The Moroccan touch

I have been thinking lately about my "Moroccanness" , yes thats a word!
As a young, 2nd generation immigrant in Europe thinking about your "somethingness" (thats a word as well) is quite normal.

I started evaluating my Moroccanness. Do I still speak Moroccan/Darija properly? Do I still know how to make briouat and am I still able to gossip Maroqui when I meet up with fellow distorted
I know that these points above aren't exactly a good basis for the evaluation. But there were other points as well. Like guilt/shame etc. Let's say that there are a lot of points. OK?

So I decided to meet up with some fellow distorted Moroccans in Maghrebtown (Notting Hill Road and surroundings, Moroccans are quite upmarket here in London hehe)
I, or we, came to the shocking conclusion that my level of Moroccanness plummeted in recent years.

I was thinking that I can hardly call myself Moroccan anymore. I dont know how to make briouat anymore, my Darija is lousier than that of a baby and gossip Maroqui irritates me (gossip maricón is still ok)
Besides that I just don't feel really Moroccan.
I havent been to Morocco for 6 years, I shunned it for its ignorance and other reasons.
My reckless idealism decided to play tricks on me and telling me that I should shun Morocco for its backward culture and politics. So I did.
Let me clarify the "backward culture" stance. I regard every culture or state as backward when religion and modern conservatism are playing a major role.
And sadly in Morocco, modern conservatism is on the rise (from hear-say that is)

And besides that, I lived in the Netherlands (NL) until a while ago. And I never saw any resemblance between my family and that of most other Moroccans in NL.
Now I have to say, and this may sound quite snobby, that my family's position both in Europe and in Morocco isn't like that of most immigrant-families. Especially my mothers side. We're quite westernized if I may say so.
My mother always told us that most Moroccans in NL are "so3ian" and "kleb" (dogs). My family in Morocco used to say the same thing about Moroccans in Morocco.
I know very bad, but I can't hardly change their position on it.
My fathers side of the family are from the Rif mountains, so I wont elaborate on that. Thats kind of pretty clear.

So the "Westernized" family combined with me being even more "Westernized" has led to a failing Moroccan identity.
Now most of the time I dont have any problems with that. I always doubted the validity of a national identity.
I mean we all need passports and so on, but it is the feeling that I always questioned.
I regard it as dangerous and as a prelude to ignorance.

I'm all pro global and globalized culture. But we all know that the globalized culture is failing somehow. We're still global but regional global. We all, eventually, fall back to "our" region.
In my case that would be both Morocco and the Netherlands, like all other second generation immigrants.
But as you kind of guessed, it would be like that but it isn't.
In my case its nothing. I'm regionalless (thats a real word as well and thats a fact!)
Another sign that my "Moroccanness" is failing.

And you know what? I'm actually proud of it. It takes alot of practice and time to dispose yourself of the cultural shackles.
Its just that you feel naked afterwards, but I don't have problems with feeling naked.


  1. eatbees said...
    I like what you have to say here. You may know that Moroccans even in Morocco are concerned about "losing their identity" to the West. For example see this post "Identité Perdue" by my friend Yahia where I made some comments:

    I've told them this is part of living in the modern world:

    So my conclusion is, you should be proud of losing your identity so you can better define yourself. I'm glad to see you reached the same conclusion!

    This is the first time I've visited your blog. I like it!
    BO18 said...
    Thanks for your comment and the interesting links!

    But as you said, losing ones identity is indeed something to be proud of.

    And welcome!
    Samir said...
    I loved this post. I've posted a small tribute on The View from Fez.
    taamarbuuta said...
    I really liked this post. I have a lot of friends and students who want more than anything to leave Morocco behind and re-identify themselves, while others still feel a tug toward Morocco despite the fact that they know their lives would be better elsewhere. Identity is not an easy thing to grapple with (I, on the other hand, have been fighting off my American identity for so long, but as Morocco - where I live - is not where I want to fall into, I too am "regionalless").

    My spellcheck doesn't pick up that word, by the way.

    Mind if I link to you?
    BO18 said...
    @ Samir.

    Thanks, I really appreciate it!

    @ Taamarbuuta

    No I dont mind. Go ahead ;)
    I had the idea once that the American identity, was the mother of all identities.
    But then again, its just one of the countless identities we can pick from.
    rachid said...
    Most of all the comments were positive but I am going to dare to be different. Identity is not something you acquire or google for that matter. It is who you are. I am a Moroccan by birth and lived in the US almost all my life. I love Morocco. I love all things that the west hates about it and I hate all the tings that the west loves about it. I like to call myself a Moroccan American. I do visit Morocco everychance I got. If the choice is to pick between a two weeks in Disney world or the dirty street of casablanca I dont hesitate to pick Morocco. I know for sure I will be dealing with real people in Morocco and not somebody behind a costume. Part of the problem is Moroccan are not raised to be proud of who they are ( your mom for instance was not much of a help). No matter how you try to hide your moroccaness it will reveal itself somehow. For the sisters they can dye their hair blond and for the brothers they can dress up like they live in Brooklyn but your olive skin, your accent, your gestures, your love of spicy food will reveal your true identity. Moroccans need to learn from previous generations of italians and irish imigrants. You can be a proud dutch with Moroccan heritage.
    BO18 said...
    Hi Rachid!

    First of all, thank you for your comments.

    Lets get to the point now.
    I understand your point of view because I have heard it a couple of times before.
    I think that we differ in our opinion about identity and if you can acquire it yourself
    You say that an identity cant be acquired. I'm of the opinion that our identity is something we created ourselves.
    I see it as a process whereby an individual gains and looses interests, cultural habits and opinions. Through these 3 main components we acquire our own identity.
    I see it as something dynamic.
    We are constantly targeted by outside influences and we decide if those influences will have an actual, permanent impact on our lifes.

    You said that Moroccans are not raised to be proud of themselves. I dont agree with you on that one.
    I cant speak for Moroccans in Morocco, since I wasnt raised there.
    But in the Netherlands, Moroccans were raised with the idea that Morocco, Moroccannes and Islam are the only things we should be proud of and the only things we should hold on to.
    This attitude has led to a lot of problems with Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. We're too proud.
    My mother never told me to not be proud of "our" culture or Morocco.
    We were brought up with the idea that óther Moroccans are too proud, self-indulged and backward to even understand what their culture is about.

    I'm not trying to hide my moroccanness. It just disappears because of multiple factors that have influenced my life.

    But I do understand that some Moroccans prefer to hide it and that there are also Moroccan immigrants who hold on to their Moroccan heritage "succesfully".
    But in my case, and I think with a lot of other Moroccans as well, that just didnt happen.
    eatbees said...
    Just one more thing -- I think Americanness (yes that's a word) is the mother of all "nonidentities" not all "identities" -- the American identity is its rootlessness and its constant reinvention, its lack of being fixed in the past! -- also a certain worship of "health" and "youth" -- and I agree it's just one more identity in the end :)
    myrtus said...

    BO: But as you said, losing ones identity is indeed something to be proud of.

    Taamarbuuta: Identity is not an easy thing to grapple with

    BO: I had the idea once that the American identity, was the mother of all identities.
    But then again, its just one of the countless identities we can pick from.

    Rachid: No matter how you try to hide your moroccaness it will reveal itself somehow.

    BO: But in the Netherlands, Moroccans were raised with the idea that Morocco, Moroccannes and Islam are the only things we should be proud of and the only things we should hold on to.
    This attitude has led to a lot of problems with Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands. We're too proud.

    Just looking at this little sampling of opinions on identity gives me the impression that "identity" is indeed something that each and everyone of us acquires individually. One's identity is not something we choose, it's something that takes shape based on our own individual experiences throughout our lives. I believe that one's identity is something that ultimately takes a prominent shape during our formative years as teenagers, when a sense of belonging plays an important part and is the single-most important decisive factor on what we'll make of it in the end. It's all based on our needs and desires to have a sense of security, something we can all fall back on when and if we ever feel lost. Some of us have to go through it alone and some of us can count on others, but in the end, it's our own individual experiences that we learn from.

    And BO, I personally think that the problems with Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands has a lot to do with the fact the ones in charge of preserving the Moroccan identity(the parents) are the predominantly illiterate Berber expatriates who are not equipped to deliver the message from a positively informed stand point. A Moroccan Berber is still required to communicate his identity from and Arab/Muslim point of view to express his Moroccanness...something Berbers don't master to begin with, since they never had to think about or define their Moroccanness till the problems with their kids began to arise.
    taamarbuuta said...
    @ Rachid:

    I understand what you mean about Moroccans not raised to be proud of their heritage. It's yet another aspect of "bled schizo;" Moroccans are often so proud of Islam, of the food, the monuments, anything timeless. But when it comes to things like the moussems and Friday couscous and wearing a djellaba - it's old fashioned to them. They see how other cultures have kicked off their "unecesssary" traditions and wish to do the same.

    Mind you, I'm speaking about my friends, the majority of whom are 19-25 year old Middle Atlas Moroccans who grew up in that area I can't speak about foreign-raised Moroccans or even Marrakshis!

    My two cents.

    Re: the American identity, well, I don't believe it's a non-identity, but it's certainly not a unified one. I think that at the core of the American identity is knowledge of the ability to reinvent oneself - that's where the stubborn independence comes from, the partisan-ness, that's why American women have fought so hard and why American men have fought back, etc etc.

    It's not my favorite, but I also know that were I say, a Moroccan woman, I probably wouldn't be living alone in another country doing whatever the hell I want and squandering away my mid-20s freelance writing and teaching.
    arayzim said...
    your idea about identity is erroneous and void of meaning. maybe you decided to become a hollow man without any cultural nor linguistic reference since your family told you that the moroccans in the netherlands are so3yan (beggars) shows the class to which ur family belonggs to. and we can understand that it's your family's point of view concerning identity. but what about u man? I agree with you that we should be a universal man which does not mean that we give up what our ancestors transmitted to us but i see that it s not ur case because ur family wanted to westernize you. i havr nothing against the west. what i see is that you re not regionalless as you mentioned but alienated. you know and i know that we can't escape our origin even if we want so. because the westners never adress you as a universal man but as an alien. every culture is a wealth of the human being and there is no culture better than the other but economies that boost these cultures to become dominant or good luck in overcoming the stereotypes because somewhere in europe i try but i find it more and more difficult. so if you have a magic potion i will be thankful for some of it.
    Myrtus said...
    arayzim, ewa saaafi! Your whole statement here sounds like not only you're passing judgement on BO, but you're also sentencing him to alienation. If anything, it is you who sounds sound angry and resentful. The way I see it, BO is merely trying to reach out in order to understand a very important aspect of his existence: Identity. He never claimed to have THE answer, if anything, he's being honest in stating that he's getting confused by the mixed messages he gets from both his family and the societies he feel kinship to.

    Just looking at the variety of statements made here by other commenters should be an indication how everyone thinks differently on the issue. I'm glad you believe in magic though, Arayzim (;....good luck with finding a magic answer dear, and perhaps I can even offer you a lead. Keyword: KINSHIP. Look no further than that which you feel kinship to in order to find the answers to your identity. Hey I just came up with that because you inspired me....thankies. :D
    xoussef said...
    well, you cant get rid of your "Moroccanness". Moroccans think that they are arabs and muslims and that this is "Moroccanness", but they forget, maybe intentionally, that they are not real arabs (when the khaliji people dont forget), that the majority can't understand perfectly what said in aljazeera, that their are moroccans who are not sunni, chi'a, christians, jews, agnostic, atheists, or muslims who don't care of religion. not all moroccans speak darija, not all speak an amazigh dialect, some speak only french, or deuch, and they still moroccans. we need to destroy that arab-muslim-streight mith. "Moroccanness" is values, culture, gestures of every day that makes you identify a moroccan amongst millions.
    Bo18, you are moroccan and you cant deny it, just look at your blog!!
    to cut your rooths is as difficult, as dolorous, as abnormal as to amputate your own arm.
    you do not fit in the stereotype of arab-sunni malekite muslim-straight-conservative, but instead of submitting to this, you have to cerate a new standard because your "difference".
    i think, but i may be mistaken, that you got rid not of your Moroccanness, but of guilt of being not as moroccan you should/want/expect/or expected to be, according to the stereotype, by denial. you can find the real morocco part in you.
    ps: sorry of my weak english.
    BO18 said...
    You're right that I can't deny that I'm moroccan.
    But I can change my identity from 100% Moroccan to something like 50% or less.
    And to be honest, I didn't change it myself but it grew to be like that. Something what happens to all immigrants children on some point.

    I think that your description of the stereotype "arab-sunni malekite muslim-straight-conservative" corresponds with what I call my cultural shackles that I disposed.

    ps. Your english is fine ;)
    xoussef said...
    you know the dilemma of the precise nature of light? it simultaneously exhibits properties of both waves and particles, wich is something you can't realy understand, but it exist.
    i think identity shows the same phenomenon. to admit that someone may be 10% indian, 15% japanese and the rest philipino is probematic because then we give the opportunity to extremists to set a hierarchy. what to say to Lepen for exemple if he says to a franco-moroccan: so you consider your self 50% french, but me, i am 100% french, so i deserve more rights than you. and he will be somehow right.
    so why not to say: "i am 100% moroccan and 100% dutch, just like light is waves and particles. if you think this is impossible, try first to explain the precise nature of light to me"
    xoussef said...
    i said "wich is something you can't realy understand" but i meant "wich is something ONE can't really understand"... sorry
    Anonymous said...
    hi. this is totally off the subject but i have a son by a moroccan man. how do you say "daddy i need you in my life. i miss you" in darija? my e-mail is thanks.

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