Thursday, November 13, 2014


1002297_624600827563590_100236093_n village of Imilchil lies high in the Middle Atlas Mountains, on the Plateau du Lac in the valley of Assif Melloul (“white river”), and is home to the Ait Hdiddou tribe.
Imilchil Moussem, or marriage festival is held each year in mid-September, and has become one of Morocco’s most popular Festivals, attracting romantics from all over the world. Filled with Berber dancing, drumming and chanting, the three day feast sees up to 40 couples tie the knot, and many others find their prospective partner. Single women, divorcees and widows searching for a husband are adorned in traditional cloaks and hoods, eagerly anticipating marriage proposals. When a woman accepts a proposal, she says to her suitor “You have captured my liver”, and the match is made!
8p96wd25According to legend, a young man and woman from two local tribes fell in love, but were forbidden to see each other as their parents were sworn enemies. The lovers cried themselves to deathPaidVerts , each forming a lake from their tears – Lake Isli (meaning groom in Berber) and Lake Tisli (meaning bride).
As a tribute to their memories, the guilt-stricken families initiated a betrothal festival on the anniversary of the lover’s death, during which couples from different tribes were allowed to meet and marry each other.
Today the festival is a meeting place for young tribal people from the Ait Haddidou and Er Rachidia region, giving them the opportunity to find a lifelong partner. Parents usually accompany young women and assist them in finding suitable partners, whereas older candidates (due to their position within the tribe) can choose their own husbands without having to ask for parental consent.
8p96wd25The engagement party at Imilchil is one of the biggest attractions of festival, where the theme is of course love. Much attention is devoted to this event as it has a lot of cultural significance, and it gives an opportunity to ensure the survival of the old traditional marriage story and share it with a worldwide audience.
The Imilchil Moussem generates a huge amount of revenue for the region, as it attracts an influx of domestic and foreign visitors – in excess of 30,000 during the course of the three day event. To increase its appeal further, the traditional folk aspect of the festival has been increased, and includes old traditional music and Berber dances such as Ait Hdidou, Talsint, and the waltzes of the pretty dancing bee (Nahla) to Kelaa M’gouna .
The festival is dependent on the harvest, so dates are not fixed, but it usually falls in mid-September. Imilchil is accessible most easily from the South – Tineghir / Erfoud / Er Rachidia /Midelt. 4×4 transport is essential, and a guide or driver recommended.198713_fr_imilchil


maroc sasn complexes!Morocco possesses a diverse and lively history that witnessed a long
succession of different ruling people such as the Romans, French, Spanish, Jews, Arabs and Berbers. This diversity is reflected through many aspects of Moroccan life, namely the languages, the clothing, the cuisine, and the culture.
Traveling from region to region in Morocco might seem more like traveling from country to country. For the diversity of culture from one city to the next is striking. However, in general, Morocco can be divided into two main cultures: Arab and Berber. And, each one has its own charm. Tourists visiting Morocco will definitely not get bored as with every step they take, they are bound to discover Morocco’s eclectic heritage.
The Berbers were the first inhabitants of North Africa and they are also considered its indigenous people. The history of the Berber people goes back more than 5000 years ago. The Berbers are a group of people who migrated possibly from the Middle east or Eurasia to as far west the Atlantic coast and all the way down to Mali, Niger, and Burkina. It wasn’t until the 7th century with the Arab invasion that the Berbers became ‘Arabized’ and converted to Islam.
There are three main Berber groups in Morocco who speak three varieties of the Berber language. Berbers from the Rif, in northern Morocco, speak Tarifit, Berbers from the Middle Atlas region speak Tamazight, and those from the High Atlas and Souss regions in the South speak Tashelheet. The Berber text is different from Arabic and is called Tifinagh.

Berbers, referred to as Shlooh by most Moroccans, represent more than half of the Moroccan population and live mainly in the south of Morocco. There have been a lot of efforts nowadays to preserve the Berber identity and to promote its culture. As a result, the Berber language has recently been introduced in primary schools as a compulsory language.image The main characteristics of Berber culture are their nomadic way of life, their folkloric music, fine poetry and silver jewelry.
