The tranquility of the Menara gardens in Marrakech. .(Image: Wikimedia) There’s a famous lyric from “Star Trekkin’”, the song that parodies cult film and TV series Star Trek, in which Mr Spock warns Captain James Kirk: “It’s life, Jim … but not as we know it.”A few years ago, when I told a friend I would be travelling to Morocco he reminded me I shouldn’t expect that country to be at all similar to South Africa just because they are part of the same land mass. “It’s Africa, Jim,” he affirmed, “… but not as we know it.”At the time, this seemed to me a rather inappropriate remark – certainly not in keeping with the pan-African sentiments that those of us who are citizens of African countries are encouraged to inculcate.After spending some time in Morocco, however, I found that I had to agree with him. South Africa and Morocco are not only on opposite ends of the continent; as those who have visited or lived in both countries can attest, they often seem to be worlds apart.This is, of course, as it should be. Essentialised notions of Africa, according to which African countries are seen as generic entities with more or less the same histories, cultural practices, world views and political structures (with, at best, scope for a little variation on the theme), are both inaccurate and dangerous. They reproduce precisely the kind of generalisation that facilitated the colonisation of the so-called dark continent.On the other hand, precisely because colonialism brought about artificial national borders that did not take into account the clustering of different ethnic groups, cultures and tribes – which has resulted in countless instances of internecine conflict or civil war across the continent – it is perhaps appropriate to discuss characteristics of the various regions.Southern African countries share languages, show similarities in climate or topography and have strong cross-border cultural, political and socio-economic links. The same is true of regional affiliations in western, eastern, central and northern Africa.In particular, world history has shaped the countries to the north of the Sahara desert in ways that are distinct from sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco has been influenced as much by French, and more recently, Spanish incursions as by interaction with Arabic peoples of the eastern Mediterranean. Before that, there were the Romans and Phoenicians.Throughout, the Berbers or imazighen have asserted their presence as the indigenous people of this northwest corner of Africa.Rich, complex historyAs a result of this rich and complex history, a country has been forged that is in some ways recognisably African – whatever that may mean – but that, to those of us from southern Africa, also feels enticingly exotic. And there is no place in Morocco more enticing than the all-singing, all-dancing, all-suffering, all-smiling, all-smelling, all-selling city of Marrakech.Rabat is the capital of al-Magrib, the Kingdom of Morocco; Casablanca is its largest city, with a certain appeal to fans of the iconic 1942 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman; Fez has the renowned Fes el Bali, a remarkably well-preserved old town or medina.But the Red City of Marrakech, right in the centre of the country, is the beating heart of Morocco.I arrived there as a dusty late afternoon was turning to red-earth dusk. Looking out over a thousand rooftops, I surveyed a scene marked by haggard palm trees and crumbling sandstone towers. The smoke was rising from the cooking fires of the main square – Djemaa El Fna, the “place of the dead” or “place of the vanished mosque” – and the buskers and snake-charmers were packing up for the day; soon the real entertainment of song, comedy and serious debate would begin, lasting deep into the night.From speakers mounted on the minarets of mosques, muezzin singers called the Islamic faithful to prayer. I wandered away from the busy square, tracing a path through quiet alleyways and into the dim, labyrinthine passages of the souk, or market. Merchants sipped on sweet mint tea and discussed religion. A young couple shared a brief farewell and a kiss before approaching the separate male and female entrances to a hamam, or steam bath.Vast differencesA few days later, I travelled south to Ouzoud – an isolated spot where a waterfall cascades down a 100m precipice, feeding a fertile valley in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains. Here, amongst a small Berber community of subsistence farmers, I felt I was back in Africa.Unfortunately, there was to be no reverie of belonging. I was invited to a village wedding feast one evening: a kind gesture by my hosts but, I realised with disappointment, an imposition on my part. The bonjours and giggles of the young boys in attendance reminded me that I was an intruder, plainly a foreigner who did not fit in.It was time to leave, but I did so without any sense of sadness at being an outsider. For South Africans, as for tourists from other African countries – and indeed, perhaps more significantly, from countries elsewhere in the world – it’s good to be reminded that a vast continent must contain vastly different peoples and places.Africa cannot be condensed into a single, simple idea – a blank space on the map – and the dizzying difference of Morocco provides ample proof of this truth.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) this week announced it expects a three-year contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to pass with a 67 percent approval vote from its members. This is positive news for the U.S. economy and pork industry as the agreement eliminates the possibility of any near-term disruption of West Coast port service. In 2015, a nine-month labor dispute at ports from Seattle to San Diego slowed the flow of U.S. exports. As a member of the Ag Transportation Coalition and of the Ports Coalition, the National Pork Producers Councl continues to work for port accessibility and continuity of service.
Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim LATEST STORIES Mayweather, McGregor clash over racism FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner, fired 25 aces and 70 winners past world number 28 Querrey, the man who ended Murray’s reign as Wimbledon champion in the quarter-finals.“It’s unbelievable. I have played really well from the start of the tournament,” said 28-year-old Cilic.“Sam played at a high level especially in the first set. I was 4/1 up in the tie-break and didn’t convert.“But after that I was better in the return games. I thought the level was really high.“I’m feeling a positive on the court. It’s extremely important. My emotions are helping me a little bit.”Cilic admitted he faces a tough challenge trying to depose sentimental favorite Federer on Sunday.“Roger is playing the best tennis of his career on this court,” said Cilic, the second Croatian man to make the final after 2001 champion — and former coach — Goran Ivanisevic.“I never doubted it. Who knows what will happen in the final? It’s great to see Cilic there,” Ivanisevic told the BBC.Cilic took a 4-0 career lead over Querrey into Friday’s semi-final, including a marathon 5hr 31 min win at Wimbledon in 2012, the second longest match in tournament history. Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet With Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic suffering injury-hit exits in the quarter-finals and Rafael Nadal losing in the last 16, Federer will be the favorite to become Wimbledon’s oldest champion, succeeding Arthur Ashe who was almost 32 when he won in 1975.But despite leading Cilic 6-1 in career meetings, Federer will be wary of a man who was two sets to love up on him in the quarter-finals last year and held match points.“We had a brutal quarter-final last year here and he crushed me in straight sets at the US Open in 2014,” said Federer.“I have to play offensive. If you give Marin time on the ball, he can finish points nicely. The court is still playing quite fast.“It helps on my serve, but it also helps him. I’m sure it’s going to be a close match.”ADVERTISEMENT Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after beating Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych at the end of their Men’s Singles semifinal match on day eleven at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Friday, July 14, 2017. APLONDON—Seven-time champion Roger Federer reached his 11th Wimbledon final on Friday (Saturday, Manila), downing 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4.The 35-year-old, bidding to win a record eighth title and become the oldest champion at the All England Club in the Open era, will face Croatia’s Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final.ADVERTISEMENT Federer had defeated 2010 runner-up Berdych 18 times in 24 matches before Friday and he was quickly in the ascendancy, breaking for 3-2.But an uncharacteristic double fault handed the break back in the eighth game before the 18-time major winner played a more composed tiebreak.He pocketed the opener when Berdych miss-hit and ballooned the ball wide.Berdych kept pressing but had to fend off more break points in the fourth game of the second set before Federer again swept through the breaker on the back of a 5/1 lead.The big Czech would have to win from two sets down at the Slams for the first time in 38 matches if he were to return to the final.Unbelievable Berdych, who had the face of his vanquished quarter-final opponent Djokovic painted on the tongues of his tennis shoes, saved a break point in the fifth game of the third set.Federer then saved two to go to 3-3, made the Czech pay with a break for 4-3 and raced through a 50-second service game for 5-3.Victory was his in the 10th game when Berdych netted a weary forehand.“This guy doesn’t really seem to be getting any older,” said Berdych of Federer who has made the final without dropping a set. Seventh seeded Cilic reached his first Wimbledon title match at the 11th attempt with a 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 win over America’s Sam Querrey.READ: Big-hitting Cilic tops Querrey to make Wimbledon final FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars“I feel very privileged to be in another final and get the pleasure to play on Centre Court another time,” said Federer who was playing in his 42nd Grand Slam semi-final.He is the second oldest man to make the Wimbledon final after 39-year-old Ken Rosewall finished runner-up in 1974. Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments