Category Archives: Morocco

HAVE YOU HEARD OF FADO?

Well, .. Fado and Portuguese culture are one and the same. 

The sound of the fado music at night time,  played in a context of an entire city shaped on moasaic-style sidewalks , narrow streets, women hanging their washing on balconies, the aboundance smell of seafood, are the memories we take with us from Portugal.

Fado is currently a world wide known symbol of Portugal, being represented for many years in foreign countries by Amália Rodrigues, the Singer we have chosen for this video.

She’s been credited with defining the style of the music, and when she died in 1999, the government declared three days of national mourning and awarded her a state funeral.

Fado, which means “destiny” or “fate” in Portuguese, is an oral tradition, recognized by UNESCO as part of the intangible heritage of humanity , a genre of music born in Lisbon that can be traced to the early 1800s. With its earlier roots, having emerged, according to many researchers, as a fusion between the music of African slaves and the traditional music of Portuguese sailors, enriched with some Arabic elements, Fado is sometimes called Portugal’s soul music, for it is often characterized as mournful, and lyrics often tell the stories of pain and poverty.

Blog Video 74 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.

THE OTHER SIDE OF MOROCCO

While millions of tourists like ourselves visit Morocco every year because of the stunning landscapes, bustling markets and its unique desert , very few are aware or choose  to acknowledge the poverty and hidden human rights abuse that occurs behind closed doors.

In Morocco, (a country with a French colonial history),  thousands of children—predominantly girls and some as young as eight—work in private homes as domestic workers. Known as petites bonnes, (little maids)  they typically come from poor, rural areas hoping for a better life in the city and the opportunity to help their family financially. Instead, they often encounter physical and verbal violence, isolation, and seven-days-a-week labor that begins at dawn and continues until late at night. They are poorly paid and almost none attend school.

There is some indication that things are starting to change in Morocco.  The government and international human rights organizations report that the number of girls working as petites bonnes is declining.  This is due in part to the fact that public awareness about the problems faced by petites bonnes has been raised due to an increase in media attention and public education campaigns undertaken by the Moroccan government, NGOs, and United Nations agencies.   The Moroccan government has also taken steps to increase school enrollment and this has helped reduce the number of children engaged in child labor.

Rather than just focus on the “exotic” side of Morocco, we have also chosen to mention the dark side, in hope that the message keeps circulating and eventually child labor, not just in Morocco but in the world, is eliminated.

Blog Video 73 from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.

A Taste of Morocco

One thing we learnt in Morocco is that time doesn’t matter.  There is an old Berber proverb that says, “He, who rushes is already dead.

Visiting the ancient and crowded  Medinas, ( the old city) like Fes founded in 789 can be overwhelming in many ways. The expression “ it is an attack to your senses” is nothing short of the truth. Fes medieval center has not changed for centuries. Its narrow alleys house hundreds of merchants and craftsmen selling everything you could imagine.

Your eyes are captured by the bright colours of thousands of fabrics, carpets, donkeys, fresh vegetables, cats stealing the butchers meat, beggars, and so much more.

Your nose can’t help to follow the aroma of the spices and oils that eventually drag you to people selling fresh Tajinas , bread, sweets and mint tea.

Your ears go from one voice to another welcoming you in four different languages and then the invite into their shop.

As for your touch, well…the warmth of the red sand of the Moroccan desert underneath your feet whilst watching the sunset is just too much of a challenge to describe.

Blog Video 72 (L) from SAMt & Bike Without Borders on Vimeo.