Definitions and Direction

So I find myself needing to get focused on a project of sorts. Or at least to get organized around something. Other than building a website I mean. That of course is my top priority. (Income is always top of the list.) But I need balance and so I am going to start reading and writing more about a topic that is very close to my heart : Berbers.

You see, I am not Berber. I am Canadian. A privileged white hockey loving Canadian from an upper middle class background who went to private school, university AND college. Twice. I once spent many years living in 4 star hotels and flying around on someone else’s dime, eating gourmet meals and sucking back cocktails that never got billed to me. I was, and still am, very cool with that. But as I have grown older and less employed, I have come to realize that I don’t need a lot of the things I once thought were essential. I’m really cool living in a developing country with a Hello Kitty waste basket and mismatched furniture. (short term at least).

But when I arrived in Morocco completely ignorant of what I would find here I came to know some really lovely people and learned more about the culture and history of this place, and I became hooked. I became  fascinated with a way of life that is completely and utterly opposite to what I grew up with. And I continue to gobble up this culture as I live among it. I am not spending my time trying to meet other English speaking people, searching for ham and trying to find things that are just like home. I am spending my time with and among Berbers, I am watching news from the region and listening to the politics of this place.

I feel very much like I want to use my voice to talk more about these people and to share what I am learning with a wider audience. Not only is the Berber culture interesting because of its extraordinary history, the way this society treats women, their values, beliefs and practices but also their modern society. Women’s issues are a whole line of study, not only in how women were considered historically but also their struggles in modern culture. The struggles of Moroccan Berbers in an Arab dominant society is fascinating as well. I am just scratching the surface. It will take a lot of time to dig down and really turn things around to better understand and communicate it to anyone who is interested.

Now, before I get started, I need to make some things clear. There are things that I am an expert in, and there are things I am NOT an expert in. And there is a broad chasm in between those two poles. So when I say I am going to share some information about Berbers, you need to know that is it anecdotal and from my humble perspective. So let’s evaluate what my perspective might look like.

Things I am an EXPERT in :
– making pretty much any person I meet smile, if not laugh, and better yet, belly laugh
– sleeping in
– spending money
– finding the most expensive item in any store or gallery within 15 seconds of arriving on the scene
– moving
– cracking myself up
– forming an opinion and sharing said opinion

Things I am INTERESTED in :
– politics
– culture
– anthropology
– design
– women’s issues

Things I am DISTINCTLY NOT an expert in:
– details
– intense research
– politics
– women’s issues
– anthropology
– Islam
– Arabic culture and issues

So as we move forward, please understand that I am not setting out to write a tome on the history of Berbers with footnotes and hours of research that might eventually be considered the leading authority on the subject. No. I am merely sharing my observations so that you and I can all become more familiar with this fascinating people; so that we can understand their struggles and triumphs as well as their place in the world.

And when I say I am not good at in depth research I mean, not.at.all. There is a Berber woman I have met a few times and whom I ADORE. This is how our conversations go:

“Salam” “Salam” Kiss kiss. Berber is spoken, I look at someone with English skills and say …”What?”, a translation is offered. I smile, nod and offer a thumbs up in response.

So – you know. We don’t get much of a chance to dig deep on personal perspective.

It does not mean there is any less respect. It just means that I might need to learn some Berber sooner rather than later.

As I write this post, France24 news has run a report on Morocco’s anti-jihadist strategy, and they even through in a leader piece on some regression of women’s rights in modern society. Exactly some of the topics that are top of my mind. Things I want to share with you. So stand by while I collect myself, and join me again for more information.

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