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What I Learned Living in Morocco for Eight Months

Morocco is a multicultural country that has rich history and an extraordinary diverse and inclusive community. I had a desire to travel to Morocco from a very young age when I found myself traveling throughout Spain, studying the occupation of the Moors and its connection with North Afraka. I knew that Spain was exceptionally close to Morocco so I thought to just go there, however, I would not find myself in the country until a couple years later. This is where the theme of life coming full circle comes into place.

I decided to further my studies in Ifrane, Morocco, at Al Akhawayn University (AUI), an University founded in 1993 from Royal decree by Hassan II of Morocco with an academic organization based on the American University system. It is stated that the university acquired some of its funding from the late King Fahd Ibn Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia as a means to amend for the oil spill that polluted the waters of Morocco, however, the wind would assist in its removal hence the funds were used to create the university. I was impressed by AUI's involvement in renewable energy as some of their buildings are powered by solar, wind, and the burning of olive pits. OIive pits burned as a former by-product is an ancient way to generate heat, electricity, bio gas and bio fuel. At AUI, it is used to warm their olympic sized pool which is remarkable and pioneering. The political decision to create the university was probably centered around increasing innovation, investment, diversity, and immigration by foreign parties. I had the intention of studying in Morocco to learn more about their political situation and to acquire more knowledge on the Moor community and its history in North Afraka. Conversely, I began to better comprehend the complexities of colonization, the Holocaust, individual power interests, and the act of miscegenation that would all become key factors in my investigation.

During my stay, I visited many cities including- Al Hociema, Agadir, Casablanca, Chefchaouen, Essaouira, Fez, Ifrane, Kenitra, Marrakesh, Meknes, Melilla (Spain Occupation), Oujda, Rabat, Tangier, Taghazout, etc. The only city I did not get a chance to visit that I will in the future was Dakhla, where the desert meets the sea. Each city I visited had its own unique history and distinct ethnic population. For instance, in Chefchaouen the population heavily spoke Spanish more than French but many of the merchants were people that had settled in Morocco generations ago but originated from the Middle East. Some of the populations were intermixed with people from the Sahara and people that had always lived in the city. While others were Moroccans that were mixed with some European origin usually Spanish. Ifrane is a city in the Middle Atlas region of Northern Morocco, meaning it gets incredibly cold- in fact, it is snowing right now. The word Ifran means caves because the indigenous population from Amazigh tribes: Bni Mguild, Bni M'tir, and Ait Seghrouchen strategically formed their homes from caves. The Amazigh people heavily populated all of North Afraka and had their own religious system prior to Islam that was centered around wom(b)man being the creator. To learn more about this there is a MOOR podcast episode that discusses this belief with an Amazigh craftsman from Chefchaouen.

In each Moroccan city I visited, it was like unveiling a new layer of Moroccan history, the longer I stayed and more people I engaged with aided in my ability to consolidate the vast information. In Oujda, I recognized and celebrated Eid Al Mawlid on October 9th, 2022, an islamic holiday that marks the day with a feast for the birth of Prophet Muhammad. I attended a Sufism event where I discovered it was a path to achieve eternal happiness, although, it is considered to be Islamic mysticism as it differs from modern Islamic prayers and celebration. Accordingly, the place I visited to celebrate this Islamic holiday had expanded over the years, hence, there were thousands of people who attended from all over the world. Upon arrival, after a twelve hour drive from Ifrane the group was instructed to wear their traditional clothing and join the session discussing how to radically improve the world around us. I was in awe. Even so, I had not realized that the program would last from sunrise until sunrise the next day which caused me gradual frustration. Yet, I found a great appreciation for the experience as I prayed for hours with people with great passion for love and unity. Despite this glorious event, it appeared that Oujda, a city that borders Algeria, was significantly underdeveloped compared to other cities I had visited.

"Sufism (Tasawwuf) is the esoteric or inward (batin) aspect of Islam, is to be distinguished from exoteric or external (zahir) Islam just as direct contemplation of spiritual or divine realities is distinguishable from the fulfilling of the laws which translate them in the individual order in connection with the conditions of a particular phase of humanity. Whereas the ordinary way of believers is directed towards obtain-ing as state of blessedness after death, a state which may be attained through indirect and, as it were, symbolical participation in divine truths by carrying out prescribed works, Sufism contains its end or aim within itself in the sense that it can give access to direct knowledge of the eternal".

                       -Titus Burkbardt, expert on Islamic Sufism

Melilla is one of two autonomous Spanish cities along with Ceuta with its population heavily Spanish Christian with Berber Muslims and Moroccan Muslims. Upon arrival to this city, I was disquieted by the reality of entering a city of Morocco that was actually owned by Spain which reminded me of the modern day colonialism and imperialism that pervades our global society. I traveled with people that were enthused to be in Spain while in Morocco while I was disapproving of the overwhelming Spanish influence on the infrastructure, governance, and occupation. In some ways, I was even resentful for the Moroccan people as I started to learn more about the city due to the fact that King Hassan II fought for the return of Melilla but was threatened by its occupants thus without the proper military and military technology the King heeded its territory. King Hassan II organized a second Green March for Melilla and Ceuta similar to his act to recover the Moroccan Sahara. Yet, the act by King Hassan II to decolonize the northern territories fell short-

On January 27th, 1975, Morocco addressed a memorandum to the special decolonization committee of the UN, asking for the retreat of Spain from Ceuta, Melilla, Canary Islands and the Rock of Badis.

It was rejected by the United Nations.

Moroccan Map

Tangier is the epicenter between Spain and Morocco. Hence, the center is heavily influenced by Spain. In Tangier, I met a caucasian woman from the Northern part of the United States of America (U.S.A) that was a teacher although she admitted she was "winging it" and was disappointed with the curriculum as it was heavily westernized without the consideration of the children and the Moroccan political context. It sounded indistinguishable to the education system in America which it was modeled after. It was disheartening to discern the political agenda to dumb down public and private education centers universally. Nevertheless, Tangier was known to the Romans as Tingis and was the capital of their province, Mauritania Tingitana. Later, it would be passed successively to the Goths and Saracens that would be identified as the Moors. In 1471 it was taken by Alphonso, the King of Portugal after a struggle regarding the King Edwards brother Ferdinand being left with the Moors for the security that Ceuta would be ceded. The shift of territorial control of Morocco's harbor would lead to its frequent change in occupation and ultimate historic destruction.

I was fascinated to witness the religious tolerance and inclusion that lasted for generations where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived side by side in one community with no apparent problems in Chefchaouen, Tangier, and throughout Morocco in general. Historic references date Jews prescence in Morocco as early as 670 C.E. In conjunction with the mesmerizing multilingual phenomena in the country. At one point, Spanish was the European language that was widely spoken but in contemporary times it is French. This prompted me to recollect the frequent shifts of power in the battle of colonizing Afrakan territories and its impact on the local populations- language acquisition. The geographical position of Spain partly accounts for the language being spoken at length along with the Moors whom spoke many languages as seafarers and traders.

Ibn Khaldoon in the year 688 stated they were allied against the Arabs under a queen named Dhimmeeah el Kahànah or the Tributary Soothsayer, who belonged to the Jewish tribe of Jerooa, of the Aures mountains.

It is theorized that once Jews were expelled from Italy in 1342, from Holland in 1350, from France and England about 1400, found refuge in Morocco, after both Moors and Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492, and from Portugal two years later. Contrary to modern belief, Moors lived throughout the entire world with many different languages and cultures. Moors in Morocco and Europe usually had an abundant knowledge of the sea. Often times, you may observe in European art that there is one dark man who may be described as a slave or disregarded altogether, however, they were the captains upon the sea to the interior of Europe or Afraka.

Morocco has a seemingly established agricultural system that permits them to avoid the suffrage of food shortages or malnutrition. "The institution-building process leading to the establishment of the Hassan II Institute of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine (IAV), Morocco's largest and only graduate-level school of agriculture and veterinary medicine, began with the issuance of a· directive in the Throne Speech of His Majesty Hassan II on March 3, 1963. At that time, His Majesty envisioned the creation of a National Institute of Agriculture that would be composed of scientific disciplines relevant to Mediterranean agriculture, would train both Moroccans and foreign students, and would deliver professional degrees fully equivalent in rigor to those granted by European universities (i.e., the Ingenieur Agronome degree)"

Fun fact: Leo Africanus was a Moor born in Granada, who spent a great part of his life in Afraka. He had remarkable accounts of his travels in Morocco, to which he appended the date A.D. 1526 is applicable to the present day.

This is a short summary of some of the things I found most captivating during my long stay in Morocco. I thoroughly appreciated all the many people I met along my journey that welcomed me, taught me, and guided me as I aimed to discover moor. I met extraordinary people and acquired an in-depth comprehension that would not be feasible from a book. Rarely, did I run into any issues, yet, it is imperative to note that ignorance is everywhere and it is up to us individually and as a community to decode and dispel all avenues of ignorance by seeking knowledge and connecting with one another locally, nationally, and worldwide. I did not even get to mention the beauty of the medinas, mosques, and kasbahs. I would simply state that it is absolutely necessary to add it to your list of travel destinations. MARHABA!

"Through love all that is bitter will be sweet
Through love all that is copper will be gold
Through love all dregs will turn to purest wine
Through love all pains will turn to medicine
Through love all the dead will become alive
Through love the king will turn into a slave"
Jalaluddin Rumi, Persian poet
  1. Professor Graetz, Geschichte de Juden, VIII. (ed. 3, 1890), p. 360, seq., gives a full account of the Jews who found an asylum on the Berber Coast in 1391, as also in 1492

1 comentario

Olevia Bethune
Olevia Bethune
29 ene 2023

I want to visit Morocco and soak up their culture learning. Wow you wrote beautifully and look forward to the book you publish of all the places God sends you on your journey. What a blessing when we hear only God and love out your

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