By Mohamed Amine Qasserras
By Mohamed Amine Qasserras
Morocco World News
Kenitra, May 11, 2012
While Arab countries are busy talking about political and economic reforms, equal attention should be given to culture as a society can never truly develop without implementing the necessary cultural changes. Many leading sociologists and cultural anthropologists argue that no culture is completely immune from shortcomings. I have decided to concentrate on some of Morocco’s cultural illnesses to demonstrate that development and growth are not always impeded by factors such as poverty or geography.
Language plays such a critical role in the empowerment of individuals and societies. Unfortunately, it could also be used as a weapon to demean and devalue people and render them a source of mockery to others. In Morocco, there is a long tradition of using nicknames to refer to those we love and despise. Within the family circle, many parents use loving terms such “ghzala” or “katkouta” to demonstrate affection for their children. Others resort to harmful name calling such as “h’mar” “kelb” “halouf” “Jeefa” to express anger and disappointment with their kids. At the societal level, language is often used to reinforce ugly and racist stereotypes about Morocco’s ethnic diversity. For instance, Amazighs are often called “Garbooze” while Arabs are demeaned by “Aroobi” For Moroccans to truly advance, they must cease calling one another by such insulting names!
Counterproductive criticism is also a cultural malaise that plagues Morocco. Rather than providing constructive feedback, many people are addicted to shallow criticism that demonstrates their pessimistic tendencies. As a result of endless criticism, creativity and innovation have become absent in Moroccan society. Moroccans seem to be satisfied with the “ways of old” and resist innovation lest they become the object of targeted ridicule and opposition. Moreover, most Moroccans see efforts at innovation and creativity as an individual’s attempt to improve his or her lot as opposed to promoting the general good. This ethos retards development, honest debate and leaves Morocco lagging behind other countries and cultures.
Positive communication should become the hallmark of a healthy culture. Moroccans should refrain from loud and aggressive tones and should listen patiently to those with whom they are interacting. The tendency to interrupt and disrespect different opinions should cease to be the modus operandi of daily dialogue. While proper communication should be applied no matter the choice of language, Moroccans should also be proud to speak their native tongue, whether Arabic or Tamazight. Sadly, Arabic and Tamazight are hardly spoken in some regions of Morocco and are completely missing from the business realm. French is considered a sign of prestige and respect in Morocco and continues to be the “language of the elite”.
Moroccans need to also overcome a culture of entitlement where people would prefer unemployment over performing certain jobs. For many Moroccan families, women have become the breadwinners and financial lifelines for their families while their spoiled men, although in good physical health, do not dare to look for a job. Sadly, when women seek work such as a waitress in a cafe, their employment is viewed as culturally inappropriate and belittled by the public.
Arabic society, including Morocco, is suffering from cultural trauma where an urgent remedy is needed to heal the symptoms that keep our people lagging behind their counterparts. Moroccan culture must do away with tendencies that limit creativity and innovation and should promote the collective and shun individuality. Morocco is a rich cultural tapestry with unlimited potential for greatness. Once we realize this fact, we will propel ourselves to an unprecedented level of economic, political and social development.
The views expressed in this article are the authors and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy