Morocco youth transform traditional festival to gain voice


Dressed in sheepskins and spooky masks, young Moroccans dance through the neglected city streets of Sale north of the kingdom's capital to mark the annual Boujloud festival.

Often referred to as Morocco's Halloween, Boujloud is deeply rooted in local traditions and customarily celebrated after the Eid ul-Adha holiday.

But in Sale's Siddi Moussa district, organisers this year were seeking to transform the traditional festivities by using street art and performances to give a voice to those who are usually not heard.

"The festival aims to send our voice to the elected officials and make them aware of our needs," says Mohamed Ouahib, head of the Space of Solidarity and Development, which organised Sale's festival – now in its twelfth year.

Created by Sidi Moussa residents, the association hopes hype around the event will bring much needed "media coverage to the district".

Children line the streets and watch from windows as figures clad in sheep and goatskins parade by wearing ghoulish masks and dancing to rhythmic Gnawa music. Further down the road, the masquerade expands. Young men march by carrying a model dragon reminiscent of the ones used to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Another group shuffles past carrying a wooden statue of a man dressed in traditional Moroccan garb.

Across the neighbourhood, young people fill the streets joyfully celebrating their cultural heritage through creative expression.

Marked in different manners across the country, some Boujloud festivals attract Moroccans from across the country who come to proudly show off their local traditions.

"We are here to participate with our Boujloud," says Mbarek Seksiwi, who came with friends from the southern city of Agadir. "Each region in Morocco has its own way of wearing the costume. In our region, we use a dozen skins" to make our outfit, he adds.    (AFP)                                                                                                                   

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