The Arabs experienced a different history in Morocco. When they invaded Morocco in the late 7th century, their conquest was met with fierce resistance from the Berber tribes. The Arabs eventually succeeded in taking over Morocco and forcing the Berbers to adopt the Arab culture and Muslim religion.
The Arabs represent about 40% of the Moroccan population and live mainly in the northern regions of Morocco. One of the main characteristics of Arab culture in Morocco are their customs, language, music, religion, food, and dress, just to name a few.
Apart from the Berber and Arab influences in Morocco, there is also an Andalusian influence in the North and a Sub-Saharan influence in the south. imageDue to

the Christian conquest of Spain, there were many Muslim and Jewish exiles from Spain into Morocco, which explains the Spanish/Andalusian element in Morocco’s culture, notably in the music and food. In the south of Morocco you will notice many black Moroccans. During the caravan trades, many slaves were brought up from possibly Guinea, and there influence is prevalent in the type of music known as Gnawa, especially in Marrakech which was a main caravan stop.
It is worth mentioning that the official language of Morocco is Arabic. Most Moroccans, no matter what their origins are, speak Arabic. There is a minority of Berber nomads who do not speak Arabic.
So, on your next visit to Morocco, keep your senses awake to experience Morocco’s diversity.image


An exceptional melding of flavors from the Berber,Arabic, French, Spanish and Jewish cultures that left their mark on the country, Moroccan cuisine is rich in color, spice and texture. Not only is it tasty fare (a given), but it’s beautifully presented and created to have alluring scents. Interestingly, the best food is said to be found in people’s homes, not restaurants; Moroccans serve guests bountiful meals, as it’s considered a disgrace if you let your guests leave a meal while they’re still hungry .
Lunch is the main meal and, like most, is served on low tables surrounded by cushions. You eat Moroccan food from a communal bowl with the first three fingers of your right hand (not the left, which is reserved for the toilet!). You may also scoop up the food with any bread that is served. While there are innumerable Moroccan dishes, of course, three of the most typical meals are couscous, tagine and harira. Couscous is a grain often cooked with spices, veggies, nuts and raisins; meat may also be added. It can be eaten as a side dish or main meal. Tagine is a spicy stew cooked in an earthenware vessel also called a tagine, from which the stew gets its name. Harira is considered Morocco’s national soup, although it’s more like a thick paste. Like couscous and tagine, it has many variations, but traditionally consists of bouillon, beef or mutton, onions, saffron and walnuts.
As Morocco is bordered by both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, fish is a popular entrée. Lamb and chicken are also widely available; beef is rare. Some common spices used are cumin, coriander, saffron, chilies, dried ginger, cinnamon andpaprika. Nuts are prevalent in Moroccans’ diets, as is fruit, which is often served as dessert. Figs and dates are especially popular. When confections are on the menu, they’re often treats made from almonds, cinnamon and fruits rolled in phyllo dough, then soaked in honey .
Moroccans always serve mint tea at the end of meals. But don’t look for any alcohol, as imbibing is against the rules of Islam. Speaking of which, as Muslims, Moroccans must fast from dawn until dusk during the 30 days of Ramadan, so restaurants are closed during the day. Most families prepare harira to eat as soon as the sun goes down, followed by a larger meal later in the evening . Religion influences other aspects of Moroccan culture as well, particularly when it comes to what people wear.couscous marocaincouscous


1. Skin Moisturiser
skin-moisturiserArgan oil is most commonly used as a skin moisturiser to hydrate and soften skin. With its high vitamin E and fatty acid content, argan oil is the ideal product to give skin a natural boost. It absorbseasily and is non-greasy and non-irritating, which makes it a great natural moisturiser.
It is easy to use all over the body, including the face and neck. Simply smooth a few drops into your skin using gentle rubbing motions, as you would any face andbody lotion.
2. Hair Conditioner
hair-treatmentArgan oil is proven to make hair softer, silkier and shinier. It is the ideal hair conditioner, and it can even help to treat split ends and tame frizzy hair. Using argan oil to condition your hair is extremely easy. It comes in several types of applications and products and has so many ways to use it for different results that we decided to write an in-depth guide to using Argan oil for hair.
3. Sleek and Shine Styling
shiny-straight-hairDue to its ability to tame frizz and give hair shine, argan oil is also commonly used as a styling agent. It makes hair more manageable and adds a healthy, attractive shine to any hair style. This is an ideal step to add to your daily routine after blow-drying. Rub a few drops of argan oil over your palms and then comb your fingers through your hair to apply.
Not only does argan oil act as an effective moisturiser, it can also give skin a youthful glow and reduce the visibility of wrinkles. Its anti-oxidant effect makes argan oil the ideal anti-aging product. It restores elasticity and leaves skin feeling plumper and softer.
The best way to apply argan oil for the most prominent anti-aging effects is to massage a few drops into your face and neck before bed. It acts as a moisturiser and anti-ager all in one.
5. Dry Skin Conditions
People suffering from dry skin or conditions such as eczemawhich can leave skin raw, flaky and itchy will benefit immensely from argan oil. The vitamin E and fatty acids in argan oil are excellent for repairing damaged skin and providing it with nutrients which will prevent further dryness and irritation. Argan oil also contains ingredients which soothe skin. Applying a small amount of oil directly to afflicted skin and massaging in gently can provide relief and encourage healing.
6. Acne
Where many oils and moisturisers can exacerbate skin conditions such as acne, argan oil actually soothes afflicted skin and promotes healing. Acne is often the result of oily skin. Since argan oil is non-greasy, it helps to balance skin by providing natural moisture. Argan oil also contains anti-oxidants which help to heal damaged skin cells and reduce inflammation.
Applying a few drops of argan oil to skin afflicted by acne after cleansing and patting dry ensures that essential moisture and nutrients are introduced to clean, dry skin. Rubbing in gently and repeating twice daily can help clear up mild acne as well as balancing oily or dry skin.
7. Protection and Healing
The antioxidants in argan oil are generally beneficial for healing skin which is irritated, cracked, damaged or even burned. It is best used as a preventive for dry or sore skin, but it can also be used to speed up healing. Its properties include reducing inflammation, soothing pain and increasing healing rate.
Smoothing a few drops of argan oil into sore or damaged skin helps to speed up the healing process.
8. Pregnancy
Stretch marks are an issue for many pregnant women, but argan oil is the ideal protection against stretch marks and sagging, puckered skin after birth. Argan oil increases the elasticity of skin due to its vitamin E content. Using a few drops of argan oil to rub into breasts, stomach, bottom and thighs during pregnancy will reduce the likelihood of developing unsightly stretch marks.
Argan oil is also idea for keeping skin and hair soft, healthy and hydrated during pregnancy.
9. Foot, Hand and Nail Treatment
Argan oil’s softening properties are ideal for brittle nails, dry hands and cracked, hard skin on feet. It both moisturises and softens skin, leaving hands and feet supple and soft and nails strong and healthy. Try massaging a few drops of argan oil into cuticles, hands and feet before bed each night.
10. Lip Moisturiser
Especially in cold or dry weather, lips can easily become sore, dry and cracked. Argan oil is the ideal product to ensure lips stay plump, soft and supple. Rub a drop or two into dry lips as a balm – but be sure to wipe off any excess.
All This… In One Bottle
argan-oilThe best thing about argan oil is that is can be safely used in its pure form and doesn’t need to be bought as an ingredient in lotions, conditioners and moisturizers. One bottle of argan oil is extremely versatile and can be used for all these benefits. This miracle oil will change the way you live your life.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Tamazight: Combatting “Linguistic Terrorism” in Morocco Friday 3 October 2014 - 09:28

By Lahcen Ait Idir
Azilal, Morocco There is currently a long-running debate about the merits of diversity within societies.  One of the arguments that keeps reverberating is that diversity — whether cultural or linguistic — is a double-edged sword, with definite pros and cons, some “happy” and some “unhappy.”
This article lands on the side of “unhappy talk” about linguistic diversity in Morocco. It highlights how language differences are employed to suppress and stigmatize “minor” (in terms of power) languages such as Tamazight, one of Morocco’s indigenous languages. Not only is Tamazight seemingly not socially recognized, but it carries with it political, academic, and institutional stigma, and has been subject to “linguistic terrorism” over the years in Morocco. This article sets out to unravel how the Tamazight language is a source of anxiety for the dominant culture expressed in Arabic, and how it has therefore had to be suppressed.
“Linguistic terrorism” is defined by anthropologists as “the suppression of the mother tongue [of a group of people] by another dominant group” (De katzew, 14).  In the Moroccan “melting-pot” society, “minor languages” such as Tamazight are subject to stereotypes. Tamazight is discredited and “demonized” and frequently associated with the concepts of being “illegitimate,” “bastard,” “different” and “orphan.” Amazigh people perceive their language as “inferior” because it is made to be seen as inferior by the prevailing culture articulated in Arabic. Thus, Amazigh people are looked down upon because they speak a “different” language, causing them to hide their identities and feel ashamed. This fact manifests itself (as in Hegelian philosophy) in different everyday contexts such as in administrations, hospitals, schools, courts, and markets.
In this same line of thought, the term “Berbers” that is used to refer to Imazighen is “linguistically violent.” In history, this term was originally used by the Greeks to indicate people who spoke languages other than classical Greek. Eventually, the same term was used to refer to “people in North Africa who didn’t speak Latin,” a practice that was adopted by the Arabs that later settled in North Africa and referred to [Imazighen] as ‘Barbar’” (El Allame, 181). ”The Berbers”thus became a derogatory term, a “political definition” and “a violent word; speakers of the Tamazight language prefer to be called Imazighen.
Politically, Tamazight does not enjoy full recognition in the Moroccan Constitution, an issue to which the current government has turned a blind eye. Tamazight is politically excludedand is afforded attention only in moments of political tension and electoral campaigns. Morever, religious factors have contributed to the development of stereotypical representation and suppression of Tamazight. These include the belief that Arabic is the only language of Islam, which leads people to build a strong link between Arab ethnicity and the essence of Islam. For these people, to be Muslim, one should belong to the Muslim community and the pan-Arab nation.
Because of the above historical, political, and religious factors, the dominant group in Moroccoconstructs and enhances negative attitudes towards Tamazight language and identity. These attitudes are replete with stereotypical representation and “violent words” which, in one way or another, affect the Amazigh self-perception and perception of (the other) The statements uttered by the non-Amazigh about Tamazight illustrate this constructed social stigma. These taken-for-granted statements — which are proudly and thoughtlessly made — include: “Tamazight is a prehistoric language,” “Tamazight is useless and is not going to help you ‘earn your bread,’” and “Tamazight is not a language as the cat is not a bird.” Subjectively and stereotypically informed, these statements reveal the imprisoned frames of mind that construct solely negative qualities about Tamazight. The attitude that “Tamazight is useless” denies the pivotal role language plays in informing its speakers’ identities. For those with such a negative attitude, the idea that “I am what I speak” is not the common sense.
These attitudes impact Imazighens’ perception of themselves, their language, and their identity. In an attempt to avoid “the psychological and social unrest and the fear of being excluded from the social group, [Imazighen] abandon their language and minimize their linguistic and ethnic identity” (El Allame, 187). As a consequence, Amazigh feel ashamed of themselves and their language which they label in such shameful statements as “learning Tamazight is a fiasco,” “Tamazight is a bastard language,” and “Using Tamazight derides one’s social status.” All these statements are reveal the degree to which the Amazigh people have internalized the feeling that they will not be socially acknowledged unless they abandon their language and use Arabic instead. This further emphasizes their “inferiority complex” as they perceive the Arabs and the Arab language as enjoying a “higher position” within society.

Lastly, insufficient support from the State plays a pivotal role in Tamazight’s stigmatization and denial. For example, Tamazight is given less importance and is almost absent in the Moroccan education system. Schools have been a tool for Tamazight’s suppression, since Arabic is the only language used for communication and thus denying the Amazigh any chance to learn their own language and impeding their learning process. Amazigh people then stop transmitting their language to their children, for they believe it is a source of an “inferiority complex” if their children go to school without knowing Arabic (EL Allame, 184). This makes Amazigh children feel locked outand too ashamed to deal with their instructors.
In fact, some instructors themselves hold a negative attitude towards Tamazight and its speakers. This impacts the psychology of students and breeds low self-worth and the fear of being unacceptable because of the “different” language one speaks, Tamazight. Once again, students feel ashamed of their language, and they start “blaming themselves” for a language that their mother transmitted to them in their early life (El Allame, 2009). In fact, all these feelings develop from the perception and derogatory words of the dominant group towards the Tamazight language and Amazigh identity.
The misconstruction of cultural and linguistic differences within societies is often times fueled by a deficiency in reasoning and thinking. The other’s difference is equated with ‘wrongness’ and ‘illegitimacy’ by the dominant group. In order to peacefully and serenely live side by side and appreciate diversity, we must respect and accept the language, culture and identity of others. Such respect and acceptance will diminish  linguistic terrorism’ (use double quotes as you have been the rest of the article) and ‘clash of cultures’ between people of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

North Africa's Berbers get boost from Arab Spring Published May 05, 2012Associated Press

One of Said Lakenizaa's two remaining cows fell sick and died last year as he led it down the steep dirt track from his village in Morocco's Atlas mountains to the rest of the world.
It was the second time he'd lost a cow because the lack of paved roads hampered access to health care, for animals and humans. But now, after enduring their lot for years, the 40 Berber families in Azdine have started protesting for better services. They demonstrated in front of local government offices four times in the past year.
The Arab Spring has galvanized the Berbers, North Africa's original inhabitants, to push for their own political and cultural rights, with some success -- they have secured official recognition for their language in Morocco. But the new political openness has also brought to power their implacable enemies, the Islamists, possibly setting the stage for a new conflict in an already volatile region.
Lakenizaa says they are just struggling to improve their lot, and neglected by an Arab-dominated government.
"We are demonstrating because we are tired of their lies. The government said it was going to build a road, but it is still not here," he said, sitting inside his stone hut, which lacks both electricity and running water. "As soon as the people in the government realize you are a Berber peasant, they don't care about you."
Berber dreams go beyond the basics.
They long for northwestern Africa to be a unique region with its own Berber heritage and culture — not just a lesser-populated extension of the Arab heartland of Egypt, Syria and the Gulf. And they say it would be a good deal more liberal and tolerant than the rest of the Arab Middle East.
"We are a society apart, we are different — different by language, different by culture," said Rachid Tijani, an activist from the town of Khenifra, near Lakenizaa's village.
In Berber societies, he said, there is no rigid segregation of the sexes as in traditional Arab tribes, and there is more of a separation between religion and state. While most Berbers are Muslim, they pride themselves on seculartraditions at odds with some of the Islamist movements gaining ground in the region.
As the Arab Spring swept through the Middle East last year, Berbers in every country in North Africa took advantage of the new climate of freedom to push forward their own long-simmering demands.
There are no official figures for the number of Berbers in North Africa, but estimates for those who speak one of the many Berber languages are around 25-30 million, mainly concentrated in Morocco and Algeria.
In Morocco, where they make up 50 percent of the population, they became an integral part of the pro-democracy movement. And when King Mohammed VI presented a raft of reforms to defuse the protests shaking the country last year, he included a constitutional amendment to make the Berber language, Tamazight, an official language alongside Arabic.
In Tunisia, the small Berber community has formed its first cultural associations and is once again speaking its forbidden language. In Libya, the Berbers were a key part of the rebel force that overthrew Moammar Gadhafi. In Mali, the Tuareg, another Berber people, have armed themselves and are declaring a homeland in large swatches of the north.
Yet the same Arab Spring has also brought to power Islamist parties that traditionally have seen the Amazigh, as the Berbers call themselves, as a threat.
"Overall, increased democratization ... provides greater space for the Amazigh to promote their cause, but it also does so for the Islamists, who generally view the Amazigh movement with disdain, or worse," noted Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a leading expert on the Berbers. "As the Islamists have the momentum on their side, it appears that the Amazigh movement has its work cut out for it."
