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Moroccans and the Waste of Time

Marrakech – Societies always reflect on their culture. It is logical to understand a society by studying its culture. The three elements of culture: product, practice, and perspective, contribute to shaping a private image of any society. Thus, culture enables people, sociologists in particular, to analyze a society, and maybe highlight its remarkable features, or discover its negative aspects.

I would like to tackle this topic regarding the Moroccan society, and see how culture reflects and mirrors Moroccans’ view of the concept of time. Although I’m using “Moroccans”, I’m not generalizing. I’m simply referring just to the majority of them.

Culture can reveal the way Moroccans appreciate and consider time. By studying the way they practice ceremonies and holidays, the way they produce and create things, and the perspectives they have towards abstract concepts, we might deduce some facts about the status of time in Moroccans daily life.

Beginning with the products: Tajin, Coscous, and Moroccan Tea are the famous traditional foods and drink, respectively. These products require more than two hours to be cooked, and at least an hour to be eaten, as all of them are eaten or drunk hot. Moroccans relax whenever they cook, even though it can waste half a day. No one cares about time, or consider how to save some of it for doing something else.

Besides food, some traditional or popular daily destinations might also take too much time. Among them is the Hamam, where Moroccans, mainly women, spend at least two hours bathing. Moroccans often stay in cafés for hours, just talking, watching football matches, or reading newsletters.

On the other hand,  ceremonies and celebrations may take more time than the above activities. For example, a wedding celebration might take few days. It is celebrated also from night until early morning. The day after the celebration is set aside to catch up on sleep. National and religious holidays are similar. It always takes too much time to celebrate them, as they can take more than three days.

In a direct way, time seems not to be precious for majority of Moroccans. Some Moroccans organize their social or even their professional appointments only by specifying “morning,” or “evening;” they never specify a defined time. Besides this, they also schedule their appointments only by the time of prayer. For example, “let us meet after the Al Asser prayer”

In the same context, some Moroccans might be late for an appointment, class, or work by half an hour, but they still consider this “on time.” Half an hour or an hour is “almost” on time. For example, in a bus station, you might be told that a bus is leaving right now. But when you get on the bus, you discover that “right now” means “in more than an hour.” If you are unlucky enough, you might be asked to change your bus because the one you are in is not going anywhere yet. It does not matter if you are in a hurry or you have something urgent to do in another city.

It is noteworthy that in such situations Moroccans describe the ones who are in a hurry as “dead people,” or “li zerbou matu.” So it’s better to take it easy, as it is always too early, “Mazal lhal” as Moroccans say.

Despite all this, Moroccans still have too much time. If you ask someone about what is he doing, he might answer with “nothing”, or rather, “nothing to be done”, while in truth there is a lot of work that needs to be done.

Instead, one might find many Moroccans, especially in the evening, walking for hours and hours everyday, which is their habit. They meet their friends and have long conversations, including asking about what’s new with them, to which most of them answer with “nothing,” or “Walo,” or “just with time,” “Gha Maa Lwaqt,” which has no meaning in the original language as well.

After asserting that culture can have an impact on the societies’ behavior and living standards, I cannot help but mention the role of education in changing the way Moroccans view time.

Education and teachers should adapt subjects that can promote people’s organization and appreciation of time, and educate them to respect time. Curricula should incorporate content that addresses students’ time out of the classroom.  Through education, we can change the negative aspects that we have in our culture.

It is not normal to be on Facebook or chat online, while reading books might be more useful. It is not normal to do everything slowly and have no appreciation for time, while we expect to develop as quickly as possible in order to compete with the developed countries.

We should all make an effort to change our behavior. Time is money; no development will be real without knowing how to organize our time, and how to effectively use it.

 Edited by Timothy Filla

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy

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