Community, Clans and Nomads
I am going to write about some things and it is going to be based on my faulty and quirky memory and not so much on research. So my point is, if you have a problem with that, surf to another blog. This one is mine. I make no claims. Like it or leave it. This is based on my experience and not meant as research.
I am learning every day more and more about the culture in Morocco. My teachers are Mustapha and the other people we meet. My classroom is the streets we walk. My tools are my eyes and my ears. My work product is the impression I will go home with. It is fascinating to me and for the first time in many years, there are a number of things I come upon or learn every day that deeply resonate with me. Deeply.
In Morocco there are two ethnicities, the Arabs in the minority and the Berbers in the majority. They share a religion. Bedouins are Arabs and Nomads are Berbers. Nomads, while moving around based on the season, support themselves from the land. As opposed to gypsies who move around and live by other means.
Moroccans live as a true community. They look out for one another. I have mentioned that they are affectionate and openhearted. They all look out for one another. Such an honourable people, they each have a job and it is very important that they do their jobs well because there is a great deal of honour in that. Honour is very important.
Moroccans all come from clans. Mustapha is from the Atta clan which includes a huge group of people. When I return home and finish the Koran (or whichever comes first) I plan to read a book called Dad Atta by David Hart about the Berbers. People are mostly organized by family groups. I am speaking now of the nomads. Parents typically have 6 -12 babies because you need a lot of hands working together in order to survive. Also, not all children will live so they hedge their bets and have a lot of them. Its the practical thing to do.
The nomads have a leader who is responsible for the politics and he is the one they look to for information in that regard. They also have a leader who is responsible for water. He watches the signs of life and leads them to water and therefore survival. Sometimes they live in caves. If a family moves on to a new location, and they want to go back to their caves, they will simply send word along (by word of mouth) and if another family has moved into the caves, (dug into the sand), they will learn of the return and just move along. No worries. Or mashi moushkil as they say in dirija.
Word of mouth is important in Morocco. Most people don’t have offices so they conduct business in the cafes. When we arrived in Casablanca we noticed that all of the cafes were loaded with men and we did not want to go into them in case that was insulting. It turns out that these men are conducting business. If you want to buy a house you ask around for the real estate guy and then you meet him in the cafe and talk about your deal. There are no women because they are busy doing other things. Like taking the dough to the bakers for baking or washing the clothes in the huts down by the river as they do in Chechaouen.
It also seems that being part of a community means that everyone looks out for each other. While we were in Moulay Idriss we came upon a green door. Behind that door lives a very old man and everyone knows to kick in the door if they don’t see him in the morning. Look out for your neighbours. We also saw a young boy of 7 or 8 come running and skipping along the street, and as he turned the corner he ran into an older man. The man, without hesistation, reached out a gave the kid a smack on the side of the head. They stopped, made eye contact, communicated disapproval and understanding and carried along the way.
Can you imagine if anything remotely like that happened in North America? It was actually charming and old school and that kid walked away better for it.
I’m going to write a more extensive post about Berbers and Mustapha is going to help me. My fee for this service has been negotiated down to 3 kisses, no camels. Something to look forward to.