Discover Moroccan culture

Discover Moroccan culture

Discover Moroccan culture

Discover Moroccan culture:A trip to Morocco is an opportunity to soak up the art of living and the gentleness of a country that is thousands of years old. This country is at the cutting edge of evolution, yet has no desire to let go of its history. That, among other things, is its advantage. Its traditions are alive and well.

Its nomadic, Arab, and European elements set the nation apart.

 Take a stroll through the narrow streets of the towns and villages, and experience the local people at close quarters. Criss-cross the country and interact with its people. Moroccans have a great sense of hospitality and will surely invite you to drink tea with them.

Discover the daily life of Moroccan culture and see how its inhabitants evolve. Their daily way of life brings together their practices, their cuisine, their architecture, their rich history and their religious diversity. These are allegories that will enchant you during your stay.

Moroccan life: combining tradition and modernity

Moroccans generally earn their living from farming and animal husbandry. They are honest with each other and maintain a sacred, brotherly relationship. They are hard workers, handed down from generation to generation, and very good at negotiating. Hospitality is a must with them, as it is part of their tradition. However, they can be demanding when it comes to their wealth or solidarity. Morocco has always taken advantage of its foreign relations to look to the future without breaking with its age-old traditions. The evolution of the modern world is propelling Moroccans towards new perspectives where they can combine Moroccan tradition with modernity.

Moroccan architecture: a strong asset for the tourism sector

Discover Moroccan culture;Morocco‘s first characteristic is its architectural art. Refined and ornamental, Moroccan architecture reflects the eventful history of the imperial cities. Take a look at the fortifications of Taroudant, Marrakech, Fez and Meknes during your stay. Moroccan architecture is the result of successive conflicts and generational rivalries.

Moroccan architectural art has retained its traditional profile, as craftsmen strive to revive traditions dating back to the country’s Berber era. For the tourism sector, it’s a real asset to have such a heritage, since tourists generally look for this historical side beyond the beach and the summer sun.

Culinary art: an essential characteristic

Discover Moroccan culture;Moroccan culinary art is an integral part of Moroccan culture. The country is internationally renowned for its typically Western dishes. It’s a cuisine that reflects a historical past and a whole art of living for entertaining guests.

Through its recipes, Morocco demonstrates a great diversity of tastes in its dishes, creating a pleasing whole. This thousand-year-old country has forged a unique identity for itself through its typical products: couscous, dishes drizzled with honey and melted butter, tea sweetened with kaleb or sugar cone, shortbread called ghoriba, dates, pastilla, milk, gazelle horns, flaky pancakes or m’semmen, and so on.

The dish that makes Morocco special is tagine, because it never tastes the same every time. It’s a stew based on chicken or lamb. To this are added vegetables, lemon confit with eggplant and prune kernel. If you like spices, this is a dish you should try, as it’s expertly dosed with them.

Moroccans can also offer you a dish they particularly appreciate: harita, a chickpea soup made with pulses. They consider this soup to be a complete meal, as it includes meat, condiments and spices. They also like to eat bissara or bean soup. If you like vegetables, you’re in for a treat! The soup is made with beet, carrots, tomatoes, peppers and even cucumbers.

If there is still room, the desserts are a small bonus.. They’re usually almond-based and sweetened with honey, not sugar. Honey is healthier and has antiseptic properties.Morocco’s religious practices and moderate Islam

Discover Moroccan culture;The country’s official religion is Islam. Morocco’s religious leader is the King. They are 99% Muslim, notably Sunni. However, other religions such as Judaism and Christianity are also practiced in the country. For centuries, the state has guaranteed the free practice of other religions.

Moroccans engage in daily cultural and commercial exchanges with Europe and the West in general. This has influenced them towards a moderate practice of Islam.

Those who remain marginal are those who preach the fundamentals in the country. The current generation remains believers, but less fervent, as they see religion as a heritage. During the day, you’ll see that Moroccan daily life is punctuated by the muezzin, a call to prayer 5 times a day from the top of a minaret or mosque tower.

During Ramadan, Muslims fast and stop smoking and drinking from sunrise to sunset. They must then modify their habits to adapt to Ramadan. Businesses and public services adjust their working hours. However, you can still have lunch in some wonderful restaurants if you find yourself in town at midday, even if they modify their schedules.

Music and dance: unmissable traditions

Discover Moroccan culture;Dance and song play an important role in Moroccan culture. The masters or Chiouks, preservers of Moroccan tradition, lead the ceremonies. These are usually baptisms, weddings or other ceremonies. The masters sing religious texts, ancestral poems or songs based on daily life, accompanied by a musical instrument, the bendir.

When it comes to traditional music, you’ll hear Andaloussi, Chaâbi and Rif. However, music from elsewhere, such as Jazz, Blues, Soul and Rock’n’Roll, is also listened to by everyone.

