Friday, January 20, 2017

Morocco's Love Affair With The Moped

The moped, the iconic Peugeot 103, has been around for so long in the country that most Moroccans do not notice it. Yet, it is still a popular choice for people, both in rural and urban areas

The first models of the Peugeot 103 were made in France in 1971, intended for older people living in the countryside. But the model caught on fast, overtaking its predecessors the 101 and 102, becoming a must-have among youth and blue-collar workers.

"They started arriving in Morocco in the eighties," says Habachi, a mechanic in central Rabat, "the model became popular among the working class and low-ranking public servants. Today it's become a bit outdated. But it's so solid, it still has a lot of followers."

"We adore the 103," says Mohammed Ngaire, a salesman at a used motorbike and moped market in Rabat, showcasing the most beautiful specimens of the Peugeot 103 still in circulation. "Come and see, we have them all".

No permit is required to drive the moped, which can be spotted at virtually every street corner in Morocco where they zip around in their legendary glory -- starting pedals, 49cm3 engine, miraculous petrol tank back-up, 45-kilometre-per-hour (28-mile-per-hour) speed limit and all.
Some models have been customised in new chrome colours, but the must-have item is a special kit to boost the engine's carburator. Urban legend has it that all thieves in the southern city of Marrakesh once pimped their mopeds like this, so police were ordered to arrest anyone riding at more than 80 kilometres an hour.

France stopped producing the 103 in 2011 and Morocco followed suit three years later when it shuttered its DIMAC-Peugeot plant in Casablanca.
The Rabat motorbike market, worries are high over a new arrival in town, the cheap Chinese scooters which have invaded the country.The Asian two-wheelers zip all over the capital, but at the used bike market, vendors are unanimous.
"Chinese bikes work, but they're not quality. They're like disposable razors."


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi dies aged 95

Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi, the head of one of Morocco's biggest Sufi orders, died today aged 95

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi was the spiritual leader of the Qadirriyya Boutchichiyya Sufi order which has tens of thousands of followers in Morocco and abroad, and which he had been leading since 1972.

The Qadiri order's origins go back to Abd al Qadir al-Jilani(1083–1166) which become very important a few decades later with his descendants. The Boutchichi branch of this order came into being in the eighteenth century in the North-west of Morocco. Its headquarters principal zaouia is in the small village of Meddagh near Berkane but Sidi Hamza himself has built another zaouia near Naima in the province of Oujda

Sheikh Sidi Hamza al-Qadiri al-Boutchichi died in the northwestern city of Oujda and will be buried in the nearby town of Madagh on Thursday. He named his eldest son, Sidi Jamal, to succeed him, according to a spokesman of the brotherhood, Mounir Al Buchichi.

Seen as a "living master" by his followers and famed for his wisdom and kindness, Hamza was believed to be descended from the Prophet Mohammed and belonged to a long line of Sufi leaders. Visitors came from across the world to hear him teach, and every year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims gather in Madagh to celebrate Mawlid, the Prophet Mohammed's birthday.

With hundreds of millions of followers around the world, Sufism permeates popular culture in many countries, especially in Morocco. The French rapper Abd al-Malik is one of the Boutchichiyya followers and sang the Sheikh's praises in his album "Gibraltar".

Sufism is the "heart" of Islam, its spiritual path, an initiatory path of inner transformation where self-knowledge leads to that of the other and to that of God.

For the Sufis, God is both near and inaccessible. It is a hidden treasure whose sign is found at the heart of all beings. Guided by a master, the Sufi student wants to rediscover this divine reality, to forget his ego to get lost in the love of God.

Sufis spend time studying the Quran, chanting and dancing to enter a spiritual trance.

With hundreds of millions of followers across the world, Sufism has deep roots in popular culture in Morocco and across West Africa.

Various Sufi orders are active in Turkey, the Middle East and Central Asia. However, followers of hardline Salafist and Wahhabist interpretations of Islam see Sufism as heretical.


Moroccan Weather - Temperatures Plunge

According to a special bulletin from the Moroccan weather office the cold snap will continue and the mercury will drop even further during the next 72 hours

Temperatures will fall to -11 ° in the provinces of Midelt, Tinghir, Azilal, Al Haouz, Beni Mellal, Boulemane and Ifrane. Elsewhere minimum temperatures will fluctuate between 0 ° and 6 °.

With the cold wave, heavy snow falls are expected on Thursday and Friday in several regions of Morocco.

In its bulletin the national meteorology office indicated that these falls will impact the provinces of Al Haouz, Azilal, Beni Mellal, Midelt, Khenifra, Ifrane, Sefrou, Boulemane and Taza. Low to moderate snowfall will also affect the eastern regions (Jerada, Figuig, Guercif and Taourirt), the Rif (Al Hoceima, Taounate and Chefchaouen) and the El Hajeb region.

Snow in Kenifra

For its part, the north will experience rain showers that can be locally strong in the provinces of Fahs Anjra, Medieq-Fnideq and Tangier from Wednesday to Thursday.

Temperatures in Fez over the next few days will range between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.


Burqa Cross-Dressing Arrests

On Monday police in a village near Sidi Bibi in the southern province of Chtouka, arrested two men wearing burqas in public. At present there is no explanation of why the men were wearing female clothing

The police, who searched the house of the two men, found more burqas and ascertained that no women lived in the house. A judicial source said that the men wore the burqas so as not to be identified. A police investigation has begun by the Chtouka gendarmerie to determine the reasons why the two men had taken to wearing this Afghan style clothing in this region of Souss.

It is understood that the other villagers believed that the two men were actually women who covered themselves from head to foot out of modesty and respect for the precepts of Islam.

It is interesting that these arrests come on the heels of the government move to ban the sale and manufacture of the burqa in Morocco (see story here)


Fes Festival's New Director General

Platon Alexis Hadjimichalis, eco-artist, naturo-plastician, and ex-ambassador is the new Director General of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. With a history of diplomacy and art, he makes an interesting choice

Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis was born in Paris in 1950. He comes from a three generations artistic family and was brought up in French and Greek cultural and intellectual milieus.

In the circles where his parents (an architect and an archaeologist) moved in, he grew up among artists of different nationalities who were living and working in Paris and Athens between 1950 and 1970. All these people surrounded Platon H. from an early age with their ideas and creativity, shaping his personality and art. Without him realising it at the time, they were his teachers along with his father who taught him how to ‘use his hands’ and made him familiar with construction and building materials. As a regular visitor to the French Archaeological School in Greece he became familiar with ancient walls assemblage, mosaics, floors and with aesthetics in general.

Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis started painting in the ’70s, very much influenced by Francois Morellet and Vasarely.

In parallel with his work as a Greek civil servant, Platon-Alexis Hadjimichalis started creating organic surfaces in the 1980’s, inspired by Normandy’s seaweeds after a low tide.

He was the Greek Ambassador to Morocco for three years and resigned last April.

He makes a welcome addition to the Fes Festival team.

The View From Fez is an official Media Partner of the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Fez Forecast... African Weather

Just a reminder to visitors to Fez over the next few days. It is cold and we can expect about four or five days of rain, starting tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon

Not everyone is prepared. As one scantily clad tourist told The View From Fez ... "But I thought this was Africa and Africa is supposed to be hot"... Yeah, sure...


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Jazzablanca Festival in April

Casablanca will host the 12th edition of the Jazzablanca Festival from April 8th to 16th at the Anfa racecourse and from April 14th to 16th on the BMCI stage

The French trumpet player Erik Truffaz will be honoured during this 12th edition of the Jazzablanca.

The Truffaz will present his new album to the Casablancan public on February 8 at the Megarama.

Jazzablanca 2017 will take place on three stages and will feature Jazz, Soul, Pop and Rock. Find more information at: