Last Update 20:41
Sunday, 24 March 2019

Rhythms of slavery draw tourists to Moroccan village

Reuters , Friday 26 Oct 2018
Views: 2101
Views: 2101

In a village hut in Morocco's southwestern desert, a group of white-clad locals sat and played the music of the slaves they are descended from to an audience of brightly dressed western tourists.

For centuries, the slave trade was a component of the trans-Saharan desert routes between Morocco’s ancient cities and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The locals of Khamlia claim descent from those forced to march north who, by rattling their chains, created trance-like rhythms to ease their pain.

Known as Gnawa, the mix of traditional music, chanting and dance now makes them money as they entertain increasing numbers of tourists.

"Sometimes we get requests from hotels and tourist camps to perform in the desert at night. This is how we earn our living," band member Zeid Oujaa said.

They say they instruments they use, evoking their bitter history, have been handed down through generations.

As well as drums and a three-stringed bass called the hajhouj, they play the krakebs, a two-piece instrument held together by thread in place of the metal restraints that once bound their ancestors' hands.

For more arts and culture news and updates, follow Ahram Online Arts and Culture on Twitter at @AhramOnlineArts and on Facebook at Ahram Online: Arts & Culture

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.