By Bilal Zahiri
By Bilal Zahiri
Paris – Mr. Khelfi’s recent decision to reduce foreign languages’ share on national television needs to be seen in a broader context.
Ingrained in our culture is the belief that leaving the homeland is the best means of improving our socio-economic status. We do not see immigration as a choice but as a goal, and until achieving that goal we judge each other based on how “western” we look or speak.
To whom does “we” refer? It’s the hundreds of thousands of Moroccans on Facebook, the disillusioned high school and university students, the unemployed, the disgruntled public servant who earns a meager salary—the majority of the Moroccan population. Clearly, we are not satisfied with our current status and we tend to blame our conditions on who we are and how we were raised. We neglect other factors such as incompetent leadership and corrupt leaderships, decrepit infrastructures and an outdated educational system.
These realities have led us to adopt the feeling that we are inferior to our foreign counterparts. When confronted about this self-defeatist thinking, most Moroccans would be quick to deny it. But when Westerners visit Morocco and take strolls in the medinas and beaches, most Moroccans are captivated by and express admiration for their visitors. Even if that Westerner happens to be a pedophile hunting for minors in our streets, they still command the same amount of attention.
The inferiority complex is further nurtured by our attitude in the economic realm. French, and increasingly English, are the lingua franca of business and you are judged favorably if you have fluency in these languages. European companies have significant business holdings in Morocco and manage big-scale projects such as TGV, Rabat and Casablanca tramways, and TangerMed. Unless you are a French speaker, you need not bother applying for work with these companies.
Regrettably, the inferiority complex inherent in the minds and attitudes of Moroccans is carried across the Mediterranean. For instance, when Moroccan students arrive in France, they try and do their best to forgo their Moroccan identities. They are quick to dispose of Arabic and Tamazight and in an attempt to socially “integrate”, they engage in drinking, smoking and fraternizing in nights in bars. I am not suggesting that every Moroccan succumbs to this pathetic change of lifestyle. I am alluding to those Moroccans who have lived in great luxury back home, who had cars before having a driver’s license! There is nothing more sad than a person who rather than celebrating his identity, he hides it and treats it with condescendence and disgrace.
I’m afraid that if I start talking about how diverse and rich our culture is, the reader might think that I am advocating for that false sense of patriotism. It’s great that we know how lucky we are to have such a rich culture, but let’s start appreciating our identity. Let’s celebrate being a melting pot and keep pushing towards greater advancement.
So how exactly is it possible? First, we need to make sure that foreign languages stay…foreign. Meaning that while it’s great and indispensable to speak many languages, our own have to take priority. The most important and representative element of culture is language; it is a way of saying “we are unique”. And as Dr. Mehdi Elmandjra insists, in human history, there isn’t a single nation that prospered culturally and economically using a language that is different from its own.
Consequently, when the government obliges a national TV channel to discriminate between our languages and foreign ones, we should show relief. It hurts me to write these words because I don’t agree with most of their policies. In many aspects, they are still neglecting vital issues such as unemployment, education and freedom of expression. While this is a humble start, imagine how using our own language would help revolutionize the way we look at our identity. The feeling of inferiority would disappear; students abroad would be better ambassadors of our traditions; companies would have easier communication and interaction; public administration would be more efficient as there will be no confusion caused by the use of two languages.
We have a long way to go. But it’s certainly an aim worthy of pursuit. We must stop rejecting our languages and embrace them for there is no alternative to development than true independence. If we must follow the West in everything, let me remind you that France 2, France 4, France 5, M6 and TF1 don’t broadcast TV programs in English, Spanish or any other languages; same for CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. These channels are respectively French and American. It is high time our media start being Moroccan.
Edited by Hisham El Koustaf
Bilal Zouheir is a graduate student at Rouen Business School, France. He is a contributor to Morocco World News.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy