Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Case of the Missing D'kak!

During the pre-dawn hours in Ramadan you may hear a drumming, singing and loud horn playing. This is the signal that the D'kak is abroad. This year the D'kak seems to be missing
To make certain you don't miss this meal is the job of the Bou Damdoum in Amazigh or D’kak in Moroccan Arabic, (the drummer), who uses his drums or n’ffar (a long horn that makes buzzing sound) to guarantee that everyone in the neighbourhood wakes up in time to cook and then enjoy their Suhoor meal before beginning the day's fast. It is a tradition also in Lebanon where the drummer is referred to as the Musaharati.

Yassine Boudouàià - one of the D'kaks in the Fez Medina

This Ramadan people waited intently for the sound of our local D'kak Yassine's approach. Nothing. No squeak, no drum, no singing, no banging on doors. It occurred to locals that maybe he had slept in and that good folk should get their drums and n'ffars and bang on a few doors until they found him.

After 2 in the morning the kids dance with the D'kak

The history of the D'kak dates back many centuries. It seems that his function was part of the social life in the Islamic eras, particularly during the Mameluk and Ottoman times.

An early report of the role of a D'kak in Algiers is in the remarkable work by the cleric Antonio de Sosa. In his Topography of Algiers (1612) - Edited with an introduction by María Antonia Garcés. Translated by Diana de Armas Wilson - Sosa has a brief description of the D'kak during Ramadan. "When midnight approaches, some Muslims, out of devotion, walk the streets sounding certain drums, whose sound awakens sleepers so that they can return to their food..." This is the same custom that (hopefully) still exists in the Fez Medina today.

In Palestine the D'kak is known as "the public walker" and exists to this day. Sadly, he seems missing in action in Fez.

Public walker Mohammed al Jamalah in Gaza City


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