Islamist movements, which have come to power in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco and are poised for strong showings in upcoming elections in Libya and Algeria, are strong champions of Arab identity and Islam.
Berber activists in Morocco fear the Islamists now controlling the government may try to roll back the progress they have made since the Arab Spring. Several Berber villages in the northern Rif mountains rioted in March after a local activist was arrested, blocking highways and clashing with police for days.
The newly-elected Islamist prime minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, has been publicly dismissive of the Berber movement, describing their ancient, rune-like alphabet as similar to Chinese and alien to Moroccans. Before the elections, Saadeddine al-Othmani, the No. 2 at Benkirane's Islamist party and later foreign minister, questioned the need to make Tamazight an official language.
"We are a Muslim country and the greatest resource of our government is Islam," he told the U.S. government-funded Magharebia website. "To raise Amazigh languages to the status of (Arabic), that is difficult."
Even though the new Moroccan constitution now recognizes Tamazight as an official language, its actual implementation in schools and the bureaucracy awaits a law that has to be written by Benkirane's government — which Berbers fear will fall short of their goals.
In response, the Berbers have been mobilizing. And this year, for the first time, they are holding their own demonstrations outside of the broader pro-democracy movement.
Youth activists have united in a movement born of the countless small local Amazigh associations scattered around remote parts of the country. It has held demonstrations in recent months in the capital Rabat and the commercial capital of Casablanca.
"We were all divided and couldn't get anything done, but with the rise of the Islamists, we have become united," said Mohammed el-Ouazguiti, an activist running a Berber website from the southern city of Marrakech.
"We are the opposite of them, we are the only movement in Morocco that is officially secular," he said, as 2,000 young Berber activists from all over Morocco marched and chanted through the streets of Casablanca.
The young men and women flashed the three-finger Berber victory signs and marched wrapped in the yellow, green and blue flags of the Berber movement that are now being waved across North Africa, from Libya to Mali to Morocco. They were calling for a release of Berber prisoners of conscience, a more democratic constitution and solidarity with other Berber movements in the region.
Modern history plays a part in the plight of the Berbers.
When the French colonized the region, they pitted the Berbers against the Arabs, trotting out anthropologists to categorize the Amazigh as an enlightened "European" race as opposed to the "backward" Arabs.
The result was an anti-Berber backlash when North Africa gained its independence in the 1950s and 1960s. Berbers pushing for their cultural and linguistic rights were seen as subversive and pro-European.
Some of the fiercest resistance to Arabization came from Algeria's Berbers, an estimated 30 percent of the country, who remain a center of opposition to the state and are widely seen to have founded the modern Berber rights movement in the 1960s from exile in France. Waves of Berber rights movements in Algeria have been met with harsh crackdowns.
Algeria and Morocco embarked on sweeping "Arabization" programs, ostensibly to cleanse French from their newly independent states but also to turn Berbers into Arabic speakers, said Ahmed Aasid, a Tamazight language expert at Morocco's Royal Institute for Amazigh Culture. He estimated that before independence, some 80 percent of Moroccans spoke Berber.
"Morocco was Arabized by the media and education," he said. "You don't need to Arabize a country that already speaks Arabic."
The language of the Amazigh, the defining aspect of their ethnicity, has always been central to the Berber struggle. But it is more than just a symbolic issue — for many, it has very practical consequences.
In Morocco's poor rural regions, Berber villagers often don't even speak the Moroccan dialect of Arabic, much less the high classical Arabic that is the official language of government and media.
Squatted on the packed earth floor of his hut high in the mountains, Lakenizaa maintains he knows nothing of political movements but is quick to say officials must learn Berber.
"All the representatives of the authority, from the lowest to the highest should learn to speak my language, otherwise they can just get away with whatever they want," he said, while two of his eight children played on his lap.
Lakenizaa at least can get by in the Moroccan dialect. But his wife, Mimouna, needs a relative to go with her any time she has to go into town to deal with the bureaucracy. If she ever had to go to court, she would need a translator to follow proceedings in her own country.
Dressed in a brilliant blue robe tied with a red sash, Mimouna fed bread loaves into a wood-fired clay oven.
"In front of the authorities," she said, "I just feel like a mute animal."