It really shocked me just how hard it is for the sub-Saharan Africans to fit into the Moroccan society. As Beni describes, “We have to live in the forest like animals because the Moroccans don’t want us living beside them. They don’t want to see us in their towns, and when they do, they throw rocks at us and shout ‘Azzi!’” Azzi is a racial slur sometimes hurled at sub-Saharan Africans.” At the same time, as much as I hate to admit it Moroccans do tend to be racist, hence the use of the racial slur “Azzi” which I’m familiar with. I think this goes back to that entire notion of just how North Africa is usually separated from the rest of the African continent and to a certain extent not considered part of Africa, not only due to cultural differences but also due to skin color.
Another relatable word was “Hrig,” the Moroccan Arabic term for “illegal immigration,” that translates to “burning.” I am also familiar with the word but more in terms of describing Moroccans that flee the country to go to Europe. I never really knew its true significance and why burning in particular to describe the process but now I know. It makes total sense now to think of it as burning one’s ID in order to avoid being taken back by the EU authorities but also burning one’s past identity for a brighter and better future abroad.
One particular line that struck me was the following, “I can’t go to the police when I’m cheated or attacked. If I present a problem, then I am the problem.” This really made me realize how difficult the situation for these migrants is as they their rights as humans are being violated and they cant even do anything about it, as they would be considered the cause of the issue no matter what. On the other hand, I really admire their determination and hope to not give up as marked by the following quote, “We will make it to Europe or we will die trying. There is no other way home for us now.” Yet, one should not forget that they don’t really have a choice as in most cases their real home has nothing left to offer, thus nothing to lose and take the risk. It’s all or nothing. “I had no one left at home to protect.” I can’t imagine the struggle to of the integration process for Sub-Saharan Africans into the society as the Moroccan society itself is going through so much turmoil, especially with regards to economic hardship. Not to be bias but Moroccans themselves are also struggling to make a living and a lot of the majority also live in poverty.
Another thing that I could really relate to especially as a Moroccan was the discussion about opportunities with regards to one’s nationality and how they impact one’s ability to move and travel. It truly is a disadvantage in a sense like the amount of times I wish I had double nationality just for the sake of being able to travel without having to apply for a visa is crazy. Not to mention, when we do get the visa, its limited to such a short time period simply due to the fact that we are Moroccan, African and Muslim. Thus, I strongly agree with the existing “correlation between opportunities for social and economic mobility within one’s own country, and the opportunity for mobility to more economically prosperous countries”.
At the end of the article, Beni described Morocco as a place that could be called purgatory but then said, “We call it hell. We’re all trapped here waiting in hell.” This really hit home as my home country is literally described as hell, it is so hard for me to imagine as I grew up there an
d know the people. I never thought my home country could be so cruel to others and disregard them I mean we are all African in the end and should help each other as opposed to fight one another. It also important to note just how Morocco is made to be this “disposal” or landfill space for Spain and the EU and is completely taken advantage of and I just hate that!