By Brahim Koulila
By Brahim Koulila
Kenitra, Morocco – I am neither a local official nor a specialist in tourism. I am just a Moroccan citizen and an inhabitant of this city that I pity a lot. Kénitra, a Moroccan city (40 km [25 miles] from Rabat) in the northwest of the country on the River Sebou, seems to have been wronged for many years.
I have always wondered why this city is so marginalized; is it a financial problem? Does the government for that matter have a negative attitude towards it? Cannot it be another important touristic pole nationwide? Such questions have been kind of soliloquies that I often murmur when I am by myself. I believe that Kénitra could be among the best cities in Morocco. It has some of the necessary elements that a good, touristic city must have. However, the attitude of the Moroccan authorities towards it has contributed to its marginalization– Indeed, I say it is marginalized, for it could be better than what it is now.
Kénitra has the potential to be a good touristic city. Being on the River Sebou is already an advantage: Normally, a city on such an important river cannot but be beautiful and important. Also, Kénitra is not far from Mehdia Beach – only 12 km [8 miles] away. Granted, there are hardly any historical monuments in this city, but the (Mehdia) Kasbah, between Mehdia Beach and Kénitra, is one of the most famous monuments nationwide and could be turned into an important monument if the local authorities restored it.
There is an important port in this city; yet, its importance is decreasing gradually, for the government, along with the local authorities, has neglected it since the 1960s, when it was in its prime. Another very important factor that makes of Kénitra a potential touristic city is the Maamora Forest, which extends from Rabat to Meknes. We all know that forests give a specific charm and importance to towns or cities; people can do quite a few things therein: Sports, picnicking, hunting…More importantly, just ten kilometers [6 miles] or so from Kénitra is the Lake and natural reserve Sidi Boughaba. This lake is a magic place par excellence. Indeed, only these elements could turn kénitra into another touristic pearl like Marrakech, Agadir or Tangiers. However, it seems to be cursed, as it were.
The government overlooks this city. I do not think that I am smarter than the government; it must be aware of the importance of the aforementioned factors. If it is not, it would really be a catastrophe– people who do not pay attention to such important facts, would not push a whole nation forward.
Apart from corruption, I believe, the Moroccan government does not appreciate such treasures, not to mention that Moroccan officials, especially in the era of the late King Hassan II, preferred lining their pockets to working for the public good. Ironically, there is a very funny phenomenon that, indeed, requires a whole article, to say the least: Kénitra has been renowned for being the city of the insane. We the inhabitants of this city have seen many times trucks/buses coming from other big cities, such as Casablanca, Rabat, Fes…, dropping off people with chronic mental disorders and homeless people. This means that people who purify these cities from the homeless believe thatKenitra is a wasteland, so to speak. I have not been able to understand the rationale behind this “wisdom” that adds more problems to the capital of the west of Morocco.
It is high time the government and the local authorities took care of this city. If it were given the adequate importance, Kénitra would be another metropolis. Kénitra needs more facilities, such as public libraries, a theater, sports clubs and suchlike places. People who have already visited it know well that it has a particular charm. To tell the truth, I might be chauvinistic: Many Moroccan cities may be suffering from the same “wrong”, but being native of Kénitra, I cannot but talk about it. It is the most important city region-wide, so bolstering it would prop up the west of Morocco: People from Wazzane, Sidi Slimane, Souq Larbaa…already consider it the only touristic outlet region-wide—even a cultural one, for all of them have to come to here to do university studies at Ibn Tofail University.
The rate of criminality is rather high in Kénitra. It is a pity to see this city mire in all kinds of problems, and to top it all, to see criminals “add their own flavor” to it. The government must realize that purifying Kénitra from crime, investing in it, renovating its port and building facilities would create another metropolis the Moroccans would be proud of. In this respect, we should remind ourselves that when Adam and Eve were fired from heaven and came down to earth, they had nothing: The West has reached the peak of prosperity and is seeking to go forward, while we Moroccans—as well as the Arabs—are still grappling with bread. The bottom line is that we, people, who make of a place a pearl or a wasteland.
Koulila Brahim is a Moroccan teacher of English and essayist. He lives in Kénitra, Morocco. He obtained his M.A. (Studies in English language and culture) from Ibn Tofail University, Kénitra (Morocco) in 2010. He is interested in Morocco’s politics.
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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