Marrakech - Spending one year in Marrakech has dramatically changed my perspective on storytellers of the emblematic D’jemma Lefna square.
Marrakech – Spending one year in Marrakech has dramatically changed my perspective on storytellers of the emblematic D’jemma Lefna square.
Having many conversations with L’haj, my storytelling teacher, made me see life and living in Marrakech from a different perspective. I feel like that our conversation greatly influenced me on how to deeply look at Moroccan culture and see it from his eyes and not from our generation’s view, and especially about the hlayqiya (storytellers) in the square.
Before I met him, I used to think that all the hlaqiya (storytellers) in the square are just there to make money, and not because they want to preserve the cultural art of lhlqa (storytelling). I was wrong. It is true that they need to make some income out of their performances, but it is a family heritage for most of them after all. They found their parents work in the square and they followed their path.
I come across many women working in the square with their kids, giving ‘’Foukaha’’ (comedy performances). I use to think that these women use their kids to only make money and they don’t let them go to school. But I learned that not all the women in the square are the same. For example, Lala Aisha Benbaha is a hlaqyiya who inherited the art of ‘’Foukaha’’ from her family, and is trying to pass it to her kids today. Unfortunately, her older son doesn’t want to learn because he thinks that it is embarrassing to be a hlayqi (storyteller) and that his classmates would mock him. Lala Aisha has noticed that life is changing around her because of the influence of the media on Moroccan culture. She is afraid that this art is rapidly disappearing and she is trying desperately to keep it alive.
Having all of these prejudices made me feel shameful about how I used to think about the hlayqiya, and that might reflect many people’s thinking and opinions. Before, it seemed to me that the people are kind of ‘’selling culture’’, but after one year observing the culture I found out that I was wrong!
Storytelling helped me to think deeply about my culture and try to understand it more profoundly. At least now I will think that everyone has a story or a reason for doing what they are doing, and they are not randomly put there.
Photos by Thomas ladenburger
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission