Rabat - In response to a question of a journalist about the personality of the crown prince Sidi Mohammed, the late King Hassan II retorted: "He is he and I is me" and he was, indeed, fully right.
Rabat – In response to a question of a journalist about the personality of the crown prince Sidi Mohammed, the late King Hassan II retorted: “He is he and I is me” and he was, indeed, fully right.
Hassan II was a good speaker, eloquent, smooth talker but loved to stay at home. On the other hand, Mohammed VI is quiet and withdrawn (taciturn), measured and a very mobile person. As a matter of fact, he is on the move all the time, for the laying down of a foundation stone or the inauguration of a project to which site he will even come back, sometimes unexpectedly, to control and evaluate the progress of the assigned work.
A sovereign on his steel horse
At the beginning of his reign, his idyllic field of activity was Morocco, without any preference for a specific region. He began with the regions that his father had underprivileged, for political reasons, such as Al-Hoceima, Tanger and Tetouan. After Morocco, Africa, in its immensity, became his field of predilection, where he continues, tirelessly, to project economic and technical expertise of his country successfully today.
In his constant mobility, Mohammed VI is rather like his great grandfather Moulay Hassan I, who reigned from 1873 to 1894, governing narrow-minded, rebellious and difficult Morocco. This Morocco in question included two big distinct regions: bled al-makhzen, under the control of the central government and bled as-siba, the country of the Amazigh/Berber people in total dissent, which fully recognized the religious power of the sultan “Commander of the Faithful,” amir al-mu’minin, but not his temporal power, hence their foursquare refusal to pay him due taxes. Hassan I, to diplomatically diffuse this refusal, resorted to religious taxes within the framework of zakat.
Hassan I died on his horse in 1894, during one of his multiple field trips, and his death was kept secret by his chamberlain, hajib, as tradition dictates, until the whole expedition got back to the capital city of Fez.
The horse of Mohammed VI, on the other hand, is pure steel; it is an old Boeing 747 of Royal Air Maroc, which serves as means of locomotion, place of residence and work office, when abroad. After Francophone Africa, the trader king successfully focused on the eastern part of the black continent; raising the contempt of a jealous official Algeria towards this young and dynamic monarch, who never stops moving, while the poor Algerian President Bouteflika is nailed to a wheelchair and is even unable to hold a few minutes discussion given his poor health.
Mohammed VI is not like the sovereigns of the world, who spend their time in their palaces gathering flowers and organizing worldly celebrations. Mohammed VI is a good businessman, who successfully created Morocco Inc. and duly exports Moroccan’s know-how marvellously well in: telecom, banking, insurance, mining, electricity and water, agriculture, irrigation, renewable energies, management, etc. and sets up win-win projects with Moroccan capital all over Africa. In short, a good example of south-south cooperation, which can be taught in the universities of the world, to the satisfaction of development teachers and designers of viable models of good economic governance.
Mohammed VI, is masterfully demonstrating to all self-respecting Africans that one can basically take care of oneself and set up a model of south-south development not financially and politically costly and, of course, very beneficial for everyone.
Mohammed VI: the itinerant African caliph
During his recent visit to Madagascar, Mohammed VI, who normally speaks very little with the press, gave an interview to the Madagascan media in which he solemnly declared:
“Morocco and Africa are one. To separate them would be an uprooting, an error”
and further affirmed his respect for the African people:
“Every visit to Africa is an opportunity for me to reconnect with the African populations that I admire and respect”
while stressing his wish for sharing and caring:
“Morocco has projects in various African countries. We give and share, without arrogance, or undertones of dishonesty and colonization”
This feeling is, undeniably, reciprocal because for many African Muslims the Moroccan sovereign is their “Commander of the Faithful,” amir al-mu’minin, and this does not date from yesterday but a reality that began with the Amazigh dynasties of the Almoravids (1040-1147) and the Almohads (1121-1269), who introduced Islam into Africa, not by the means of the sword but through beneficial trade.
In fact, Moroccan commercial caravans have, from the 12th to the 18th century, criss-crossed southern Moroccan regions and sub-Saharan Africa to exchange multiple goods and products. Timbuktu was one of the high and prominent places of this exchange. With these caravans, ulemas traveled everywhere in West Africa and built Koranic schools where they taught the Koran and the Hadith to the local population. Over time, the inhabitants of this part of Africa have adopted the Moroccan written form of the Arabic language, al-khatt al-maghribi, which they used to write in Ajami their community languages ??such as: Soninké, Pulaar, Fulfudé, etc. and this tradition is still alive today in the most beautiful fashion ever.
In the 18th century, a great Algerian Sufi alem, Sidi Ahmed at-Tijani (1735-1815,) came to settle down in Morocco, where he opened a religious lodge, zaouia, in Fez to teach the precepts of a moderate and tolerant open Islam wasatiyya. This religious center, still active today, is called Zaouia Tijaniyya. His teachings soon spread to West Africa and his followers, who took the name of Tidjanes, opened African zaouias, which, soon, became major religious centers. Today, for millions of Tidjanes in Africa, a visit of Zaouia Tijaniyya in Fez is considered as a “small pilgrimage” of great spiritual importance and value.
The Moroccan Sherifian influence in West Africa extended even to the political system. Indeed, in the north of Nigeria, we still find sultans recognized by the legal authorities, who, certainly play only an honorary role but enjoy much respect and esteem from the local population. These sultans go out in procession, on horseback, for Friday prayers followed by their subjects, one of which bearing the sultanesque parasol, that is the emblem of power, both religious and temporal, as is the case still in Morocco today.
African Economic Order
Mohammed VI, this jet-set sovereign of Africa, in his many visits to the black continent, works tirelessly for the establishment of an African economic order, where the Africans, take control and care of themselves, with much respect and dignity.
This dream is not an illusion, but a wish dear to all Africans, rulers and governed, who all want the best for this continent that has the necessary resources and will and only needs courageous political decisions for inter-African development projects clear of any harmful and paralyzing ideology.
Today, unfortunately, many Africans are political refugees, looking for an alternative homeland or economic immigrants in search of work and human dignity that goes with it elsewhere.
Hopefully, African leaders will follow Mohammed VI’s example, in the near future, and put a purely African economic order in place for the benefit of all Africans, without any exception. Amen.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.
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