22 January, 2021

Morocco Diary

Poverty has no language but still it is an awkward feeling to be accosted by handicapped beggars and homeless mendicants speaking fluent French

Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Morocco Diary
Rabat Mata ki Jai

Arriving in Africa for the first time when Africans are being beaten up back home is a revealing experience. The mental image of the “dark continent” even among peripatetic Indians is, well, pathetic. Third-rate textbooks and non-existent media coverage have spawned racist stereotypes of poor, famished people living in “sub-Saharan” conditions in dirty shanties and rolling joints or selling sex all day. It takes less than a minute after the Air India One carrying vice-president Hamid Ansari touches down in Rabat to imagine that much as such an Africa might exist in the hum­ongous land mass down below, here in its northwest corner is its polar opposite, where public display of affection is not scorned at despite a 99 per cent Islamic populace.

Probably because Morocco’s northernmost point is just 14 km by boat from Spain, but more likely because the French married its 12th-century Arabo-Muslim past with...



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