1. Woman from the Ahidous music tradition of the Amazigh people; 2. Ahidous performance ensemble.

aura-sm-square-author By Thomas Duncan

M’hamid el Ghizlane is a small, rural community that holds traditional values within Morocco. The cultural wealth here far exceeds the economic opportunities available. Leveraging this cultural wealth in the right way can open doors to youth, community, and gender development, and even create currently unavailable opportunities as well.

1. Woman from the Chamra music tradition of the Aarib people; 2. Female dancer during Chamra performance during celebration in M’hamid el Ghizlane

At Joudour Sahara, female youth participation since 2016 has ebbed and flowed. Sustaining consistent participation among girls has been a challenge but remains one of our primary goals. Over time, we realized that a pathway to increase this participation was through implementing more traditional music and dance activities, where female participation is already normalized. In the traditional music styles Chamra and Ahidous, females sing and dance alongside men. These heritages are centuries old, but with climate change, lack of job opportunities, and minimal access to water, these heritages are dying. Promoting their revival, and organizing inter-generational traditional music transmission has been a major focus of ours over the last two years.

This focus has borne great fruit. We’ve not only been able to implement sustained traditional music activities, but importantly been able to identify female leaders in the community who we have now brought onto the Joudour Sahara staff. With female leadership comes girls’ participation. It is a way to let community parents know that their daughters have a safe and empathetic space to express themselves creatively. It has also opened opportunities for youth (boys and girls) at Joudour Sahara to participate in events outside of M’hamid, such as in the capital city of Rabat at the Visa For Music showcase or at a youth festival mostly recently in the provincial capital of Zagora.

1.Aicha Zahaf, Music Coordinator at Joudour Sahara; 2. Female youth at Joudour Sahara dressed in traditional attire

Sustaining these activities and participation is one of our goals through 2020. Joudour Sahara is still a young organization at only 4 years old, and maintaining consistency across programming and consistent leadership is key to sustainable development and expansion moving into the future. Our path forward is clear, and now with staff members Aicha Zahaf (pictured) and Safae Radouani, we have the right community leaders to move forward down that path.