Friday, October 09, 2015

Improbable Meetings at Morocco's National Library

The long weekend of 9-10 and 11 October at the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco in Rabat will showcase unlikely encounters between: city dwellers and artists, musicians and artisans from the High Atlas Mountains

Ayt Bou Oulli

The meetings will be on several levels. For example, the Al Boughaz Association from Tangier has paired up with  an association of the valley of the Ayt Bou Oulli - the Anegbi Abachkou Association of Central High Atlas - and have worked together on a project and exhibition of Ibn Battuta frescoes recalling his "extraordinary journey in the valley the Ayt Bou Oulli ".  The artworks have  been developed by the children of the valley schools and children from schools in Tangier throughout the school year 2015-2016.

Ait Bou Oulli is a small town and rural commune in Azilal Province of the Tadla-Azilal region of Morocco. The commune had a total population of 9493.

Ibn Battuta's extraordinary journey in the valley the Ayt Bou Oulli 

In a similar fashion  carpet weavers from Ayt Bou Oulli will work alongside those from urban Rabat Salé and  group of singers and dancers the Ahwach from the valley of Ayt Bou Oulli will perform with a choir from Rabat.

The work of carpet weavers from the valley of Ayt Bou Oulli

There will also be poetry and demonstrations of weaving as well as debates  on sustainable development and, importantly, the language struggle between Arabic and  Darija.

The debate over language  should be of great interest. It takes place on Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 9.30 am. The tussle between Arabic and Darija is a hot topic, particularly in education, where for a long time a child's mother tongue - Amazigh or Darija - was ignored in favour of Arabic (Fosha).

Mother tongue is the language in which the mother brought her child to the symbolic, namely the power to name things and objects. It is now recognised that loss of the mother tongue has a very negative effect. It produces what is termed "language castration" which can result in diminished ability to access poetry, literature and storytelling.

Darija is the vernacular, spoken by the people. It is not written, so is undisciplined by a grammar and rules and thus free to evolve, adapt, and create new words, It is the living testimony to the creativity of the people.

Arabic Fosha (or classical Arabic) is primarily a written language with grammatical rules were set by the Persian Sibawaih in his book Al Kitab, which is indicative of the trend of "the defeated" to adopt and defend language of the "winners". It is the language controlled by the political elite, religious and economic classes, including the Ulama (literally "those who know"). This is the quintessential scholarly language, language of literature, poetry, diplomatic and administrative writings.

The full programme of the exhibitions and debates can be downloaded HERE

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