Ali Bachar, who used the stage name Kechbal, died Thursday morning following a long illness, according to his family.
In 1950, Kechbal and his nephew Mohammed Bachar, who called himself Zeroual, formed the famous comedy duo “Kechbal and Zeroual.”
Kechbal and Zeroual were both born in 1932 and worked as farmers in Settat, 80 kilometers south of Casablanca, where Zeroual is currently living.
The endearing duo were known to the public since the early 1950s but became especially popular in the 1970s and 1980s. They guest-starred in several comedy and music programs that were broadcast on Moroccan television every Saturday night.
The two comedians began their artistic career in “halqa” (a circle theatre or street show) in the big souks (markets) of the Chaouia region in central Morocco. They quickly achieved great success, especially in wedding ceremonies in Settat. Both comedians began to feature in public shows across Morocco.
In the 1970s, Kechbal and Zeroual started recording cassettes of their songs and shows in the Ain Chok studios in Casablanca.
Kechbal and Zeroual combined gags with music in their shows. Kechbal played the “loutar,” a traditional Moroccan instrument and sang and chanted comedy songs about everyday social issues. Zeroual played the “bendir” (a wooden-framed drum), another famous Moroccan traditional instrument used mostly by traditional music bands.
According to Aujourd’hui le Maroc, Kechbal was married twice and had a total of 10 children, the youngest of whom is only 13. He had 7 children with his first wife. After her death, he married again and had three more children.
“My children give me the joy of living. I forget everything when I’m with my little Selma,” Kechbal told Aujourd’hui le Maroc in 2007.
When asked about their future, Kechbal said, “The most important thing is that you are satisfied with what you have. Our children have built their lives, they always come to see us and they are healthy.”
“What more could anyone want?” he added.
In 2013, the Moroccan Association for the Protection of Heritage paid tribute to the comedy duo in its national loutar festival.
“Last year, we were eager to honor Kechbal but he was not able to overcome his illness. The next edition of the Loutar Festival will be in honor of Kechbal,” Abdallah Chakhs, president of the association told Telquel on Thursday. The association organizes the “Loutar Festival: Rhythms of Morocco” in Settat.
Although Kechbal and Zeroual were once considered prominent figures inside and outside Morocco, Chakhs said, they have not been given the recognition they deserve in their last days.