LIFE IN A BERBER TOWN
BENI FOUDA, MOROCCO
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A CONVERSATION WITH Abdusalam
FARMER IN BENI FOUDA, MOROCCO
Abdusalam is a farmer and Berber tribesman living in the remote Rif Mountains of Northern Morocco. The Berbers who are indigenous to these lands, are believed to have lived in the area since 10,000 BC. Throughout history, the Riffian Berbers have traded their handicrafts with Moorish and Arab urbanites of the Maghreb, but largely made their living via a pastoral, self-sustainable, farming lifestyle on the abundant lands that surround their villages.
My roots are here, so it is normal like a tree, when close to its roots, would be prosperous and its leaves good and green.ABDUSALAM, RIFFIAN FARMER
S+O — HAVE YOU LIVED IN THIS VILLAGE YOUR ENTIRE LIFE?
ABDUSALAM — I was born here in Beni Fouda in 1937, and have been living here my entire life.
My children were born here as well.
S+O — WHY DO YOU PREFER THE LIFESTYLE OF LIVING IN THE MOUNTAINS?
ABDUSALAM — I like the air, abundant water, greenery and the sound of the birds. The air is fresher and purer compared to the city’s air. My roots are here, so it’s normal for me to live here just like a tree, when close to its roots, it would be prosperous and its leaves green and healthy.
S+O — HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR LIVING?
ABDUSALAM — From the 1950s to 1970s, I made a living in the handicraftsman trade. Now, I am a farmer. My wife tends to our flock of animals. We farm barley, bitter vetch, wheat, walnuts, lentils, peas, fava beans, and carob.
S+O — WHAT IS MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU?
ABDUSALAM — The nicest thing is when I see my children happy, and not lacking any necessities such as food. I wish for everyone to be happy and doing well. Not only for my sons and daughters, but also that all my neighbors and all of Morocco is doing well.
S+O — WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU WITNESSED IN THE WORLD?
ABDUSALAM — For me, not a lot has changed. I live my life as I have always lived it. We have more wealth now. We have more bounties provided by Allah. But I believe there is a decline in morals. We no longer have the kindness, compassion, and respect for each other in the world.
S+O — WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE BASED ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED?
ABDUSALAM — Everyone in the whole world should be good to one another. I advise people to be kind, and for them to take care of the people they encounter, if they are in need. Show anyone you meet kindness.
I advise people to be kind, and for them to take care of the people they encounter, if they are in need. Show anyone you meet kindness.
Film by K23 Films
Photography by Brian Sokol
Special Acknowledgments - Ali and Idris of Fès Guide
Exclusive Edition 004 Moroccan Leather Tote
This lambskin leather tote was made by artisans working with traditional methods in the tanneries of Fès, Morocco where the craft of leatherwork has thrived for nearly twelve hundred years. The leather used in the tote follows ancient traditions passing first from the farmer to souk, then souk to tannery, and lastly from the tannery to artisan for quality construction of the goods.
BENI FOUDA, MOROCCO
The commune of Beni Fouda lies in the heart of the Rif Mountains. Isolated and difficult to reach, yet absolutely worth a day’s journey from Tangier or Fès to experience life in one of the most traditional societies of Morocco, the Riffian Berbers. The colorful and unique indigenous Berber architecture punctuates the landscape surrounded by rolling hills of ancient olive groves. While a driver, guide and translator is essential, it is evident even with the language barrier, that the people living there are of open hearts, minds and awaiting the moment to share their hospitality and culture with their guests.