Our second meeting of the “Moroccan Culture & Society” class focused a lot on what’s going on in Moroccan society. Because of Morocco’s history and geography, the country always faces strong Western influence. Whether it be music, culture, or clothing, two sides always exist. Even today, most Moroccan cities are divided in the Medina (old city) and the Ville Nouvelle (newer part built by the French). Starting with music, American is everywhere, with no exception in Morocco. My host-brother listens to Lady Gaga, while Justin Bieber and rap music could often be heard on radio. This doesn’t mean American is dominating though, as my host-family also watches entertainment shows on TV that feature traditional Moroccan music, sometimes maybe with a little modern twist.
The use of Internet is also booming in Morocco. Moroccans are no strangers to Facebook, Twitter, or MySpace. The number ofInternet cafe has been growing exponentially, and nearly every city has them. Cell phones are also pretty popular. According to our teacher, 26 out of the 34 million people living in Morocco has access to cell phone. Some people even have more than one. The way cell phone works in Morocco is more like a pay-as-you-go style. Three companies offer service: Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and INWI. Buying a cell phone is incredibly easy. You walk into the store, you find the phone you like, and you pay for it. There really isn’t any contract or plans that come with the cell phone. To use the cell phone, you have to buy a SIM card that can be inserted into the cell phone (and is associated with the company that provides your service), which will already have some minutes on it. When the minutes run out, you have to go to a service branch to buy more minutes that could range from 20 Dh to 500 Dh. I am not really sure on how much one minute costs, but 100 Dh is supposedly plenty. One thing about cell phones here: they have a lot of features US cell phones don’t have. For example, Arabic keyboard (Moroccans love texting too), flashlight (you never know when you need one), prayer times reminder, Qiblah direction (tells you which direction Kaaba in Mecca is), and the function to stimulate a fake call to (as stated in the user manual) get you out of meetings or other undesirable events.
Other social changes include the structure of family. Back before the family law reformation, women’s space is primarily the house. When a woman marries a man, she becomes part of the man’s family, literally. She lives with the man’s side of the family, and more than likely will take care of the man’s father and mother. However, now that women’s role is changing in Morocco, more and more women start to work instead of being housewives. This created increasing need of maids, which really isn’t a good or bad thing. But women are definitely more free to leave the house as they wish.
One of things that many of us notice is a lot of people sit in cafe ALL day. And it’s not like they are there to have a quick drink, or to read the newspaper, or to discuss things. Nope, they sit in the cafe all day long, stare at the sidewalk and people passing by (and it’s all male in this case). Maybe it’s really a different way of life, but I wonder if they ever get bored…?