By Khattab Bouabid
By Khattab Bouabid
Morocco World News
March 17, 2012
Mawazine (“Rhythms”) is a festival of world music that takes place every year in the Moroccan capital of Rabat, featuring Arab and international music icons from all parts of the world. The first festival took place in 2001 and since then the festival has gained a world wide following that makes it an attractive destination for music stars. Nevertheless, the festival also arouses controversy. It is contentious due to different opinions about it. From the point of view of its organizers and advocates, it is seen as an artistic event intended to promote an image of Morocco as a tolerant nation and Rabatas as a city open to the world. But for some Moroccan citizens and politicians, it is a waste of financial and other resources and, as some of the country’s Muslim politicians have stated, it encourages immoral behavior.
2012 represents the 11th annual Mawazine which is being held at a very delicate time. The new tide of Arab Spring revolutions and the resulting instability overwhelming some Moroccan cities is a situation that may play a crucial role either in the success or the failure of this year’s festival. The current social and political situation in Morocco will affect the way Moroccans perceive such an event, and may push them to ask a question: Do we really need Mawazine or can we better use the money which will be spent on it? The answer for this question will be clear in the coming days.
Even so, throughout the 10 previous festivals, Mawazine was a noticeable success. Every year, it featured very famous musicians from different parts of the world. For instance, in 2008 Whitney Houston, Juanes, Goran Bregovic, George Benson, Tony Allen,and Issac Delgado performed on Mawazine stages. In 2009, Kylie Minogue, Alicia Keys, and Stevie Wonder came to Rabat. The shows attracted about one million people from cities like Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, Tangier, and Rabat. The festival has also brought the famous Arab singers Najwa Karam, Tamer Hosny, Cheb Khaled, Warda Al-Jazairia, Elissa, Wael Kfoury, Majida El Roumi, Myriam Fares, and Rami Ayach. In 2010, Shakira lighted the stage for 30 minutes then flew to Spain to celebrate Barcelona’s soccer victory with her boyfriend Gerard Pique.
It is clear that Mawazine brings famous stars with names known all over the world, but what they were paid for their short performances is striking. This represents a sore point that the majority of Moroccans still talk about. They can’t figure out how some singers get such a large sum of money for performing for two hours or less. It also seems very strange because the government complains about a lack of financial liquidity and at the same time it has been able to pay those huge sums of money. That was a real contradiction. The following numbers from press sources show it clearly. For example, Shakira was paid 899,731.26 EUR for only a 30 minutes performance, Mariah Carey got 627,946.52 EUR, Whitney Houston got 672,796.79 EUR, Stevie Wonder got 448,531.11 EUR and every other singer got their share of the pie. The pie which Moroccans have never had the chance to taste and are always deprived of benefiting from. Moroccan citizens don’t need a show that makes them forget their problems for only two hours, they need to feel a change in their socioeconomic and political life that lasts. Furthermore, instead of wasting money on such events and pretend to the world we are happy and satisfied, it would be better to give a little importance to issues that concern the society.
Now, with the newly elected government composed of mostly the Islamist Party of Justice and Development, everybody is waiting for its response to this festival. Throughout the past years, the PJD has criticized sharply the establishment of such festivals and gave many reasons for refusing to support them. The timing of the festival is not convenient because it’s held in the month when students prepare for final exams in school. So this event disturbs their focus and can lead them to waste their time at the expense of academic achievement. Another reason given by the Islamists during the previous festivals is the fiscal laxity in the context of a global and local economic crisis.
The questions that arise right now are: will this scenario repeat itself this year, or will the socioeconomic and political challenges cause the even to fail? No one can predict what will happen but the only thing that is sure is the preparations for this event have begun and until now there is no opposition and the coming days will clarify everything.
Edited by Jasmine Davey
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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