By Rachid Khouya
By Rachid Khouya
Morocco World News
Es-Smara, Morocco, February 25, 2012
Demonstrations in the streets are lead by the illiterate, while intellectuals chose to keep silent and watch.
In his book ‘Like the Flowing River’, Paulo Coelho quotes the Persian poet Rumi ‘s that “life is like being sent by a king to another country in order to carry out a particular task. The person sent may do a hundred other things in that other country, but if he or she fails to fulfill the particular task he or she was charged with, it is as if nothing had been done.”
Reading this passage has inspired me to stop for a while and to ask a question that many philosophers, historians, literary critics and scholars have long been asking about the role of intellectuals in our societies and their mission in life besides getting higher degrees, working in famous and well known universities, getting good jobs with good and high salaries, living like kings with golden crowns on their heads or their heads over their crowns.
Historically, during the French colonization of our country at the end of the 19th century until independence, intellectuals had joined the nationalism movement to fight for the country’s freedom and emancipation and to answer the call of the nation at a moment when the whole nation was under colonial oppression. In this context comes the saying of the Algerian writer Asia Djebar that intellectuals, especially writers and poets, “had one clearly defined goal: to wrestle political and economic power from the French colonizer and take control of the nation.”
Accordingly, this was the main mission of the African writers and intellectuals in general, including Moroccans of course. They had been the eyes and the ears of society before and after independence. Furthermore, they had the responsibility of awakening the national consciousness of the citizens, guide them and show them the way like a candle in a dark night.
This social status of the writer as spokesman of his society and his fellows citizens is depicted clearly by the Kenyan writer Nugugi Wa Thingo in his ‘Homecoming.’ When asked why does he write, he replied: “I write about people. I am interested in their hidden lives; their fears and hopes, their loves and hates, and how the very tension in their hearts affects their daily contact with other men. How, in other words, the emotional stream of the man within interacts with the social reality.”
Therefore, educated people were considered as the real soldiers who took the responsibility of using language, words and pens as swords to defend the national dignity, integrity and the cultural heritage of the group. They were under the moral obligation of providing satisfactory answers to all questions raised on the social and the political scene. Their mission is “to provide a vision for those who are going to rule and control their society.” Basically, the writer “must be a person who has some kind of conception of society in which he is living and the way he wants his society to go.”
Nationally, a lot of Moroccan writers, like Driss Chraibi, Mohamed Choukri to mention just a few, writing in both in Arabic and French, attempted through their writings to attract the attention of the general public to the darkest corners of society, to depict all forms of corruption, injustice, oppression, exploitation and inequality. But, they were faced with those so called elites who were taking the place of the colonizers in managing the national political life and who had inherited the seats of the colonizers.
As a result, those national writers who chose to speak on behalf pf the oppressed and the marginalized were isolated, rejected and alienated. Sometimes, they were exiled or forced to leave the country so as to not to disturb those rulers and those in their circle while eating ‘the national cake’ as they call it.
In Morocco, the writings of both Driss Chraibi and Choukri, for instance, were described as a revolution against all social and cultural norms and hindrances that chain the individual, whether it be religious, parental or political. They tried to unveil the social hypocrisy of the so called ‘conservative society’ through tackling taboo subjects like: prostitution, homosexuality, corruption, drugs and addiction.
In other words, those writers who believed that the word and writings must be a mirror held up to society to show the other image and the true face of Morocco as it is, not as others want it to be. Their voices were a loud outcry of wounded hearts and hungry stomachs and weeping poor homeless children and women asking just for the minimum to guarantee basic living conditions in their country. But, for whom do they ring the bells? Unfortunately they were alienated and rejected.
Today, with all the new changes in Moroccan political life and with the blowing of the wind of the Arab Spring on our country, we see that our intellectuals, philosophers and critics have chosen the rule of `silence is golden`. They have been watching and waiting without having a say in what happens in the Moroccan street. Instead of being the leaders and the real players they have chosen to stay in their chairs and watch the game from the stands of the stadium.
It hurts to see that writers, thinkers and philosophers like Mohamed Sbilla, Abdelkrim El khatibi, Aballah El Arwi, Mohamed Chiekh, Ali Omlil, and others have left the teenagers, the illiterate, and some others with hidden agendas lead the demonstrations and speak on behalf of the people. It is in this moment of change that societies need their intellectuals and for leaders to get up, speak, guide and lead.
I believe that leaving the country’s boat between the waves, watching the country sink and to do nothing to save it from the likely drowning maybe understood by the future generations as a conspiracy against the nation. The death of Mohamed Al Jabri left us and our intellectuals as orphans. But still as Sartre said, the intellectual must shake the world or be shaken from it. What are we waiting for? Dearest intellectuals: time to shake-up the scene and have a say in what is happening in our beloved country. It is a shame to let the lions be lead by the sheep.
Rachid Khouya is a teacher of English in Es Smara city, south of Morocco. He obtained a Bachelor Degree in English studies from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. He published many articles and stories in different regional and national Moroccan newspapers. He is an active member of MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English). He is interested in education, human rights and citizenship.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved