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1920’s Morocco: The Great Depression

a century of moroccan eating
Although the Great Depression didn’t reverberate around the world until the very late 1920’s, this was not an easy decade in Morocco.  In the first six years of the decade the Rif Wars raged between Berber nationalists and Spanish imperialists. Known as the Second Moroccan War these battles raged from 1920-1926.  By 1924 the French also got involved to put down the rebellion. Several thousand Moroccans, Spanish and French lost their lives and in the end the the Rifian forces gave up due to the superior technology and manpower of the foreign forces.
Moroccans during this decade lived virtually the same as they had for the decades previous.  While the French and Spanish built up the country, they did so to better lives for themselves with little concern given to native Moroccans. Estimates state that the French living in the country were making 8x’s the amount of money as a Moroccan. It was also during this time that wealthy Europeans and even Americans began to visit North Africa as the “exotic” Africa.
In 1925 the Marriage of King Mohammed 5 took place.  This vintage video shows some of the ceremony.

This next video is a newsreel from the 1930’s.  It is classic orientalist narration which is a bit hard to listen to.  All of the 1920’s footage is without sound so I’m sharing this one.  Around the 4 minute mark they show the “native quarter”.  I enjoy the peek into the past but didn’t enjoy the narrator!
Now my very favorite video find while doing research was this Great Depression Cooking video.  I know the recipe is from Tunisia but it’s not far removed from the Moroccan version and I love the story 94 year old Clara tells about her father! I’d imagine that this dish is something that might have been on a table in the 1920’s in Morocco.  It’s only vegetables and couscous, simple and low cost ingredients.

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Saturday 14th of April 2012

Thanks for these. I love the 1930's video - particularly the commentary. It's so condescending but good for a laugh.


Saturday 7th of April 2012

unfortunately stereotypes and lack of understanding is still prevalent today when analyzing the Middle-East; love the post and the videos. Clara is such a trip!