These Moroccan personalities left us in 2020 after making invaluable contributions to the development and growth of Morocco.
2020 was a difficult year for the world, and Morocco was naturally no exception. In addition to the pandemic-induced distressing and chaotic months spent social distancing, mourning our losses, praying for our sick, or simply avoiding infection, Moroccans had to say goodbye to many of the country’s iconic personalities that will keep on living through the kingdom’s history and in the hearts of many Moroccans.
2020 was not, in many ways, the year we expected to live when we celebrated New Year’s eve and delightfully wondered what the new decade had in store for us and the people we love and care about. As it is — and will always be — exciting to start a new decade, we all looked forward to new opportunities, adventures, and good news.
However, COVID-19 caused the kind of global damage that not many countries or individuals can easily overcome. In Morocco, despite the government’s largely commendable efforts to combat the spread of the virus, different sectors experienced great losses, individuals lost their jobs due to lockdown, and many succumbed to the virus.
Among these COVID-19 losses were many of Morocco’s prominent figures, including political leaders, activists, athletes, artists, and a wide range of entertainers. Their common denominator was their invaluable contribution to Moroccan society.
These iconic personalities were an inspiration for many Moroccans who found solace, contentment, beauty, and pure elation in their hard work and dedication to making Morocco better in their respective fields. As this year to forget draws to an end, Morocco World News pays tribute to these unforgettable personalities who left us.
Aziz Saadallah was an actor, author, director, and producer of multiple plays, movies, and TV series. He left us this year aged 70.
The multi-talented Saadallah is most fondly remembered for his impactful acting, notably his iconic role in the famous sitcom “Lala Fatima,” which he played alongside his wife, Khadija Assad. The two are deservingly considered the most famous couple in Morocco.
The gigantic Moroccan actor played many other memorable roles in different Moroccan tv shows, such as “Caricature,” “Soura dahika,” and Mawakif. He also directed the Moroccan movie “Zaman El Irhab.”
Moroccan of all ages will always remember Saadallah for his riveting acting, for his contagious cheerfulness, for that irresistible he had of bringing joy and laughter to most Moroccan homes.
Touria Jabrane was a theater icon and a prominent activist who died at the age of 63 after a long fight against cancer.
After having graduated from Morocco’s National Conservatory, Touria Jabrane started her acting career with the theater troupe “Masrah Nass.” She went on to play several roles in Moroccan tv shows and cinema movies, including “Bamou” and “Noura”
The legendary actress played several roles in different genres including. But she mostly captured Moroccans’ hearts and minds with her skillful rendering of comic characters. Her effortless humor and joyful personality made her one of the most memorable figures of Moroccan comedy. The talented actress was also an ambitious activist who co-founded several human rights NGOs.
She was a member of the Moroccan government for two years. As a government official, she launched reading and music festivals and contributed to the improvement of relations between artists and local or national authorities.
Salaheddine El Ghomori
Salaheddine El Ghomori was the main anchor on Morocco’s 2M TV channel, and very few Moroccan journalists or media personalities can come close to the impact El Ghomori has had on both younger, Arab speaking Moroccans and the national conversation at large around a bunch of every-day topics.
Most Moroccans of the last two to three decades grew up watching 2M, where El Ghomori’s presentation of the news in Arabic drew thousands of viewers. The iconic Moroccan anchor died of a heart attack in Casablanca while being transported to a hospital. He was 52. His death was a shock to a vast number of Moroccans that admired him and regularly watched his news segment as well as his other forays into making sense of day-to-day life in Morocco.
After graduating from a journalism school in Russia, El Ghomari joined the Casablanca-based Ain Sebaa channel in 2000 and quickly became one of the leading faces of Arabic-language television In Morocco.
Amid the COVID-19pandemic of COVID-19, El Ghomori played a huge role in raising national awareness by informing the Moroccan. In a special COVID-19 coverage he presented on 2M in the early weeks and months of the pandemic in Morocco, El Ghomori encouraged Moroccans to stay safe and diligently comply with all the health measures necessary to curb the spread of the virus.
So impactful and popular was his 2M COVID-19 segment that he quickly earned the nickname “Monsieur Corona.” “I have an existential problem with this virus,” the journalist said in an interview in April.” He added, speaking of the heartwarming reception of his coverage of the virus: “We receive approximately 40,000 [thank you] messages and videos every day. So, yes, I have been delightfully surprised by the show’s success.”
