Moroccan society has an agrarian-pastoral tradition in which honesty is a virtue. Moroccans have a close connection with the sacred, love good work, and are good negotiators. In Morocco, hospitality is a duty, but Amazighs can also be fierce fighters when it comes to protecting their wealth or ensuring solidarity within their group. Morocco is rich in thousands of years of history and has always been able to use and absorb the contributions of the societies with which it has coexisted. Globalization, migration and the development of the modern world project Moroccan society into new horizons, where tradition and modernity merge.
1. agropastoral society
Moroccan society is inherently agrarian and pastoral, with an original attachment to the land and the herd. All shades of nomadism and sedentarism existed: nomadic nomadism, nomadic transhumance, pastoralism among the sedentary, and occasional plowing among the nomadic. Rain is eagerly awaited in autumn and spring; if it comes too late, men’s “deviant” behavior is punished, and ritual practices such as pleading or engagement with rain are activated. There is also a connection with the sea, with fishing traditionally complementing agricultural and pastoral life. On both land and sea, goods circulate and are exchanged in exchange for something or simply to establish relationships, expand the circle of relationships, maintain friendship, good neighborliness or solidarity.
2. honesty is a virtue
A job well done is always seen as a value; honesty is elevated to a virtue. Both are horizons to which we must constantly aspire. The reality of social relationships shows the fallacy of people in this regard; but it is always helpful to remind even the most honest people of the “right way.” A religious sermon, a hagiographic narrative, a moralizing story, a proverb, an idiom, a poem, and others serve the purpose of a preacher, a troubadour, a storyteller, an educator, or a simple prose writer. Endless repetition is not so much persuasion as memorization. Comprehensive, diffuse, and immanent morality thus pollutes social attitudes, behavior, language, politeness, attitude, and manners.
3. the sacred in the body
The social relationships that people maintain, especially on days of celebration or joy, sorrow or suffering characteristic of life, are strengthened by a close relationship with the sacred. The sacred is much broader than religion and includes both religion and all forms of religiosity and the sacred characteristic of Moroccan society. The sacred is on two levels: (i) in the horizontal plane it is found throughout, regardless of latitude or altitude, on the plains, in the mountains, in the desert or on the coast; (ii) in the vertical plane it radiates as a network of waves, each sacred point radiating a certain radius (a sacred spring; a tree or forest; a rock; a mountain peak; a village saint; a patron of a valley, town or region; a zavia; a neighborhood or village oratory; a mosque cathedral. …). Not to mention the personalities of the baraka, from the local seer to the preacher with national appeal, who passes through various intermediate levels of competence or popularity.
4. enjoy a well-deserved rest
Farmers, farmers, merchants and artisans show their love for a job well done. But they know how to enjoy a well-deserved rest: for farmers the days of sheep shearing become days of active rest, for farmers the days off for purification, for artisans and tradesmen in medinas it is still customary to close their stores on Fridays. One cleanses oneself, dresses accordingly, to visit relatives, neighbors, or just to walk around the city or village. In Marrakech, we cook a tangiya (a pot in which meat is cooked in ash from the fire of the hammam) together with artisans and eat it together in the garden on the outskirts of the city. It always ends with a loud “dakka marrakchia”-a mixture of men’s chants and dances, the rhythm of which builds up to the sound of cymbals, drums, tambourines, and hand clapping.
5. a good negotiator
The products of agriculture, pastoralism, and handicrafts are mainly for family and community consumption, but they are not exempt from trade and circulation. The Moroccan is said to be a bargain hunter. Everything is an occasion for bargaining, whether it’s a pile of vegetables in a souk, a sheep on Eid or the latest SUV. The opportunity is taken to talk about other things before returning to the subject of the sale. It’s hard to agree on price offers: They are perplexing and suspicious. The problem of finding the right price is preferable to vulgar labeling. If you’re afraid of being cheated, double down on your negotiating spirit. We use many tricks to embellish the product, praise the quality of service, or negotiate a better price on the buyer’s side, such as claiming to buy two pairs instead of one. The salesman is not wrong and raises the price, believing that he will eventually have to agree to lower it.
6 Solidarity is a duty
In an unfavorable natural environment, human complementarity and solidarity are more than necessary. In two-thirds of the country, rainfall is so infrequent and irregular that it reduces the productivity of pastures and arable land. Epidemics, internal wars, and turmoil after the change of dynasties exacerbate the state of insecurity in which Moroccans have found themselves several times throughout their history. To cope with this situation, a complex social structure has existed since ancient times. It is based on family, kinship, real or fictitious genealogical ties. Food is sacred. By eating together, guests became allies, indebted to each other for help. Treaties called tada were made between groups of different sizes. The rule of sharing food (or salt, meaning an important ingredient of the meal) could not be broken under threat of damnation. Even today it is used as a reminder of the bonds that bind (and continue to bind) guests, regardless of their degree of kinship. Hospitality is a duty rather than an obligation (see Hospitality).
7. the amazigh is a fierce fighter
The defense of one’s country is another trait of the Moroccan character. It is said and written that the Amazigh is a fierce warrior: from ancient times his coveted land has accustomed him to self-sacrifice. Episodes of Chief Edemon who rebelled after the assassination by Caligula of King Ptolemy, son of Juba II (40 BC), Koseila who repelled the army of Okba (7th century), Saadi who defended the coast against the Spanish and the Portuguese (16th century), and the recent resistance to Spanish-French colonization (1907-1936) are edifying examples. Weapons carved in stone or sculpted in metal, skill in fantasy and equestrian games, and warrior dances are some distinctive features of the culture. Of course, this does not exclude treachery, misunderstanding, and vice. It does not preclude quite human behavior – fear of death, fear for oneself, betrayal – but there is always someone to remind those unwilling to do their duty, like the women who mark their clothes with henna at the moment of battle. Not so much to ridicule them as to emphasize their cowardice.
8. halal wealth
The pursuit of wealth is legitimate. The accumulation of possessions and titles is good as long as it is not frowned upon. On the other hand, any display is not welcome. It is unseemly to flaunt one’s wealth unless it takes the form of properly directed and/or institutionalized generosity. Architecture reflects this tendency toward pristine sameness, whether it be the two-story villages of the Mediterranean north nestled against mountain slopes, the xuras of the Saharan south surrounded by protective fences, or the houses huddled behind their walls in medinas. There, as here, the same simplicity of facades, the same modesty of form, the same humility, for this residence is only a temporary shelter for the passage of the last man on earth, which forever belongs only to its Maker. Thus, splendor is given only to the few, who in turn must be generous to the many. Economic, social, political and ethical mechanisms enable regulation, communal control of the individual and cycles of redistribution. Zawiya is a typical institution for such cases. When these mechanisms fail, break down, or get hijacked, there are open and sometimes violent protests. When the accumulation of wealth is accompanied by a monopolization of power, when protest becomes a dangerous act, messianic faith reinforces the expectation of better days. Mahdi, the eternal savior, is personified by the protester with a strong sense of equality.
9. the power of syncretism
Borrowing is the rule rather than the exception. Moroccans borrow from other cultures, but they also experiment and invent their own things and ideas. Material evidence of this repeated borrowing exists from early history. As time goes on, this becomes more and more evident. Artifacts found by archaeologists at excavation sites testify to this capacity for borrowing, which Moroccans also share with other peoples of the Mediterranean and beyond. However, this capacity is not passive: it takes a borrowed object, adopts it, adapts and sometimes transforms it in order to adapt it to the local cultural form. Examples abound. Tea is probably the most typical (see the article “Hospitality”).
These deep features of Moroccan culture are not found everywhere or at all times in Morocco’s long history. Rather, they are moral boundaries that society seems to have set for itself and to which individuals must constantly and endlessly strive. Today Moroccan culture has undergone profound changes. Traditional forms have undergone various adaptations, have disappeared or are on the verge of disappearing. New forms have appeared, such as theater, cinema, painting, sculpture, photography, music concerts, video, etc. Creative media and forms of dissemination diversified and modernized. Other forms of cultural consumption have become accepted and acclimatized. The content itself has been enriched by new themes that sometimes conform to the moral norms of the medium, and sometimes challenge and criticize the consensus of the majority. This tug-of-war, often characterized by a combination of tradition and modernity, seems to characterize Moroccan culture today.