Nayda, Moroccan youths on the move

Nayda, Moroccan youths on the moveAccording to scholars, "this movement took off in Morocco after the 2002 legislative elections and the terrorist attacks in Casablanca in May 2003. This was a key period in the recent history of Morocco, which saw the emergence of feelings such as astonishment and exasperation in youths determined to change their country from within". This Moroccan "movida" goes by the name of "nayda" : a name that in Darija, the Arab dialect spoken in the Maghreb, means "get up on your feet", "wake up" or "is there something going on here ?" Listening to the words of the Moroccan rappers that testify loudly and clearly to their refusal of corruption, the contradictions of their society and the political situation at large, hearing their call for the need to take one’s destiny into one’s own hands, it really feels like something is ‘on the move’ in Morocco, the same Morocco where festivities celebrating the 10th anniversary of Mohammed VI’s ascension to the throne were still taking place at the end of July. Observers point out how in recent years the "nayda" has manifested itself in all forms of cultural productions with a kind of libertarian impetus – from music to cinema, from graphic art to fashion – revealing an unprecedented sense of freedom of expression. Artists are using a language that is a mixture of local dialect, French and English, together with rhythms both from the national (Berber) and international music heritage. According to researchers at the Institute of National and International Heritage (Inalco), the "nayda" carries with it various implications : the acceptance of pluralism, intellectual independence, the movement from a ‘subject’ status to that of a ‘citizen’, and a sense of reconciliation with the past.
Nayda, Moroccan youths on the move"Nayda" is also the theme of the film Casanayda (Farida Benlyazid and Abderrahim Mettour) produced by Sigma. The story, written by Dominique Caubet, reveals the social and cultural unrest that is getting a foothold in the economic capital of Morocco, Casablanca. Casanayda in fact means Casablanca on the move, Casablanca that keeps changing from one day to the next. The transformation is a positive one, unique in the Arab world, described in the local press as a kind of Moroccan "movida" that took root in 2003, after Hoba Hoba Spirit, a group of young musicians, was accused of Satanism. Since then many things have changed – and are still changing – something which Moroccan youths are conscious of. They know that they are emerging from a state of immobility, as the rap lyrics of Fez City Clan reveal. Fez City Clan is a hip hop band that condemns unemployment, violence against women, the misery of Moroccan suburbs, but also the affirmation of an identity that young people won’t renounce.

The dawn of the "nayda" movement in the early years of the new millenium was followed by the liberalisation of the press and radio frequencies, with radio stations broadcasting new music creations from the "nayda" as early as 2006. Many Moroccan artists may welcome this cultural renaissance, yet others point out the fact that the movement is essentially an urban one, and fear that it will be instrumentalised by politics or by the economic market, in terms of propaganda and imagery. If the recent cultural, social and political dynamics have led the European Union (EU) to acknowledge a special status to Morocco as an "advanced country ", a report published on 22 July 2009 by Reporters Without Borders traces a controversial assessment of the 10 years’ reign of Mohammed VI as far as freedom of expression is concerned. Many journalists have been sent to jail or forced to pay large fines. Following a certain sense of liberty during the first years of Mohammed VI’s reign that led to a boom in newspapers and radio stations, laws regarding the press and free speech seem to have been tightened since 2002, with some journalists even complaining of restrictive laws now in place. If only one percent of the population buys newspapers, radio and television are more accessible, but licences are still issued by the state. The most recent protagonist is Internet : approximately six million Moroccans (out of a population of 31 million) are connected to the Internet. One user of a well-known foreign ‘social networking’ site was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for pretending to be Prince Moulay Rachid. Following a global mobilisation on the part of ‘web citizens’ worldwide, he was released and granted a royal pardon after 42 days in jail.

Marcella Rodino
(translated by Nadia Mifsud Mutschler)


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