Another iconic figure of Moroccan cinema and theater, Anouar Joundi was a director and screenwriter; he died in Rabat after a long battle with heart disease, according to his family.
Joundi’s father, the equally renowned but even more accomplished actor Mohamed Hassan Joundi, participated in great Moroccan and international movies, such as the engrossing biography of the Prophet Muhammad, “The Messager.” In 2017, the actor honored his deceased mother, Fatima Benmeziane, also a great Moroccan actress, by naming a theatrical troupe after her.
Growing up in an artistic family, Anouar Joundi began his art career at a very tender ag He played his first role in his father’s play, “Al Kadiya,” which touchingly explored the Palestinian cause in 1974. The late actor also starred in the Syrian series “Rabii Cordoba” in 2003. Moroccans, meanwhile, are most likely to remember, celebrate, or mourn Joudi for his glorious acting in the famous Moroccan sitcom “Dar Lwarata.”
After a long struggle with physical health complications from diabetes, the iconic Moroccan actor Abdeljabbar Louzir died on Wednesday, December 23.
Born in Marrakech, Louzir is known across Morocco and revered amongst his colleagues for his incredible acting skills, his irresistible sense of humor, as well as his dedication to his craft and career. His stellar reputation in the Moroccan cinema world won him many roles in important sitcoms, theatre productions, and movies.
Louzir first debuted in theater in 1948 with the Atlas Troupe for Popular Theatre. But for younger Moroccans, the actor will be best remembered for his role in the famous sitcom “Dar Lwarata.”
Mohamed Abarhoun was a Moroccan international football player who played for the Turkish club Caykur Rizespor. He died from stomach cancer on December 2 at the age of 31.
The football player was born in 1989 in Tetouan and started his professional career with the local club Moghreb Tetouan, where he played between 2010 and 2017. During his spell at the Tetouan-based club, he won two Botola Pro league titles and participated in the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup.
Playing as the defender, Abarhoun earned a contract with Portuguese first-tier club Moreirense FC in 2017 and stayed with the team for two seasons. From there, he joined Turkey’s Caykur Rizespor. The Moroccan player also won 7 international caps with the Moroccan national team.
During his 10-year professional career, Abarhoun participated in 216 games, scored 11 goals, and made four assists despite playing as a central defender.
Mahmoud El Idrissi
The famous and much-loved Moroccan singer Mahmoud El Idrissi died at the age of 70 due to a COVID-19 complication after undergoing intensive care in a private clinic in Casablanca.
Born in Rabat in 1948, Mahmoud El Idrisi was a common darling for Moroccans of different generations. Moroccans of starkly different ages and social backgrounds will surely continue to listen to large, spellbinding collections of songs for many generations to come. El Idrissi was not just a fine, accomplished singer. He was, and this cannot be emphasized enough, a great artist.
The artist‘s first singing experience dates back to 1964, according to Moroccan television channel 2M. El Idrissi produced his first songs in the Moroccan Arabic dialect (Darija) in 1970.
El Idrissi’s brilliantly successful career, it goes without saying, gifted contemporary Morocco’s national musical repertoire some of its greatest songs. His most memorable songs include, “Sa’a Sa’ida” (Happy Hour), “Sber Ya Qlbi” (Be Patient, My heart), and “Bgha Yfekerni F Li Fat” (He Wants to Remind Me of the Past).
Mahjoubi Aherdan was an iconic Moroccan political leader who died in Rabat at the age of 100 after a long battle with illness.
Born in Oulmes, a town in the Rabat-Sale-Kenitra region, Aherdan began his political career under the French protectorate and continued long after Morocco gained independence. He co-founded Morocco’s Popular Movement party (MP) in 1957 and served as the wali (governor) of Rabat after Morocco’s independence in 1956. He also entered the Moroccan government, most notably serving as minister of defense between 1961 and 1964 and a second time between 1966 and 1967.
His other ministerial posts included the ministry of agriculture and landform, the ministry of state for posts and telecommunications in 1977, as well as the ministry of cooperation (now foreign affairs ministry). He was dismissed from the MP, the party he co-founded, only to create a new party in 1991 that won the municipal elections in 1997.
A respected military officer, Aherdan was also a poet, prose writer, and strategic thinker. In addition to his many poems, his two-volume memoirs, and a collection of essays, he also left a notable mark on Morocco’s cultural scene as an intrepid promoter of Amazigh identity and an outspoken defender of Amazigh rights.
Driss Ouhab was a Moroccan journalist and broadcaster who died in Casablanca at the age of 56 after suffering severe health complications due to COVID-19.
The iconic Moroccan journalist graduated from the Higher Institute for Media and Communication (ISIC) in Rabat in 1988. Merely one year after graduating from journalism school, the young Ouhab earned himself a solid reputation in Morocco’s media landscape.
When Moroccan channel 2M launched in 1989, Ouhab was among the first to join a team of journalists and broadcasters who would go on to profoundly impact Morocco’s public conversation and media narrative.
Driss Ouahab presented the first live news bulletin on the 2M channel and worked as a broadcaster in the news department until 2001. During his journalism career, he had several interviews with leading Moroccan politicians, in addition to covering local and international news.
Driss Ouhab has also participated in the production of a number of 2M television shows, worked with the channel’s sports department, worked for Radio 2M, and finally served as 2M’s editor-in-chief for television reports.
Armed with his rich 2M experience, Ouahab also offered journalism training courses at private institutes.
Marcel Botbal was a Moroccan-Jewish singer and iconic musician who died from COVID-19 in Paris at the Bichat-Claude Bernard Hospital, where he was treated for one week after contracting the virus.
Born in 1945 in the imperial city of fez, Marcel Botbol came from a Jewish Moroccan family, his father was the Moroccan artist Jacob Abitbol and his brother Haim Botbol is also a musician.
The Moroccan-Jewish singer was famous for his immersive interpretations of Andalusian Gharnati music and popular Moroccan songs, such as “Ya Ghorbati” and “Ana Louliya”.
Mohamed El Ouafa
Morocco’s former Education Minister, El Ouafa was known across Morocco and beyond for his outstanding career in diplomacy.
He was also one of the leading members of Morocco’s Independence (Al Istiqlal) party. El Ouafa died on December 27, due to COVID-19 complications.
The highly respected politician was Education Minister and then Minister of Governance and Public Affairs during Abdelilah Benkirane’s premiership spell between 2011 and 2017, and the.
El Ouafa was born in Marrakech in 1948 and graduated with an economics degree from the Sorbonne University in Paris. He became an assistant professor at the Faculty of Law in Rabat in 1976 and was a member of the Moroccan House of Representatives from 1977 to 1997.
He had been a member of the executive committee of the Istiqlal Party since 1982, and also chaired the municipal council of Marrakech from 1983 to 1992.
The former minister was the Secretary-General of the Youth Istiqlal party from 1976 to 1984, president of the General Union of Moroccan Students. In addition, he represented Morocco as an ambassador to India, Iran, and Brazil.
Mohammed Tazi Cherti
Better known as “Massano,” the iconic Moroccan artist Mohammed Tazi Cherti died after a long illness in the city of Fez, at the age of 100.
“Al Baat”, the Fez-based association of Andalusian music, announced the news on Monday, December 28.
The late artist was considered one of the pioneers of Andalusian classical music in Morocco, an international music genre that is loved by many beyond Morocco and the larger Mediterranean region, the cultural and spiritual home of Andalusian civilization.
Tazi Cherti was part of the well-known Mohammed El-Mitri Orchestra, named after one of his sheikhs (religious or spiritual guide). The group has recorded many Mizanes of Andalusian music.
The talented artist was a specialist in Rabab’s instrument (ancestor of violin) and was a member of the El-Mitri orchestra — founded by Moulay Ahmed Loukil i– for eleven years. The late violinist also taught at the “Dar Adiyel” music conservatory in Fez.
Massamo hailed from a family known to be passionate about the art of “Samaa” and “Tarab al ala,” a Moroccan musical genre that forms the broader Andalusian classical music Tazi Cherti is most closely associated with.
Whether in politics, entertainment, sports, or arts, many Moroccan legends that contributed to Morocco’s development have left us in 2020, leaving behind them an indelible history and a timeless reminder of the human spirit’s unsuspected — but innate — potential to live for something beyond, greater than itself.
For their soothing voices, or their winning sense of humor, or their selflessness, or their touching and inspiring words, or simply their indefatigable resolution to always be better, to transcend their limits and inspire others, many of these iconic figures will forever live in the hearts of generations of Moroccans.