1118 Last Berber Village (Mor 360)

Trip Start Aug 15, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Morocco  , Souss-Massa-Drâa,
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 054 : 2 hours, 2.2 kms

While exploring my next village, I meet a friendly fellow who gives me some very interesting information about this town:  "This is the last Berber village.  The next village down the road is an Arab one."

This comes as a surprise—I had the idea that the Draa Valley was all Berber. “So how do Berbers and Arabs get along?”

“Oh we get along fine—even intermarry.  We shop at the same weekly markets and there's no tension between us. At one time there was, but not any more.”  He points up the road.  “Ten kilometres this way and ten kilometres that way… everybody knows everybody because we all go to the same market every week.  That’s why there’s no crime here—do something wrong and it’s all but guaranteed somebody you know will see you.”

“What about people from outside the region… don’t they commit crimes?”

“Oh, if an out of towner passes through, we keep a close eye on him the entire time—until he leaves.”

This region does seem to have an almost utopian quality to it:  no crime… everybody gets along… everybody trusts everybody.  But clearly this has been a region fraught with wars and struggle—you can read about it in the history books and see it in the architecture.  So what is the secret?  How is it that this region has become so peaceful and people from this region are known all across the country as being very honest and hardworking?

I think that there are different factors that contribute—some cultural, some economic… Nowadays, thanks to the dam upstream, this region doesn’t suffer from periodic drought as much as it once did.  And when the population grows beyond what the land can sustain, it’s easy for some of the sons to just go to the big cities to look for work (of course, always leaving at least one son to tend to the family land).  And having a strong national government I suppose also serves as a deterrent for inter-tribal strife.  But I think there’s also something special about the culture here—the connectedness of the community and the values that are instilled into the children that help insure that they live by a strong moral and ethical code.

A few days later, on my way back to Casablanca I’ll sit next to a fellow from this region who will add some new insights.  “My ancestors are actually Saharawi, nomadic desert tribes.  When there were wars between the sedentary tribes of the Draa Valley, the Saharawis fought as mercenaries in exchange for the promise of oasis land.  My family was given land, and became sedentary farmers as well.”

Fascinating place, this Draa River Valley.
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