Kenza Elazkem

Kenza Elazkem was born and raised in Marrakech, Morocco. She later moved to the United States to finish high school and pursue a degree in Political Science at the University of Texas in San Antonio. During her undergraduate studies, she participated in an exchange program at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. Kenza's interest for development started then. After completing her degree, Kenza joined the Carter Center for an internship in the field of democracy and election observation. She is currently pursuing a dual master's degree in International and Sustainable development between Hankuk University for Foreign Studies in South Korea, and the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica. Kenza taught English at a rural primary school in Costa Rica and also joined a women's Capoeira collective. She is eager to learn more about the world and enjoys cooking, traveling and sharing. After the fellowship, she wrote: "The best aspect of the fellowship was to see the process of carpet making and sharing meals with the women's families. Through the fellowship, I have learned the NGO jargon in Arabic. I am also more aware of my surroundings and pay more attention to detail now." Contact: kelazkem@advocacynet.org



Let’s Dance!

22 Oct

Let’s Dance!


A picture of an Ahidous performance where women are lining up in front of men and are going around while maintaining the same distance between the rows and always staying aligned

This must have been one of the most eventful summer weekends in Ain Leuh. For the past fifteen years, this small village at the foot of the Middle Atlas mountain range has been hosting the National Ahidous Festival. Ahidous is a traditional musical and dance art form very popular among the Amazigh population of the Middle and High Atlas. Women and men stand side by side to form flexible and undulating circles accompanied by singing and punctuated by the traditional round drum called ‘Bendir’.

Ahidous is known to be the favorite entertainment of the Amazigh people of central Morocco and their most complete and alive means of expression. Ahidous is danced in all kinds of celebrations and during the summer, after the harvest, it is danced every night in the villages. The dancers form a circle, a semicircle or two rows facing each other, men in one row and women in the other. Some alternate between men and women, they stand closely packed, shoulder against shoulder to form a block. The dance is punctuated by a tambourine and hand clapping. The movement is collective. It is a trampling, an earthquake that travels, interspersed by large waves such as the image of the wind on wheat fields. Their togetherness and ease demonstrate a remarkable sense of rhythm.

Sometimes, they are lead by a Maallem or master who acts as an orchestra conductor. Moha Oulhoussein Achiban must be the most famous Ahidous conductor in Morocco and the world. He was nicknamed the “Maestro” by Ronald Reagan. When mentioning Moha, it is important to also talk about the political role of Ahidous. This traditional dance form relies heavily on poetry. In the past, when conflict rose between tribes or villages, it was settled through Ahidous. The opponents would basically dance off and enter a poetic competition to resolve their different. Thus Ahidous was a resolution conflict method. In fact, it is still used as a political tool. The group who inaugurated the festival made it a point to sing a poem in Darija, the Moroccan Arabic dialect, and not in the Amazigh language as different officials and ministers were present. As communal and regional elections are coming in September, the poet chose to sing about the meaning of democracy, citizenship and the dangers of corruption while warning officials and counseling fellow citizens.

As for the Ain Leuh Women’s Cooperative, the women were so overwhelmed that they decided to take the three days of the festival off. Ain Leuh’s population quadruples during the Ahidous festival. The women’s relatives came for the duration of the festival and the women had to take care of their guests. Khdouj Ouchkak’s was so full of guests that some of them slept in a tent on the rooftop. Even I had guests during the festival, three of my family members came for the festival. My family and I had actually never seen an Ahidous performance live but only on TV. So we took advantage of the event.


My mother and aunt standing among the Ahidous troupe from Guercif, about 285 kilometers North-East of Ain Leuh

On the first day of the festival we went around the village. There were 37 troupes participating in the Festival from different cities and villages around the Atlas Mountains. They all set up traditional Amazigh tents, Khaima,  where they served food and played music for the public during the day before the performances on stage started in the evening. Each music troupe had their name and where they came from written on their tent, some of them arranged the space inside with carpets and sofas as in traditional Moroccan living rooms, others had chairs and tables to host the public.

The festival was also a chance for people to sell and buy goods. On the sides of the main road of Ain Leuh, vendors set up to sell all kinds of goods. Some of them were selling clothes and others cooking utensils. Some came from other regions to sell their weaves and others all the way from other countries to sell jewelry. Food vendors were gathered in a section of the village close to a water source. The festival acts as an annual gathering where people share goods, ideas, where they dance, sing, laugh and share moments. It also creates economic opportunities for the people of the village as they rent out rooms for visitors, sell food and also are able to buy goods from different vendors.

The festival lasted for three days. Three days during which the sound of drums never stopped. Three days during which people were celebrating, dancing and singing even when it started raining on the second day. However, on Tuesday, after the end and when the cooperative reopened, the ladies were happy that the calm was restored in the village.

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Let’s Dance!<\/strong><\/p>\n\n

\n

\n\t

\n\t\t

\"\"
\nA picture of an Ahidous performance where women are lining up in front of men and are going around while maintaining the same distance between the rows and always staying aligned<\/span><\/span><\/b><\/td>\n\t<\/tr>\n<\/tbody>\n<\/table>\n\n

This must have been one of the most eventful summer weekends in Ain Leuh. For the past fifteen years, this small village at the foot of the Middle Atlas mountain range has been hosting the National Ahidous Festival. Ahidous is a traditional musical and dance art form very popular among the Amazigh population of the Middle and High Atlas. Women and men stand side by side to form flexible and undulating circles accompanied by singing and punctuated by the traditional round drum called \u2018Bendir’.<\/p>\n\n

Ahidous is known to be the favorite entertainment of the Amazigh people of central Morocco and their most complete and alive means of expression. Ahidous is danced in all kinds of celebrations and during the summer, after the harvest, it is danced every night in the villages. The dancers form a circle, a semicircle or two rows facing each other, men in one row and women in the other. Some alternate between men and women, they stand closely packed, shoulder against shoulder to form a block. The dance is punctuated by a tambourine and hand clapping. The movement is collective. It is a trampling, an earthquake that travels, interspersed by large waves such as the image of the wind on wheat fields. Their togetherness and ease demonstrate a remarkable sense of rhythm.<\/p>\n\n

Sometimes, they are lead by a Maallem or master who acts as an orchestra conductor. Moha Oulhoussein Achiban must be the most famous Ahidous conductor in Morocco and the world. He was nicknamed the \u201cMaestro\u201d by Ronald Reagan. When mentioning Moha, it is important to also talk about the political role of Ahidous. This traditional dance form relies heavily on poetry. In the past, when conflict rose between tribes or villages, it was settled through Ahidous. The opponents would basically dance off and enter a poetic competition to resolve their different. Thus Ahidous was a resolution conflict method. In fact, it is still used as a political tool. The group who inaugurated the festival made it a point to sing a poem in Darija, the Moroccan Arabic dialect, and not in the Amazigh language as different officials and ministers were present. As communal and regional elections are coming in September, the poet chose to sing about the meaning of democracy, citizenship and the dangers of corruption while warning officials and counseling fellow citizens.<\/p>\n\n

As for the Ain Leuh Women\u2019s Cooperative, the women were so overwhelmed that they decided to take the three days of the festival off. Ain Leuh\u2019s population quadruples during the Ahidous festival. The women\u2019s relatives came for the duration of the festival and the women had to take care of their guests. Khdouj Ouchkak\u2019s was so full of guests that some of them slept in a tent on the rooftop. Even I had guests during the festival, three of my family members came for the festival. My family and I had actually never seen an Ahidous performance live but only on TV. So we took advantage of the event.<\/p>\n\n

\n

\n\t

\n\t\t

\"\"
\nMy mother and aunt standing among the Ahidous troupe from Guercif, about 285 kilometers North-East of Ain Leuh<\/span><\/span><\/b><\/td>\n\t<\/tr>\n<\/tbody>\n<\/table>\n\n

On the first day of the festival we went around the village. There were 37 troupes participating in the Festival from different cities and villages around the Atlas Mountains. They all set up traditional Amazigh tents, Khaima,  where they served food and played music for the public during the day before the performances on stage started in the evening. Each music troupe had their name and where they came from written on their tent, some of them arranged the space inside with carpets and sofas as in traditional Moroccan living rooms, others had chairs and tables to host the public.<\/p>\n\n

The festival was also a chance for people to sell and buy goods. On the sides of the main road of Ain Leuh, vendors set up to sell all kinds of goods. Some of them were selling clothes and others cooking utensils. Some came from other regions to sell their weaves and others all the way from other countries to sell jewelry. Food vendors were gathered in a section of the village close to a water source. The festival acts as an annual gathering where people share goods, ideas, where they dance, sing, laugh and share moments. It also creates economic opportunities for the people of the village as they rent out rooms for visitors, sell food and also are able to buy goods from different vendors. <\/p>\n\n

The festival lasted for three days. Three days during which the sound of drums never stopped. Three days during which people were celebrating, dancing and singing even when it started raining on the second day. However, on Tuesday, after the end and when the cooperative reopened, the ladies were happy that the calm was restored in the village.<\/p>“,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Kenza Elazkem

Posted Oct 22nd, 2015

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