By Jamal Saidi
By Jamal Saidi
Morocco World News
Casablanca, June 19, 2012
African students in Morocco may face difficult times due to numerous factors, from cultural differences to financial matters to racism. The situation may become so difficult as to push the student to wish from the bottom of his or her heart to “go back to his or her country.”
For decades, Morocco has been a favorite destination for Africans wishing to continue their studies. There are more than 11,000 African students in the country. They came from various countries. There are numerous reasons upon which the students have based their choice. The standard of living remains appropriate in comparison with western countries. The kingdom offers scholarships, and the application process to obtain a visa is smooth and accessible for almost anyone who wants to study in Morocco. Rabat is probably aiming at gaining support for the Sahara issue, especially that a significant number of African countries still recognize the so-called “Sahara Republic.”
However, life is not always rosy. During their stay, African students may face a broad range of challenges. They have to adapt to new cultural norms, obviously very different from those to which they were accustomed. Though the majority of them do speak French, communication issues may raise at anytime. After all, French is but a foreign language in the country. In addition, students sometimes run short of money. Worse, they can be subject to racism due to their skin color.
Danito is a Cameroonian student who has lived for four years in Morocco. She obtained her B.A. and opted for Master studies. Her experience mirrors to a great extent what a typical African student confronts.
In her first year, she admitted to living what she termed as “cultural shock” due to the cultural differences between Cameroon and the host country. In Morocco, people are sharing. For example, you can still visit a friend during lunch time. In my country, it would be inappropriate.
She also noticed the cheek kissing as a form of greeting between two men, which would be regarded as unusual in her country.
Additionally, she pointed out that this year was difficult for many African students. The scholarship, which Morocco used to offer, through AMCI, was suddenly stopped due to insufficient funds.
Danito ended the conversation with a sad incident. Like many Africans, Danito confronted an act of racism. While walking in the street, a boy of nine years old threw stones at her and shouted “Aziya”, the word used to insult blacks. She felt humiliated and the first thing she badly wanted to do was to go back to her country. The boy would not behave in such a way without having a preconceived racist attitude towards Africans.
With this in mind, both the state and civil society are invited to work together in order to make the African students stay in Morocco as comfortably as possible. After all, Morocco is known for its hospitability.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti