Sunday, April 06, 2008

Historic detachment (Fes centenary)

Fes, the oldest medieval town still in existence, is celebrating its 12th centenary. The highlight of the festivities - otherwise most noticed by added decorations to the anyway stunningly beautiful centre of the new town, billboards and posters, and series of lectures - was an open air stage show of folkloristic art comprised mainly of dance and music. With the exception of some terraced seating facing the stage, which was reserved for dignitaries, the event at Bab Boujloud, one of the gateways to the old Madinah of Fes, was free admission for all. In retrospect this may not have been such a good idea.

The visual effects were superb with live recording of the stage alternating with scenic photography on a large display screen, complimented by a separate but corresponding imagery cast across the whole width of the old city walls. The choreography, too, was well crafted, and as a cultural show the presentation was of high quality, even if the attempted marriage of old and new, West and East appeared forced and artificial at times, for example in the mixing of Spanish Flamenco with a form of tap dance from the desert in an apparent imitation of Flatley's River Dance. Yet, the best description available for this celebration of Moroccan culture and history is probably that of detachment.

Whilst it didn't help that the inadequate supply of loudspeakers made it difficult to listen attentively, the crowd present was anyway not interested in doing so. The show was staged for them - and of course the cameras, resulting in glowing accolades in the national media no doubt -, it did not involve them, however, and there was no real interaction between those on the stage and those watching them on the big screen. A ticketed event with a modest entrance fee would have been more appropriate, accompanied by smaller in situ events engaging local communities. As it happened, the people of Fes who attended expected a party atmosphere and soon got tired of the constant flow of folklore. From the very start they couldn't be bothered listening to the introductory remarks of the organisers or even the Royal visitor, crown prince Molay Rachid. They preferred talking, laughing, shouting, whistling, and on the whole would have been better placed at a football match. Football is big in today's Morocco, culture is not.

There were only two numbers which really caught on with the crowd: the performance of a local rap band and the absolutely magnificent fireworks which beat those staged at New Year in most European cities. The fireworks provided an ecstatic finale without which the whole show would have been flat, the rap music was a marker of how modernity has pushed heritage aside in today's Morocco, drowning centuries of cultural treasure in monotonous beats. The intention had been to celebrate the history of Fes and Morocco and portray Morocco as at ease with its past and the present, bridging the conflicts between competing cultures and values. Whilst there is some truth in this latter observation, the dominant impression, viewed from amongst the mass of spectators, not the media or the specially invited guests, is of a country having become detached from both its history and its culture, of a people starting to loose their soul, and of a Moroccan populace no longer at ease with, nor appreciative of, its own foundations. 1200 years on, the living Fes is becoming a museum for tourists and surrendering its claim to being the spiritual and cultural capital of the Maghreb.

Detached from present-day reality, the festivities were a celebration of the past without offering a path to the future. Vast sums have been spent in this and other events where, so the official tag line, "Moroccans celebrate their history". More accurately, Moroccans are having their history celebrated for them and thus find that it no longer speaks to them. Reducing a people's past to song and dance is ultimately shallow. What about their writers, their scholars, their poets, their craftsmen, their fighters, their heroes? What about the stake the ordinary citizen has in the society inherited from earlier generations? With incoming investments and tourism resulting in the rapid rise of property and other prices their own country is fast becoming out of reach for the locals. Unemployment is high, as is the confusion about how to synthesise Islamic and Western values. A true celebration of one's heritage must build on it to propose perspectives for the future. Dazzled by the bright lights of the fireworks the attendees lingered a while and then, realising that that was it, went on their way home, impressed, but otherwise unaffected. Maybe the quite considerable sums of money would have been better spent in rejuvenating the old town and supporting its restoration and what survives of its ancient craft workshops and artisans.

2 Comments:

At 7 April 2008 at 15:38, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Morocco doesn’t care for their people, their rich culture, tradition or history.

Why is Morocco allowing itself to be bastardized=colonialised? There is nothing good to be gained except for some Moroccans making profit from the bastardisation. Take Italy which has commercial interest in Morocco from “inexpensive labour” for the Italian industry, low cost holiday resorts offered to Italians, other programs offered by the Italian government/confindustria* with intentions of colonisation & profit for Italia.

While the children of Lebanon were being bombed, burned and craters 10 tomes the tiny angles were been created, …. The Moroccans were entertaining an orchestra from Italy! for PEACE?

- the Donne marocchine in Italia = Moroccan women in Italy.
(a high percentage of Muslim population in Italy is from the Mahgreb region). This is changing as the – according to the “Caritas Diocesana di Roma Migrantes Roma e Lazio Edizione 2008” according to which there are 7982 Moroccans in Roma and Provinces (5º-Bengaladeshi, 19º - Moroccans).
They just sprouted like a “mushroom” from nowhere. No one knows “How they came to be. A simple survey showed:
large almost 95% have a strong dislike of the way the group Donne Marocchine in Italia use their religion for their own political and personal gains and the rest 5 % when they heard the Donne Marocchine - Ms Souad Sbai & Ms Dounia Ettaib in Italia group’s name walked away in disgust.
Ms Souad Sbai is said to be a moderate Muslims and she is with the fascist party AN
The Donne Marocchine in Italia started a news paper called Magharebia
Below is the result from the search engine:

The News & Views of the Maghreb
??????magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/homepage/default
About This Site
??????magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/document/awi/footer/about/about
18/05/2005
The Magharebia web site is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in Europe, Africa and the Mediterrane n Basin. USEUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

See Defeating Islamophobia By MarocPost.
According to MarocPost OIC(=Oh I see)
That is why the appointment of a US observer to the OIC has to be welcomed rather than regarded with suspicion. Dialogue is the answer — the only answer.
http://www.marocpost.net/about/
MarocPost is operated from New York City & Chicago, IL by a team of dedicated Journalists, reporters and technicians.
MarocPost also reports Arabic and International news with to-the-point precise and fair analysis in subjects relating to:
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1203758721419&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout
Moroccan Minister Wants Fajr Adhan Ban - IslamOnline.net – News

RABAT — A Moroccan minister has sparked uproar by calling for a ban of the Adhan for the Fajr (Dawn) Prayers for not disturbing tourists in the North African kingdom.
The minister also drew ire for accepting a Danish invitation to attend a women conference despite the Danish publication of cartoons lampooning Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

The bbc loves informing us that the Moroccan king is a direct descendent of our Prophet (PBUH) and this king is a staunch supporter of fascist US. The truth regarding his genecology could not be established with accuracy and historical facts but Moroccan King’s obedience and subservience to the USA and the zionists is very much well known

two points of wisdom I recently read:

Sometimes fruits of a tree fall away from the tree and rots

Imperialism has no problem recruiting minorities to serve them, at the highest levels.

From: Seven TV channels and three newspapers
Beppe Grillo's Blog Seven TV channels and three newspapers.htm
* - Paolo Mieli is the expression of the good salon of il Corriere della Sera. An assorted group of companies that ranges from Pirelli to Mediobanca, from Intesa San Paolo to the Tod. The bosses of the Corriere are called Confindustria and ABI. Geronzi, Passera, Tronchetti, Della Valle. La Repubblica is part of Engineer Carlo De Benedetti’s (industrialist, financier) Espresso group. La Stampa is part of the Fiat group. It’s a daily newspaper, inspired by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.
Summary: parties, Berlusconi, Confindustria and ABI possess information. If they want to, they can make us believe anything. And they make us believe anything.

 
At 11 April 2008 at 21:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the dominant impression, viewed from amongst the mass of spectators, not the media or the specially invited guests, is of a country having become detached from both its history and its culture, of a people starting to loose their soul, and of a Moroccan populace no longer at ease with, nor appreciative of, its own foundations.

It is very common to see this, the U.S.A., the Middle East, Europe, so forth. I think it is by design.
I think the ENEMY OF HUMANITY has wrought this. Nothing by chance.

 

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