A small peek at Casablanca and Jemaa-el-Fnaa, Morocco
Rummaging through some photos in our photo chest, I found these two photos from my mother’s childhood and adolescence in Morocco, which is also where my parents met while in high school.
Morocco was a French protectorate from 1912 to 1956. Many French nationals settled in Morocco while the French government exploited Morocco’s fertile lands and rich minerals. Although my mother’s French family moved to Morocco in 1957, after independence, it was in the aftermath of this occupation that my grandfather was eventually named director of a factory that produced glucose from corn.
The garden on the photograph is my mother’s childhood garden in Casablanca, Morocco. She remembers being a little girl in the 50s and 60s and watching lavish parties unfold on the slabbed deck, where my grandmother would bring all the indoor furniture outside and have giant dishes of traditional Moroccan couscous and tajine. She remembers sitting on the bench and enjoying the garden. She remembers inviting friends over when she was in high school, including my father!
Her family took many trips across Morocco, and often visited the great city of Marrakesh, where the second photograph was taken, at the world-famous Jemaa-el-Fnaa Square and Marketplace.
Named a UNESCO Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity for its role in continuing the tradition of oral storytelling, Jemaa-el-Fnaa was founded when Marrakesh was built by the Berber Almoravid empire in the 11th century. Funny enough, my paternal great-grandmother was a Berber!
I don’t know what this man is selling, but I think this photograph illustrates the changing times in Morocco in the 1960s. I love the merchant’s expression and his 60s sunglasses, and I love that those surrounding him are wearing both traditional and European-style clothing, but you cannot see their faces. The more I look at this photograph the more my imagination runs wild as to what was happening on Jemaa-el-Fnaa when it was taken.