Friday, November 03, 2017

Photo Essay - The Tradesmen of Tangier

Notes from Tradesmen in Tangier - a photo essay by Mohamed Zefzaf

Here are glimpses of tradesmen in Tangier, Morocco. Though unknown, the, like millions of their counterparts around the world, make our daily life better for their skills, their dedication, and a rare and earthy appreciation for living in the present moment. Most of them spend their entire existence in splendid obscurity. They are hardly recognised, much less celebrated. In this digitally globalised world, these good people are left behind, without the salaries or rights, equal to the true value of their labor. It is among these salt of the earth folks that one finds fraternity and wisdom. The fruit of their work is not cloud-based, but can be seen, and touched. It is true, and makes a difference.

I want to make people’s home what they wanted it to be. I am just here to help-that is my work.

Youssef, upholster 32, of Youssef Décor at B’ni Makada-a perfectionist, full of life, with a penchant for Briouats and ketchup, working his way slowly, steadily, and honestly.  


Ayyad, 54-also known as the Boss: nominally a plasterer, but really a jack-of-all-trades; a man of skills and a bon vivant.

My best reward is to see my customers happy-then, I am happy too.

Anis & Adil

 When people call us, most have tried everything themselves. So we are the last resort. We love to see their faces when we actually fix their appliances. For us, the challenge of the work is in finding a solution to a problem. We’re logical people.

Anas 19, and Adil, 38, repair technicians, with a mentor-disciple relationship; they ride around Tangier in a motorcycle, often forgetting to wear their helmets. They fix all sorts of appliances, from leaking faucets to wash machines, and everything in between.

Si Ahmed

There’s order in masonry; there’s precision and alignment. It is practically following nature. I am a simple Moroccan man, I just build homes for people, and my work is honest and lasting. It will be around for hundreds of years.

Si Ahmed, mason, 54: a man of precise habits, mathematical in nature and a veteran of the Moroccan Army.


 It’s not easy, but the only way I understand how to make progress is to work hard. I want to see my children have a good future in this Morocco of ours. Despite all, I am an optimist. For me, that is the way to be.

Abdelhadi: 37, House painter, a father of three, making a journey in this life.  

Edited comments and Photos by M. Zefzaf

Mohamed Zefzaf is a Professor of English & Storyteller at the Massachusetts Bay Community College/USA



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