A wide variety of instruments are used, such as the Qraqeb or Crotales, the El oud or plucked stringed instrument, the Rbab, generally a simple stick, the Gmbri electric guitar, etc. Many instruments are made from shells, skins or specific woods. This is just a taste of Moroccan culture, and nothing beats discovering this fabulous heritage treasure first-hand!

Contemporary Moroccan culture put to the test of change

It is just as difficult to trace the history and evolution of modern Moroccan culture as it is to take into account the intertwining of its elements, the tangled stages of its evolution, the interactions and ruptures between its components, and hence the absence of parallelism and balance in the constitution and evolution of its components. A comprehensive approach also requires sufficient attention to be paid to the repressed and repressed elements of this culture, as well as to those linked to political, ideological, religious and historical taboos.

2 From the outset, it can be said that the 90s represented, in one way or another, a major turning point and a period of great qualitative change in Moroccan politics and culture, as much as in the economy and public freedoms. This decade saw – among other significant events, which would shape a new horizon for cultural, social and political practice – a transition from the official and political press to media pluralism, as well as the introduction of the idea of political alternation, the launch of the liberalization of the audiovisual field, and the very first stammerings of new technologies that would profoundly disrupt the field of communicative, interactive and cultural practices in general.

3Despite the interferences that any cultural analysis presupposes, in this approach we shall confine ourselves to certain forms of expression that, in our view, constitute the thread that weaves contemporary Moroccan culture together, namely the visual arts, cinema, literature and theater, as well as the structures linked to them – publishing and publishing structures, the art market and support, distribution and advertising bodies – all of which constitute, in one way or another, places of mediation for this culture and spaces for its promotion.

Discover Moroccan culture

4However, these mutations also presuppose that we take the trouble to follow their development, at least in what they have in common, such as the structural links between the plastic arts, cinema and literature. Indeed, during the 80s, Moroccan culture in general reached a stage that can be described as one of visibility on all levels: a general and global visibility, which would cease to be the prerogative of certain cases and certain names, as had been the case in the past, as a result of certain factors – mainly relating to the colonial heritage in the field of French-language writing, for example, and the nationalist tendency in literature and art – to accompany the maturity of the mutations that have marked the cultural field in Morocco, moving it from the state of consumption and the embryonic stage to the horizons of creation and interactivity. From the stage of a peripheral culture, evolving in the shadow of two other cultures – French and Arab-Egyptian – Moroccan culture has, in fact, moved on to the stage of autonomy and dynamism, that of building, at a steady pace, its own personality and its own mode of influence. The Prix Goncourt, won by Tahar Benjelloun in 1987, for example, established the place of Moroccan creativity in French literature and confirmed the French-speaking dimension of Moroccan culture. The same prize was awarded a few years later (2010) to the poet Abdellatif Laâbi. Moroccan poets and novelists such as Bensalem Himmich and Mohammed Achaari are also beginning to win prizes in the Arab Mashreq.

Discover Moroccan culture;Prizes may be no more than an expression of recognition of the other’s culture and its symbols, but they are nonetheless one aspect of the dynamic that drives this culture, taking it beyond its own sphere to impose its stamp and presence on the linguistic and non-linguistic environments with which it interacts.

6Although literature and the visual arts were able to make their mark as early as the 60s and 70s, giving rise to leading names and productions, cinema, translation and many other arts were not long in joining this dynamic evolution, helping to make Moroccan culture a culture in its own right, endowed with its own laws of internal evolution, despite the weakness of its infrastructures in areas such as publishing, museum structures and others.

Cinema: a qualitative transformation

Although Moroccan cinema was born during the colonial era, a period during which it accumulated numerous films of an orientalist nature with a pinch of colonialism, or with a humanitarian and romantic bent, the birth of Moroccan cinema proper was self-taught, with Mohammed Osfour’s very first “artisanal” films in the early 50s, followed by a number of musical and romantic films, as well as rudimentary realist films, before Hamid Bennani’s Wachma (1972) marked the real boom in Moroccan film. This nascent cinema developed at a slow pace, hampered by serious problems and shortcomings in terms of technical resources, scripts and financing. Nevertheless, films such as Ahmed Bouanani’s Assarab and Moumen Smihi’s Chergui, among others, were the beginnings of an advanced cinema, and the harbingers of an ardent desire for creativity. In 1984, the Centre cinématographique marocain (CCM), founded in colonial times (1944), set up a support fund and, at the same time, launched a national film festival, both of which contributed profoundly to the Discover Moroccan culture;development of this visual practice.

8With the Meknes Festival (1991), Moroccan cinema found itself, for the first time, in a position open to the future. The films presented in the competition heralded the birth of a new generation of filmmakers eager to explore new themes, using cinematographic and writing tools with a popular dimension. Then there was the Tangier Festival in 1995, to reveal new Moroccan talent living abroad and invite these young filmmakers to enter the field of Moroccan cinematographic creation, particularly after the support fund was endowed with a budget to offer filmmakers the opportunity to work in better, more professional conditions.

Discover Moroccan culture

Thus, in the mid-90s, with the holding of the first “Assises du Cinéma” in Casablanca (1996) and the deepening of the role of the State and the CCM in promoting the film sector, the film industry was transformed into a genuine new cultural stake in the audiovisual sector, gradually freeing it from the stranglehold of control to which it had been subjected for decades. This new openness is also giving new impetus to young filmmakers and consolidating the regulation of the film sector, despite the disorder that reigns in the sector, the profound gap between regulation and practice, piracy and the failure to exploit natural resources that have made southern Morocco a rallying point for international filmmakers.

Discover Moroccan culture;10On the other hand, Morocco is experiencing a major and growing paradox between the desire to develop the Moroccan film industry and the constraints of reception. This is due to the decline in the number of cinemas, to the point where they were threatened with extinction, particularly with the increasingly preponderant presence of television and video in Moroccan families, as well as the appearance of CDs and their rapid spread at the start of the new millennium. The initiative taken in extremis by the CCM to support the renovation of certain cinemas through tax exemptions, however, will go some way to redressing this trend, by saving some of these cinemas in the major cities.

Discover Moroccan culture

11From this point of view, the cinematographic field can be considered the cultural phenomenon that is attracting the most interest in Morocco. After having been the sector most subject to censorship by the State and its apparatus, it has now become the preferred area for support and development. And yet, cinema needs this support and development at a time when it is the king of the arts, when people frequent cinemas in search of an imaginary alternative to reality, and when residential neighborhoods are always packed, making going to the movies a most intimate and symbolic family and personal event.

Discover Moroccan culture

Discover Moroccan culture;12 This is the paradox we’ve been experiencing since the launch of the support fund in 1984, and then, in particular, since the strengthening of this fund following the 1996 Casablanca conference and the establishment of a new charter between the players in this field. In fact, this initiative and this attention have been contemporaneous with two important events concerning cinematographic infrastructures. The first is the renovation of the CCM laboratories: Moroccan filmmakers are no longer obliged to have the necessary technical operations carried out abroad, as long as they can have the work done locally at reasonable cost and with acceptable professionalism. These laboratories are even acquiring a continent-wide reputation, and more and more African directors are turning to them. The second fact concerns the modernization of the studios in Ouarzazate, a region which, since the 1950s, has been the shooting location for such great classics of world cinema as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves (1954), Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Tea in the Sahara (1990). It was precisely during the latter period, in the 90s, that the studios, founded by Compagnie Atlas in the early 80s, underwent a major transformation, preserving the memory of the films shot on site in the form of a museum, and enabling them to provide the services needed for production. The Ouarzazate studios have since acquired a solid reputation, along with their comparses and technicians. What’s more, some of the latter have demonstrated unfailing professionalism.

At the end of the 80s, Moroccan filmmakers became aware of the paradox that governed their cinematographic production, and with it their artistic and social destiny. At the time, and despite the invasive arrival of television on the audiovisual scene, cinema still lived in cinemas, and cinemas were still places of entertainment. However, Moroccan films were unable to reach audiences thirsty for spectacle. The latter remains under the sway of Hollywood, Egyptian and Indian cinema, as well as Egyptian soap operas, which capture virtually all Moroccan audiences. In the 70s, the pace of production was still slow, its steps hesitant, and the search for cinematic themes still in its infancy. This tragic situation – of which those in charge became aware, bolstering the support fund, and which filmmakers reflected by embarking on a search for themes likely to appeal to audiences and aesthetics specific to Moroccan film – gave rise to two types of cinema: the first, seeking to please the public, through exciting, comic or TV-style themes; the second, aiming to develop a strong auteur cinema, which is not concerned with the public as an existing reality, but as a virtual reality to be created.

14It goes without saying that the question of the audience arose in the context of the poor history of Moroccan cinema prior to the 90s, where scarcity was combined with a lack of means and the absence of infrastructure and mediation (suitable cinemas, critics, reviews and film programs). When, in the early 90s, critics proclaimed that “Moroccan cinema had reconciled itself with its public”, referring to the films of Abdelkader Lagtaa, Hakim Noury and Mohamed Abderrahmane Tazi, they were betting on a kind of mirage. Indeed, these three filmmakers do nothing to improve their experience: Tazi puts himself on a decade-long moratorium, Lagtaa fails to develop his cinema in the expected way, while Noury embarks on making films of the most artificial construction and intellectual foundation.

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