By Halima El Joundi
By Halima El Joundi
Rabat – Next Thursday, the 21st of May, the world will celebrate the Day for Cultural Diversity, Dialogue, and Development. Mark your calendars! Or don’t, there will probably be no celebrations at all here in Morocco.
But if there are any – and that’s only wishful thinking – It is going to be either a conference discussing whether elementary schooling should be in Darija – as if it was in Classical Arabic in the first place – a Talk Show about the Moroccan Identity Crisis, and who came first: the Egg or the Chicken. And, with any luck, a televised musical soirée to wash away our differences through some hard culturally diversified partying.
I truly have nothing against partying or Darija or the Chicken, but sometimes it is simply frustrating how reductive we can be with such great concepts, skillfully stripping away any significance and killing their potential, by simply looking at things the wrong way. And boy, aren’t we good at it?
One of the earliest mottos of the United States dates back to the 18th century, and is still present today on its Seal. It is the phrase: “E pluribus unum”, which could be translated from Latin as “Out of many, comes one”.
The very existence of this One Identity is dependent upon the acknowledgment of and thrives on all the other distinct, dissimilar, and sometimes even opposing identities. Like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, they don’t look alike, but they must fit together to complete the picture: the more singular the pieces are, the more challenging the game is, but the more spectacular the results can be.
No wonder some of the most innovative nations in the world are those known to be culturally diverse. They have what they call in business a Diversity Advantage.
In Morocco we are culturally diverse. This is a fact. Just look at the food, the music, the clothing, the architecture, and nearly every single aspect of what makes home, home as we know it. But stating facts won’t help us. We need to acknowledge, respect, and believe in diversity’s potential for positive change, and most importantly, we need to act on it.
Keeping the fire of ethnic rivalry burning and holding grudges against languages, regions, cities, and neighborhoods won’t help, let alone the fact that it is ignorant and pathetic.
Above all, know that being culturally diverse is not a matter of the past. It is unfolding before our eyes with the arrival of the newcomers from the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa, who, either compulsively or electively, temporarily or permanently, have decided to make Morocco their home. Like it or not, they are new pieces in the puzzle.
So, next time a nasty comment comes to you, just bite your tongue and remind yourself: E pluribus unum!
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