Rif Berbers, for example, choose the moniker “Imazighen” (“free people”). The Sanhaja tribes, the Berbers, live in the country’s center, the mountains of the Middle Atlas, the eastern slopes of the High Atlas, and the valleys of the Puedes, which are lost in the sands of the Sahara. They, too, consider themselves Amazigh and, like the Imazighs of the Rif, refer to their language as “Tamazight,” despite major variances.
Schlecht are the people who live in the High Atlas, the Anti-Atlas, and the Sus River Valley. They are the descendants of the Mahmud, the first Berbers to arrive in Morocco. Tashelhit is the Schlecht language. Each of these major groups has a distinct local accent, but all Rif residents understand each other in the same manner as the Schlecht and Brabbers can converse, but there is a significant linguistic barrier between the Schlecht and the Rif’s Imazighs. A similar barrier occurs between Arabs and Berbers who do not speak Arabic. And the Arabic language in Morocco is dialectal, with dialects varying from region to region.
Morocco Land Arabic language.
Classical or Literary Arabic, the language of the Koran, jurisprudence, science, good literature, commercial correspondence, and the press, is only known to a few literate people and is not yet a method of communication for the vast majority of the population, who cannot read or write. So far, the so-called vernacular language, which contains many Berber words and idioms as well as French ones, is still used for communication. It is reasonable to claim that in some locations, notably rural areas, Arabization of Berbers and tribal mixing has progressed to the point where it is often difficult to identify an Arabized Berber from a Berber who has gained Arab blood or even a “purebred” Arab.
Furthermore, mixed marriages between Arabs and Berbers are extremely popular in Morocco. However, it is entirely possible that some Berber groups, particularly the High Morocco Land, will retain their identity and form nationalities in parallel with the further evolution of the forming Arabized Moroccan nation, which absorbed the descendants of the Spanish Muslims – Moriscos and Andalusians, the slaves from Western Sudan who had served in the Moroccan sultans’ “blackguards”; today, the dark-skinned Moroccans of Tropical Africa do not form a distinct ethnic group.
Moroccan Jews can trace their ancestors back to the same time period as most Berbers. The first Carthaginian Jewish communities established here in the third century BC, and their colonies were replenished during the next three centuries. The initial immigrants merged thoroughly with the Berber Gentiles, submitting them to Judaization, and some present “Jewish” families have Berber origins. In the far south of Morocco, one can still find densely populated Jewish villages – mullahs – which are a living example of the symbiosis of Jewish communities with the surrounding Berber environment: they have the same customs, the same language, the same farming techniques, and even some common “saints.
The second wave of Jewish immigration is connected to the persecution of Jews in medieval Europe. Thousands of people fled to the Arab Maghreb in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries from Italy, Holland, France, England, and Portugal. The most significant was the flood of Jews from Spain into Morocco: the Reconquista struck them as it did their Muslim brethren, and their only way was from Andalusia, which was in the control of the Catholic kings, to Tangier, Fey, and eventually to New Salé (Rabat). These new Jewish settlers spoke Spanish at first. Arabic became the mother tongue of their descendants. Unlike in Europe, where those in authority fostered anti-Semitism, Jews in Morocco were treated as “guests” under the patronage of the sultans.
Much of Moroccan territory had been integrated by the end of the nineteenth century. The Jewish poor were now no different from the Arab or Berber poor in their way of life, while the Jewish bourgeoisie found a lot of common ground with their Muslim peers. Antisemitism is still uncommon among the majority of Moroccans nowadays. The Moroccan authorities aren’t either. Even during the tough period of Vichy’s control in Morocco, Mohammed V firmly refused to implement the so-called Nuremberg anti-Jewish legislation imposed on him by Putin’s puppet, Resident General Notes.
As early as the preparations for the conquest of Morocco, the colonizers attracted the bourgeois upper classes of the Jewish community to their side through a system of “patronage,” who, like certain Arab bourgeois families, preferred national solidarity to class solidarity – with foreign firms. The Jewish bourgeoisie became a direct accomplice of the colonial rulers with the formation of the French protectorate.
And the Rothschild-funded World Alliance of Israelites’ schools and cultural institutions successfully educated Jewish children into thinking of Morocco as their motherland. People who had been taught for years that they were not Moroccan and then declared that their true Morocco home land was Palestine were easy victims for Zionist propaganda. Morocco had 250,000 Jews in 194.5; by 1970, that number had decreased to 40,000. The poor were the majority of those who immigrated to Israel. As a result, the Jewish community in Morocco was famously deproletarianized.
Morocco Land Frenchmen
Many Frenchmen in Morocco have fathers, grandfathers, or even great-grandfathers who came here during the Protectorate or even earlier. They are frequently referred to as the Morocco Land French. They were well-established in Moroccan business areas and rural estates, as well as educational institutions and government offices, but the vast majority did not become citizens of independent Morocco, preferring to maintain relations with France.
With the end of the colonial regime on Moroccan soil, where the French had felt like masters for nearly a half-century, they found themselves in the position of strangers. Their fate is determined by the country’s ongoing Moroccanization of the economy and social life. Many French people live in fear of the day when they will have to pack their belongings and leave the comfort of their own homes. On the eve of Morocco’s independence, the number of French there reached 400-450 thousand, and by 1970, there were already 90 thousand. Although the condition of the French colony has stabilized considerably in recent years, the downward trend appears to be irreversible. This holds true for the Spanish colony (45,000 people) as well as numerous other foreign settlers.
There are now only 170,000 foreigners in Morocco. They account up slightly more than 1% of the country’s total population, which exceeds 15 and a half million people.
Morocco Land traditionalist
With the exception of the Jewish minority, which practices Orthodox Judaism, and the few Moroccan Christians and atheists, the indigenous population is practiced by all, or nearly all, Muslims, who are obligated to follow the Koran, Islam’s holy book, and the Sunna as expressed in the Hadith, which means to emulate the Prophet and his companions in their behavior.
The orthodox Moroccan seeks answers for all times in the Koran and the Sunna, while Sharia, which still serves as the legal basis for some judicial rulings, is applied in Morocco according to the methods of the eighth-century Muslim jurist Malek ibn Anas. Moroccans are so classified as Malekite Sunnis.
However, it appears that we cannot confine ourselves to this broad concept. For starters, Moroccan “orthodoxy” does not preclude the existence of numerous religious fraternities founded by “holy” sheriffs and marabouts, each of whom saw it as his duty to “deepen” orthodox Islam with various mystical doctrines, rites, and rules, and thus contributed to the spread of sectarianism, which is still alive today. Furthermore, pre-Islamic beliefs have not entirely vanished…
A Poseidon temple formerly stood on Cape Beddusa, around 200 kilometers south of Casablanca, where the lighthouse presently stands. The God of the Sea was also known as the horse tamer. Even today, at the full moon, some Berber tribes, who have long practiced Islam, drag barren mares into the ocean waves in search of the enigmatic stallions that live in the abyss, in Poseidon’s kingdoms. The prayers of the folks waiting on the sands of the coast turn to him. The moon glints on the crests of waves and the sparkling torsos of mares in the snow-white sea foam at night. A display like this is unthinkable in an Islamic country. However.
Morocco Land Muslims
Many Morocco Land Muslims, particularly Berbers, nevertheless pay homage to the relics of pantheism, believe in good and evil spirits, witches and sorcerers, fear the “evil eye,” and rely on different magical treatments for sickness and other issues… They are not unfamiliar with the well-known fatalism. Not only that, but there is a significant difference in comprehension of Islam and attitude toward its commandments between an educated individual and a basic illiterate Fellah.
The Moslem religion remains an important part of daily life in many Morocco Land, particularly among peasants who sincerely believe that “there is no god but Allah” and honor the Prophet Mohammed and all kinds of “saints,” who respond to the call of the muezzin and, if nothing prevents, spread their prayer mats at the proper hour to praise Allah, precede every undertaking with the cry “bismillah!”, calling on Allah’s help, and if they promise or make any promises (“If Allah so wills!”). All significant events in a Moroccan believer’s life, whether circumcision, marriage, or death, are commemorated with suitable rites. He believes it his responsibility to pray in the mosque on Fridays. On major festivals, the mosques are packed with people gathering, preaching, holding night vigils, and holding theological conferences, sometimes inviting erudite theologians from other Muslim countries, as was the case in late 1968 and early 1969, when Morocco organized a celebration of the Koran’s 1,400th anniversary. The king, as “lord of the faithful,” and the most important imam preside over the most important rites.
The state religion is Islam. It is also spelled out in the constitution. The state continues to build mosques in order to retain the religious spirit of the people. It organizes Koranic schools for youngsters aged 7 to 12. It supports one of the oldest Muslim institutions, the University of Qaraoui, which has around a thousand students in theological faculties in Fez, Marrakesh, Tetouan, and Rabat, and it builds new theological colleges. The government helps men and women who want to make the pilgrimage to Mecca. Entire steamships are chartered for this purpose, and special agreements are made with foreign airlines.
The Ministry of Habous and Islamic Matters is the Moroccan government’s particular body in charge of religious affairs. The habus are the Muslim community’s property and, in a sense, the material foundation of its activity. The Ministry is in charge of mosques, Koranic schools, valuable collections of books and old manuscripts, over 20,000 worshipers (imams, muezzins, etc.), charitable organizations, hospitals and orphanages, a large area of agricultural Morocco Land, hiring laborers and craftsmen to build new and restore old mosques, and publishing its own magazine.
The legislation, including the penal code, protects religious interests by creating numerous punishments for religious wrongdoing, particularly refusal to respect the Ramadan norms in public places.
Morocco Land Ramadan
Ramadan is a major topic in Morocco. A Muslim may not eat, drink, or smoke from sunrise to sunset for one month. This is acceptable in the winter. Some Muslims just sleep with the windows closed during the day to conserve energy for the nightly vigil, when anything is permissible. Of course, this is only possible for a select few, as businesses and institutions do not close during Ramadan, and fieldwork cannot be canceled. One solace is that the days are short and the heat is not overbearing.
However, the Muslim year, which is made up of lunar months, is shorter than typical, thus Ramadan can fall during the summer. Fasting then becomes a real ordeal for the working man: the day drags on, the mouth is dry, and one feels dizzy, and what kind of work is it if there is always a bowl of steaming, spicy meat soup, the harira, in front of the eyes, which can be touched not before the cannon strikes to announce that the sun has finally retreated below the horizon and the fast is broken until morning? People are so excited for this moment that as the cannon fires, the streets immediately empty. After being hungry during the day, one begins to eat numerous times during the night, neglecting sleep. And then it starts over again in the morning…
It’s easy to appreciate Moroccans’ enthusiasm for the “little feast” (Haid el-Seger) that celebrates the end of Ramadan. It is frequently a family gathering.
The fast’s “purification” appears to clear the way for the mass pilgrimage to Mecca. This time contains the “great feast” (Aid el-Kebir), which comes 70 days after the “little feast.
People are merely
The people simply refer to it as the Feast of the Ram because it begins when the king, in the presence of a crowd of believers, cuts the throat of a sacrificial lamb in the manner of the biblical patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim), who, along with the forefather Adam, Moses (Musa), Jesus Christ (Aissa), and other Old and New Testament characters, is considered by Islam to be the predecessor of Muhammad, the chief and last of the prophets.
Following a solemn prayer, individuals who have pre-purchased live lambs slaughter them in their homes and begin to feast. True, not everyone has the means, and the impoverished must settle for tripe alms: distributing alms, especially on holidays, is a religious duty for every Muslim.
Moroccans also celebrate many other Muslim holidays, but the mousses at the “holy” graves, to which many thousands of pilgrims converge every year, each at a different time of year, because the dates of the mousses are fixed according to the common, rather than the Muslim, calendar, are especially popular. The museum begins with religious ceremonies and evolves into a popular festival, like a large fair.
The legendary “fantasia,” which draws thousands of spectators, is one of the fair’s primary attractions.
Fantasia is not a horse race in the traditional sense, however it does involve riders. The performance takes place in a broad space, sometimes larger than a soccer field. A group of riders is lined up around one edge of the platform, armed with archaic flintlock pistols or quite modern Berber carbines. Their mission is to begin galloping their horses, race to the tribune with the guests of honor at the opposite end of the platform, stop abruptly at full gallop a few meters away, and fire all of their guns into the air.
The more cohesive the riders and volley, the more approval they will gain from their fellow tribesmen, who have entrusted them with upholding the prestige of their clan or hamlet in this strange contest. The loser who has fallen from his horse sits down again to wash away his embarrassment; the experienced rider comes again and again to demonstrate his talent; clouds of gunpowder smoke and clouds of dust rise over the rallying area…
Local celebrations can include a regional fair and the homecoming of pilgrims from Mecca, the birth of a child by a wealthy Muslim, and the simultaneous conduct of multiple weddings.
Morocco Land Vacation
Morocco’s national holiday is March 3. On this day in 1961, King Hassan II ascended to the throne. Labor Day is officially observed on May 1. Mid-May – Armed Forces Day, complete with the traditional military parade. The king’s birthday, July 9, is considered a youth holiday. August 20 – the anniversary of the “Revolution of the King and the People”: in 1953, the late Mohammed V withdrew into exile, sparking a frenzy of national resistance to colonizers that was ultimately successful. Mohammed V’s return to Morocco in 1955 is commemorated annually on November 16-18 as part of the “three beautiful days” commemorating the country’s independence.
Moroccans like their vacations and enjoy having visitors. An old custom calls for dates and milk to be delivered to a particular guest of honor. This Saharan nomad staple evolved into Moroccan country bread with salt.
The feast begins with the tradition of washing hands in wealthy houses. Invitees are placed on carpets, sofas, and poufs around low tables, and an attendant comes around to each one with a brass kettle, a special cup for draining water, and a towel. Then everyone starts eating by rolling up their right sleeve.
Of course, you must eat with your hands… But you don’t have to squirm involuntarily. Even in Europe, taking the game with your hands is frequent. It is more practical. After all, the method you eat is linked to the flavor of the dish. Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines are significantly more enjoyable to consume with chopsticks. Moroccan country foods do not require forks or chopsticks. Most of them are simpler, more convenient, “tastier,” and hence better eaten with the hands, as Moroccans and foreign visitors who respect their traditions do. This strategy is widely used in the royal family and during huge royal banquets.
First, they commonly offer “meshui,” which is a spit-roasted lamb or a lamb baked altogether in a clay oven. Tear off a piece of reddish crispy crust or flexible pink meat with your right hand and place it in your mouth after dipping it in ground cumin. It would be lovely to have red dry wine with the lamb, but it is only served on rare occasions, generally for foreigners. At home, one must make due with mineral water or orange juice, as is customary.
Mashui is substituted with “Bastilla,” a sweet puff pastry flat pie with a filling of chicken (or pigeon, or fish) seasoned with almonds, raisins, and spices beneath the top layer. The salty and spicy here are inexplicably blended with the sweet, and it doesn’t take a special habit to appreciate this dish’s unusual beauty.
When you think you’ve had your fill, a fresh dish called “tagine” appears on the table. It’s a stew of lamb, chicken, or pigeons with olives, almonds, prunes, lemon, and spices, of course. The chicken in lemon-yellow sauce with saffron, cinnamon, and olives appears to be delectable. The name “tagine” comes from the clay jar with a cone-shaped lid used to cook its different forms. Each chef has his or her own distinct flavor and scent combination.
The feast doesn’t end with tajine, and you shouldn’t leave the table until you have tasted “couscous”. This meal is made with coarsely milled wheat that has been cooked and placed onto a big ceramic tray. Inside the mound, filled with a spicy broth, is boiled beef or chicken with various veggies. Moroccans consume couscous, delicately rolling balls of it in their hands and graciously offering their assistance to a novice visitor. They will, however, give him or her a spoon if he or she requests one.
The couscous is followed by fruit, which may include oranges, bananas, grapes, or peaches according on the season. Everything comes to a close with the traditional Moroccan tea. Moroccans drink green tea with mint on every occasion and at any time. A glass of this stimulating drink is especially useful after a big meal: it makes it easier to breathe.
Moroccan women, in general, do not participate in traditional dissemination, even when foreign guests bring their wives. This is a nod to an ancient, far-from-extinct custom.
In Morocco, the law recognizes gender equality in conformity with the modern interpretation of the letter and spirit of Islamic teachings. Women have the right to vote and, in theory, have equal access to all public offices and positions. Many women work as secretaries and typists in government and private sector offices. Women labor heavily in a variety of businesses, particularly the textile industry, but also in the service sector. Female doctors, professors, and engineers exist. True, these are few and few between. A laboratory assistant, a nurse, a department store saleswoman, a babysitter, or a cleaner frequently provides for her entire family and inspires respect for her husband, no matter how conservative his views are.
A woman has the right to divorce, and when she marries, she has the option of stipulating in the marriage contract that her spouse would not marry again. Polygamy has not been outlawed in Morocco, but it is on the decline. A man over the age of 18 may marry up to four girls or women over the age of 15, but he must assure absolute equality amongst all of his spouses; otherwise, polygamy is illegal. The financial problems caused by the need to raise a large family do not only result in the rejection of polygamous marriage. Many young men remain unmarried because they are unable to afford a dowry (which is a man’s responsibility) and a wedding.
Morocco Land cities
The European-dressed Moroccan female is no longer uncommon on Moroccan city streets. And young girls, without fear of being judged by old men, broil on the beaches in fashionable bikinis that barely cover their bodies, compete in sports and vote for Miss Morocco, ride bicycles and scooters, dance twists and shakes, attend lyceums and universities, and even travel overseas…
All of these marks of freedom, however, are frequently outward or influence only a small layer of metropolitan bourgeois women.
In fact, however, it looks something like this: a young divorced woman who returns to her previous family, even if she is educated and financially independent, is unavoidably subject to the jealous monitoring of her brothers, who watch her every move. A young girl working in an institution must return to her mother’s house promptly at the same hour from her employment, otherwise “the neighbors will no longer respect her.
Many underprivileged girls are destined for arduous labor at the carpet-weaving loom or as household maids from the age of six or eight. Only 57 percent of urban girls and 8 percent of rural girls attend school. It is fairly rare to hear such advice from fathers, even educated ones: “Study philosophy if you wish, but never forget that you are first and foremost Moroccan, Muslim, and a woman.” That means that in current Moroccan society, the primary job of women is to care for their husbands, bear and raise children, and shoulder the arduous work of the home, from which only a few women from wealthy families are exempt.
Everything starts with the wedding, which must last seven days according to the rules. The bride is typically adorned in extravagant gowns, which are frequently borrowed from a wealthy woman who also serves as a costumier. Ritual patterns are painted on the bride’s face. Every day, the bride’s house’s doors are open to the women for a quarter-hour. Only on the seventh day will the husband see his wife. It is uncommon nowadays for him to be unfamiliar with her prior to marriage, yet it does occur in the village. The wedding is loudly applauded. Some townsfolk manage to obtain a microphone with a speaker for such an occasion, and the entire block is compelled to stay awake, involuntarily participating in the wedding festivities. But that is insufficient. The revelers pile into automobiles decked out with multicolored ribbons and speed about town, blasting their horns nonstop.
Wedding rites and traditions vary by region of the country. The September bridal market at Imilchil, the headquarters of the vast Berber Ait Hadidou tribe in the High Atlas, is particularly intriguing. Every year, one of the most remarkable folk ceremonies is celebrated in the area of the two lakes, the “bride and groom” of Isli and Tilsit, positioned 2,500 meters above sea level. The head of the Ait Hadidu tribe determines the timing of the ceremony, taking into account the progress of the harvesting season and the phases of the moon.
He notifies the surrounding tribes of his decision. Thousands more people arrive soon after, carrying cattle and various items on the backs of camels. It’s cold here at such a high elevation, and people are dressed up in thick garments, setting tents and building bonfires. It’s a fantastic vacation for the local mountaineers. In three days, one must finish all commercial deals, sell the things brought back, stock up on supplies, and, most importantly, marry the young. In three days, boys and girls from mountain villages separated by dozens, if not hundreds, of kilometers must meet, agree, and form families. It is tough to choose a bride because the girls are wrapped from head to toe on this occasion.
Only eyes, hands, and a voice are available to the potential spouse. It is up to the man to make the decision. After deciding, he takes his bride’s hand in his, either squat or directly on the ground, and they chat. If they both agree, the marriage is registered in the tent of the model, the public clerk, in the presence of witnesses, who are usually the bride and groom’s parents. The girl displays her face after obtaining the marriage contract. To the sound of drumming, the young pair forms a line and begins swaying from side to side and doing half squats. The women’s voices create a somewhat repetitive melody. It is a wedding dance, a required component of a Berber wedding.
What happens after the wedding? A woman has numerous births after marriage, and there is also severe physical labor in the rural.
In the country, 50 children are born for every thousand people. The bulk of the population’s low level of living, unclean housing conditions, chronic malnutrition, and a lack of adequate medical care are all factors that continue to produce high death rates among Moroccans. There is one doctor for every 12,000 people and one hospital bed for every 650. And these are “average” values. In the countryside, the sick are still “treated” by witch doctors and “healers” rather than doctors. In addition, not everyone in the city can afford to see a private doctor, and public hospitals are unable to serve everyone who requires their assistance. However, we cannot conclude that the years of independence have not resulted in changes in the population’s medical treatment. New state-run health care facilities have opened, notably in remote areas.
Moroccans have begun to graduate from the Rabat University Medical Faculty, albeit they still account for slightly more than 10% of all doctors in the country, with the remainder being largely French, Spanish, and Italian. Attempts are being undertaken – with varying degrees of success – to control mass outbreaks. Plague, smallpox, cholera, and typhus are all gone, yet outbreaks of meningitis continue in some locations. The government’s efforts in the field of health care, while still restricted in many ways, have already resulted in a significant fall in mortality. If 35 Moroccans perished out of every thousand in 1940, the rate today is 17, and 11 individuals per thousand in metropolitan areas.
Moroccans numbered just over 11 million in 1960, according to the first national census; by 1970, the figure had climbed to 16 million. The natural population increase is presently predicted to be 3.5 percent, making it one of the highest in the world. That means that the country gains roughly 500 thousand new residents each year, who must be educated, at least at the primary level, and, most importantly, provided a job when they grow up.
Because the Moroccan government is unable to address these issues, it has implemented a birth control strategy. However, the public is not enthused about this approach, and the democratic public views “family planning” as an attempt to avoid confronting underlying socioeconomic problems.
Children and young people account for approximately 65 percent of the population. One-third to one-half of children as young as seven years old complete primary school. The state does not have sufficient funds for schools and instructors. There are slightly more than one million students in overcrowded elementary schools, accounting for less than half of all children aged seven to twelve.
Morocco’s first five-year development plan (1960-1964) established universal basic education as a goal for 1969. The three-year plan (1965-1967) was likewise founded on the need to develop the elementary school network. Both of these schemes did not come to fruition. Such a target was not established in the Second Five Year Plan (1968-1972).
Secondary schools, unlike primary schools, had opened their doors slightly in recent years to those who wished to continue their studies, but competitive examinations ruthlessly eliminated 90 percent of candidates, and not without regard to their social status: good grades may not matter if you are the daughter of a day laborer or the son of a farmhand. A modern type of secondary school has 270,000 students, and only 7% of those of the required age complete the final exams.
Only one percent of individuals who were fortunate enough to learn to read and write now have access to higher education. Rabat University, founded in 1957, and other higher education institutions in the country today have around 12,000 students. Given the country’s serious scarcity of national personnel, the number is certainly insufficient. At the same time, many university graduates are having difficulty finding work, particularly philologists and attorneys, who make up half of university students, despite the fact that demand for them is apparently not as high as for engineers, agronomists, doctors, teachers, and so on.
The country need workers while also dealing with the issue of a “surplus” labor force. It’s not just a few hundred college graduates at stake. We’re talking hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people. Unemployed people make up a sizable proportion of the self-employed population in Moroccan cities. Progressive researchers cite 765,000, which is not far off from the official amount. Morocco “exports” 10,000 employees per year to France, Belgium, Holland, and West Germany, where about 150,000 Moroccans presently reside and work.
Underemployment is the greatest affliction in the countryside, which is home to 70% of the country’s population. According to scientists, Moroccan agriculture employs no more than one-quarter of the available worker force. The villager does have an outlet: he grazes animals, harvests wild fruits, and makes baskets. However, there are essentially no fully pastoral areas in Morocco; the vast majority of animals are in agricultural areas, where the cattle are usually cared for by children and the elderly.
One and a half million hectares of the 5.5 million hectares of cultivated land are in the so-called modern agricultural sector. French colonists own 200 thousand hectares of this Morocco Land. Officially, the state owns 250 thousand hectares confiscated from colonies. It attempts to create agricultural cooperatives on some of this property (as an experiment). A million hectares are in the hands of a small handful of large Moroccan farmers who are steadily buying up land from French nationalists and destitute Moroccans.
The “modern sector” farms employ agricultural workers. The character of the production here is capitalist. The “traditional sector” receives the majority of agricultural land, where pre-capitalist production relations prevail, Morocco Land is cultivated in grandfatherly ways, and marketable output does not exceed 15% of the yield. This sector covers 14 million hectares, but only 4 million are farmed and planted; the remaining 2 million hectares are fallows and permanent pasture. This comprises tribes’, villages’, former military settlers’, religious communities’, and some state territory. A total of 3.5 million hectares are privately owned.
The Morocco Land, whose holdings occasionally amount to 25 thousand hectares, and the richest pastoralists, owners of herds of several thousand sheep, dominate the “traditional sector”; nonetheless, they are scarce. The number of affluent landowners and notables is quite large. There are a few thousand of them, each with an average of 50-75 hectares, five packs of mules, 40 cattle, 150 sheep, and a net annual income of 8700 dirhams (by comparison it should be noted that the national income per capita in Morocco is estimated at 900 dirhams). All of these were largely former caidas, sheiks, and pashas who diligently served the colonizers and, with their assistance, grabbed almost 40% of the cultivated land.
A “middleman’s” annual income is 1500-3000 dirhams (eight to fifteen hectares, one or two teams of mules or oxen, a few cows, and a dozen or two or three sheep). However, more than half of farms have plots of 1 to 4 hectares. Even a pitiful quality of living, estimated at 1,200 dirhams per year for a family of four and equivalent to the income of an agricultural laborer on a modern farm, is practically unachievable for the majority of them…
A real tajine, that is, one with meat, is prepared once a week by a peasant woman, generally on market day. The family normally eats vegetable stew with handmade bread or flatbread for the next two or three days. The farmer only eats bread and highly sweet mint tea for the last three or four days of the week. Sugar consumes 60% of a peasant family’s budget. And it’s no surprise: it’s a staple food, along with bread. There is, indeed, milk. However, the peasant is deprived of it during the plowing season: this type of fieldwork occurs in fall, beginning with the first rains, and is preceded by the end of summer – the time of “the greatest drying up” of the rivers and the ground. There will be no grass in the meadows and no milk in the peasant’s hut.
Home of the peasant. Perhaps this word has little to do with the squalid home in which a peasant family huddles. A typical Morocco Land village consists of a collection of small homes made of stone, clay, and reeds. There are rarely any streets. The structures are stacked haphazardly. There are no public structures. With the exception of a mosque.
In a stone or mud cabin, there are two chambers. The main room is where they sleep and eat. The kitchen is the other. The “home” is approached through an inner courtyard that is isolated from the outside world by a wall built of the same material as the house or by a hedge of thorny bushes or cacti. If you have a horse, donkey, or mule, the courtyard can accommodate them. There is also a sheep and goat pen. When the weather permits, one can live outside such a house, even if the owner is a wealthy peasant with multiple rooms in his hut. The impoverished man is occasionally housed in a nuala, which may be made in a couple of days from of reeds and covered with straw, dried seaweed, or twigs. It’s cone-shaped and looks like a straw pile. There aren’t many settlements in the country that don’t have a handful of these huts. There are entire settlements made up entirely of them. In the high Morocco Land, there are cave communities. Many villages, not only the nomads of the Saharan zones and high plateaus, but even the sedentary Berber tribes, live in tents.
A poor peasant’s only possessions are a chest, a table, a mat, and perhaps a carpet. Few peasants have a stove in their home. The remainder prepare their meals on a kanun, an earthen hearth.
Over half a million peasant families do not own Morocco Land. They are the main source of labor for the “powerful” landlords, along with the lesser landowners who are going bankrupt. Many of them are descendants of previous slaves, and their current circumstances are no better than those of slaves. They are known as sharecroppers. In general, they work for one-fifth of the crop. As a result, the name “hommes” signifies “one-fifth”. In fact, that “fifth” becomes a sixth, a seventh, or perhaps a ninth. Men’s livelihoods are frequently limited to food and clothing. He is constantly in debt and is unable to pay his master. His wife works as a servant at the owner’s home, and his son grazes the livestock of the owner. It is incredibly tough to break free from a bond. Unlike a free peasant with a small plot of Morocco Land, the Hammes cannot even work on the side, such as going to the olive harvest or working as a reaper.
The smallholder sows bread by hand and ploughs the Morocco Land with a wooden plow. Unfertilized and inadequately plowed land has a low yield. And it is harvested using sickles, just like in the old days. Tractors and combine harvesters are only found on modern capitalist farms owned by capitalist agrarians, French colonists, and a few notables.
The latifundium, like the urban bourgeois who owns land, prefers to rent and re-let it to tenants rather than invest in it. The tenant, like the peasant with little land, frequently does not have time to invest because they are struggling to make ends meet. No one wants to invest inland on collective land that is vulnerable to annual redistribution. The Morocco Land is depleted. Droughts and floods, which are becoming a national disaster, hasten the demise of the poorest and middle peasantry. Morocco Land ownership is becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of the ruling class. The labor shortage is becoming increasingly serious. All types of building activity organized for “under-employed” people absorb only 3.2 percent of the village’s underutilized labor force. Profound agrarian reform is required, but for the time being, the peasant has just one option: to try his luck in the city.
People are fleeing to the city for reasons other than landlessness and poverty. The young are abandoning the tutelage of their elders: at the very least, they can marry where they want. People are fleeing the domination of kays and marabouts: in the city, everyone is a child, and no one bothers if you are not extremely religious…
The vast exodus of peasants to the city has resulted in annual urban population increase of 5.2 percent, with fugitives from the village contributing 1.5 percent. Morocco’s population of city dwellers has more than doubled since independence. At least seven cities with populations more than 100,000 may be identified. Casablanca, Africa’s largest city, has 1,250 thousand inhabitants, while Rabat and its twin Salé have 410 thousand, Marrakech has 285 thousand, Fey has 270 thousand, Meknes has 225 thousand, Tangier has 150 thousand, Oujda has 140 thousand, Kenitra has 120 thousand, Safi has 120 thousand, and Tetuan has 115 thousand. It is expected that by 1980, Casablanca will have merged with nearby Mohammedia, and Rabat will have grown to a million people. Twenty to thirty percent of the total population will be concentrated on a 150-kilometer-long coastal strip stretching from Casablanca to Kenitra. This is where desperate peasants flock, first joining the army of the unemployed.
The unemployed woman suffers the most. Her only option is to take to the streets. Lost as a domestic worker, abandoned as a wife, and unable to find work in the city, the peasant woman is easy prey for her pimp, who takes 90% of her earnings and can disfigure or kill her if she tries to flee….
In several Berber settlements in the Atlas, there are dating houses where females from relatively “good” and well-to-do families “work”. They are not considered fallen beings and are not obligated to satisfy the visitors’ whims. Furthermore, these ladies are well-liked in their communities. They are the best dancers at the festivals. They weave the complicated patterns of the Berber dance to the approval of the connoisseurs, obeying solely the will of the never-ending drums. And nothing in their clothes, behavior, or gestures suggests that these dancers do it for some historic tradition rather than out of necessity. Lalla Xaba, who is buried at Rabat’s Muslim cemetery, was apparently one of these women. “Lalla” implies noble or holy in Arabic. On the tenth day of the Muslim New Year, childless women and unmarried girls travel to this “saint’s” grave. The former requests a child, whereas the latter requests a husband. Some argue that it is a relic of the matriarchy. Everything is possible…
Only prostitution in modern Morocco Land cities is unrelated to matriarchy. Unfortunate women forced to sell themselves are loathed, shunned, and prefer not to talk about them in so-called respectable society, despite the fact that many men in that society are well aware of the streets with “specialist” hotels. There are 25,000 prostitutes in Casablanca. Syphilis affects 80% of the population. And these are only the prostitutes that have come to the authorities’ attention. How many of them are working undercover? And the majority of them are rural refugees.
Official figures show that medinas house 76 percent of the country’s urban population, bidonvilles house 18.5 percent, and contemporary buildings house only 5.5 percent.
The medina is a Middle Ages relic. Bidonville is a notorious byproduct of the capitalist era. People who become townspeople in antiquity live in the medina. They are typically recent peasants in Bidonville. And not always unemployed. Although there is some crowding here and there, the medina is a little more spacious. Only one in every five medina residents lacks electricity, and one in every two lacks running water, whereas in Bidonville, it is an unattainable luxury for the great majority, who must make do with kerosene lamps and public columns. The same kanun used in the village is used to heat and cook hot food in both the medina and Bidonville.
However, the medina appears to be a city block from the outside. The Loudonville, hidden behind the “wall of shame,” is a jumble of rickety, dingy homes made of linen, cardboard, and flattened tin cans. There are several mosques here. The same “construction materials” were used. The minaret of such a mosque is a purely symbolic building that the muezzin is unable to climb: he cannot bear it… It’s a world of dirt, grime, and rubbish, with whirling clouds of insects and rodents who won’t let anyone sleep… A world of filthy children, poor women, and desperate men… In Morocco’s huge, and not just large, cities, there is a world of grief and suffering, a belt of poverty. Bidonville vanishes from the face of the earth in one location and reappears in another. And as long as there are unemployed people and the future of working people is uncertain, the Bidonvilles will proliferate.
Even though each barracks is numbered in theory, it’s easy to get lost in the repetitive labyrinth of Loudonville. Typically, the barracks are entered immediately from the “street.” A low door opens into a single room that looks more like a doghouse. The walls are covered in newsprint and ornamented with images from old magazines on the inside. The “furnishings” include a drawer that serves as a table, as well as mats, blankets, and pillows. A relative wealthy family would have a clothes chest, a mattress on a stand, a transistor receiver, and an acetylene lamp.
Many Bidonville residents are single men who must save pennies from their modest salaries to send to their wives and children who have been left behind in the town. Families also live here.
Pathetic shacks in Morocco Land cities live next to modern buildings, spacious avenues, colorful boulevards, where the reign of cleanliness and order, where everything is appropriate and beautiful, but all this is another side of urban life, available to the five percent of the population, which appropriates half of the national income: the family of the nobility, large landowners, bourgeoisie, senior officers, the top officials and persons “free professions”. There are luxurious residences and villas with all amenities, expensive hotels, gourmet restaurants, elegant stores, yacht clubs, ski stations at mountain resorts, thoroughbred trotters, and high-speed limos for them and wealthy foreigners. They have it all, and it sometimes appears like they are the only ones smiling in Morocco’s gorgeous sun.