By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, May 25, 2012
Patience is regrettably the opiate of Moroccans. When I address Moroccans, I automatically mean the fairly poor masses who make up the majority of them. We Moroccans never breathe a deep sigh of relief until we prescribe patience to one another, until we preach on the so-called importance of patience and until we are more convinced than ever before that patience really pays off in the end. Unaware, we resort to patience as an opiate to release us from desperation even if we are more than certain that it will get us nowhere but to becoming notorious for being among the least happy peoples on earth.
I still vividly remember when I used to live in Zagora and one day the faucet water turned brownish and therefore no longer potable. The color of water didn’t change back for four days. The city’s residents didn’t utter any complaints to the province and didn’t report the issue to the authorities. Instead, they kept their lips sealed and bought mineral water during the four days.
The only explanation for this stoical reaction is that Moroccans are already used to patience and optimistically told each other that water would soon regain its normal color. It never mattered to these Moroccans at a time when there are preachers in the mosque who sometimes preach that we Moroccans had better show patience rather than overreact.
Wherever he goes, like his predecessors, Abdelilah Benkirane, head of the government, also prescribes patience to the unemployed and to the downtrodden masses. Prior to becoming head of the government, he advised Moroccan protesters to stop taking the street so frequently after the king had delivered his Ninth of March speech, promising immediate reforms. Benkirane must however have forgotten that the value of patience is new to Moroccans in that they have been patient since Independence Day.
Moroccans have been given empty promises that usually end up being broken. It is by these false promises that they have been made patient. But, what have Moroccans been patient for? Of course, nothing. For Moroccans, patience has set them to merely survive and to dream dreams they are sure they will never materialize. Still, they are patient as though nothing were amiss. Masochistically, they prefer to be patient than to react, to wait than to take action, and to sleep dreaming than to live their reality grinning.
“Just be patient, and everything is going to be alright!” a Moroccan mother usually tells her unemployed M.A. holder. It is a good thing to prescribe patience, but it must never be to the extent of using it as an opiate to drown our sorrows for a very short time. “Patience is a virtue. None shows it but the great,” preaches a Sheikh to the Moroccan congregation. What the Sheikh fails to mention is that our patience is unique. We are patient about something even if we are aware that it is out of our reach.
We Moroccans are patient to procure our rights even though our youth is well over without realizing them. We are still patient no matter how much we are tortured, how much we are socially oppressed and marginalized, how much we have been impoverished and how much we are stigmatized, inferiorized and discriminated against. Is that the patience about which our Sheikh delivered a boring speech verbatim? Now, I understand why patience is the opiate of Moroccans.
As a Moroccan, wherever you go, and whatever position you hold, you must have fallen prey to this opiate, patience. This opiate which Moroccans aren’t fully aware of stagnates tenacity, kills spirits, and despairs Moroccan aspirants who usually die undiscovered and rendered into an inveterate masochist. One can take living examples. Think, for instance, of trainees at Moroccan training centers who have grown tired of patience with empty promises to see released the ignominiously meager 547-DH grant at the appointed time. Think of pregnant women who give birth on the threshold of a hospital for the simple reason that she has been prescribed with patience rather than medicine, with waiting with bated breath rather than operating and taking enough time rather than taking action hurriedly. Patience is Moroccans’ opiate, for they do nothing when their accumulated patience doesn’t happen to pay off.
One might visit the entrance to the courts of appeal, to municipalities, to administrative offices, to hospitals and to other state buildings and find benches full to the brim. They all indulge in silence. Some others can’t help but fall fast asleep. Others stare blankly into the ceiling Some walk along the corridors, waiting for their turn. What they all have in common is patience, whether forced or chosen. But, the real mystery is that they masochistically enjoy their patience.
Many Moroccan grandmothers bear stories of patience when they raised their children in mountainous areas without uttering any complaints. Amazigh grandmothers, including mine, didn’t speak a word of Arabic in her lifetime. Still, they showed patience about their alienated lives. They immensely enjoyed that, perhaps because they had nothing to do about it. Moroccan mothers too are patient even though they see their children dropping out of school, landing low-paid jobs, and falling prey to the pervasive social ills tearing apart Morocco. Yet, our mothers’ eyes remain cheerful because of frequently consuming the opiate of patience and recommending it to their dejected-looking youth of today.
We Moroccans are fond of an opiate called patience. We prescribe it even if we know that it will get us nowhere. We cherish this opiate still. Unfortunately, it is a bad habit, but Moroccans can’t give it up for the time being. This bad habit will take much longer to break. Like smoking, patience is hard to give up. Here, I think it will be a good idea to put forward the same idea of Thomas Hardy when he described a bad habit as something that needs to be coaxed downstairs until gotten rid of. Patience, the opiate of Moroccans, needs to be coaxed downstairs, step by step, until it is gotten rid, of out of the door, instead of out of the upstairs window.