Friday, July 24, 2015

Festival of Amazigh Culture Opens in Fez ~ Photo Essay

The 11th Fes Festival of Amazigh Culture opened today and runs until Sunday. There are a series of discussions each day as part of the international forum with the theme "Alliance of cultures and religions for peace" Each evening sees major concerts at Bab el Makina and free concerts at Place Florence

The opening session at the Palais des Congres was well attended, with a guest list that included academics, politicians and most of the Fez A-list celebrities. There was also a large number of members of the general public.

The opening also included a tributde to Amazigh millitant, Moha Lyoussi and a Keynote Speech : “Morocco and USA: Interaction of Culture and Religion for Peace” delivered by Keith Martin (Honorary Consul of the Kingdom of Morocco in the USA).

Tribute also needs to be paid to the team of workers who brought this festival to fruition and in particular the tireless efforts of Moha Ennaji (pictured above) and Fatima Sadiqi (pictured below) from the Institute for Languages and Cultures, Fès

The evening concert at Bab Makina was packed to capacity and the audience treated to a mixed program of Moroccan, Latin Fusion and Flamenco all leading up to the Diva Latifa Raafat.

The Ahidous Tizwit (literally Brotherhood of the Bees) is a well known Amazigh group from Kalaat Mgounza in the Middle Atlas. Their dance is as expressive as their chants and the interaction between the men and the women is a great example of living folklore.

The Spanish group Lenacay gave an up-tempo set that included a good dose of fusion from Jazz to rumba rhythms and some high energy vocals. However, the crowd saved its warmest appreciation for the flamenco dancer.

Yet, despite the energy, Lenacay failed to ignite the crowd who, despite numerous requests for them to get up and dance, remained sedately seated. It became clear that the large audience had taken their seats and were waiting for the final act.

Lenacay's overly long set ended at around twenty minutes to midnight. But not a single person had left the venue. The Diva was coming and they were happy to wait.

Twa7achtek Bezaf!  (I miss you a lot!) - the crowd yelled 

Latifa Raafat did not disappoint. From the first note she sung, Latifa had the audience in her thrall and that was where they remained for the entire concert.

The title of her 2006 song, Twa7achtek Bezaf (I miss you a lot), written by Algerian, Mohamed Lamine, was like a calling card and as she came to the stage it was obvious that the missing was on both sides of the footlights.

Unlike the set by Lenacay, this audience needed no second invitation to dance. Latifa's third song was Twa7achtek Bizef and the all it took was a few notes and the audience were on their feet and danced through to the end of the concert well after one in the morning.

Born in 1965 in Kénitra,  Latyifa Raafat first came to the Moroccan music lovers attention in the 1980s.

In 1982 she recorded her first song Mawal Al Hob . Other well known songs (meaning everyone knows all the lyrics) include Khouyi,   Moghyara, Donia,  Al Hamdo Li Llah, and Ana fi Arek Ya Yama.

Tomorrow night the huge drawcard is Mustapha Oumguil, and tonight, as people were wending their way home, he was the name on everybody's lips.

The full program and concert details are here: Amazigh Festival

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