The last Nomads in Morocco
Nomadism is known in the history of many nations. It is a lifestyle that has been ended in some countries, while still existing in others. In Morocco, however, the development of the country is, the Nomad lifestyle still exists. The last Nomads in Morocco still live the same as old-time. The same way of life as their ancestors 100 years ago. They move from one region to another with the herd, looking for the best pastures and weather that suits both of them. These two elements still oblige these small communities to live in the wild of the Atlas mountains, to do the Nomad transhumance, and to continue what they believe is a form of freedom.
Due to the drought and the development of the world around them, Nomads of Morocco become less and less every single year, some tribes Like Ait Atta in the Atlas mountains use to be 500 families 50 years ago, while only about 50 exercise the nomadism nowadays. semi-nomads choose to continue the same lifestyle but to settle in a tent or a cave, with no more movements, while some settled in the valleys and villages to exercise agriculture or any other jobs available.
The Amazigh nomads who are over 90% follow the Muslim religion in a very personal way. They celebrate the religious holidays, following the other Muslim duties, without any separation from their culture or the unique language that they keep the most.
Where do Moroccan nomads live?
Since Morocco is a tribunal system just 50 years ago. Every tribe has its own land and pastures, where they move from one season to another, looking for better herbs for their herd, and water. Most of the nomads live in the Atlas mountains in a goat-hair tent, such as in the case of the Ait Atta tribe. The main income would be goats and often a few camels. Ait Atta originally lives in Jbel Saghro mountain, their homeland, although they have their pastures in the High Atlas, where they move in the summer month. Every May, The families with their goats and camel would take over 15 days of journey walking from the Saghro mountains to the High Atlas. By the beginning of the first snow, they would do the same trip back to their homeland in the Saghro mountains.
Nomads live also in the Sahara desert of Morocco, in small communities, often far from each other. They live in harmony with the harsh environment of the Sahara. Nomads of the Sahara live in different areas, around Erg Chebbi dunes, you still can observe such a lifestyle as well as the surrounding of Erg Chegaga and the western Sahara in big numbers. This way of nomadism is the same as Touareg nomads in the north of Mali.
Some nomads in Morocco lives also in caves, their movement used to be from one cave to another. For the same reasons as the other nomads. Most of the families who live in a Cave can be seen in the region of Boutghrar, Dades Valley, and around Todgha Gorges. Semi nomadism luckily is the name we can call this lifestyle that still keeps animals as the main source of living.
The life of nomads in the wild under tents or inside the caves is definitely a harsh lifestyle, In this case, it’s not always nomads who choose their way of living, but often it’s the other way around.
Where they get food and daily supplies:
In every region, nomads have their main Souk Market where they get the supplies for a week or two weeks. Nkob Village as an example remains the principal market from where all the nomads in Jbel Saghro get their food and also the main market where they sell their goats. In this village, every Saturday there is an opportunity to find nomads in the market of goats. Souk or weekly markets play an important role in the nomad’s life, not only to sell and buy but also to visit their relative families and get updated news as most nomads live in the wild.
Local transportation is available in most regions for the nomads to the market, The same local transport is usually provided to take their goats to the souk. Often Nomads travel on the back of their mule to get to the market and back to the camp the next day same as centuries ago. This weekly travel for a number of the family is the only way to involve in society.
What do the nomads in Morocco wear?
Depending on the mountain region, the Nomads of Morocco wear slightly the same clothes. Tajellabiyt or Jellaba is still one of the main clothing. Either in the mountains or the desert, The scarf or Shesh is very important, to protect both men and women from the heat of summer and the cold of winter.
In some Saharian regions, nomads wear Draia, which is a blue full dress that covers the whole body the same as Jellaba. This type of clothing is believed to be originated from Touareg nomads, Who are living in different southern countries such as Mali, and South Algeria.
Women in the nomad’s lifestyle:
A woman in the nomad’s society is a noble queen, She struggles with her family in everyday life. In addition to taking care of the camp and children, women do any activity that men do. Although the rule of women varied from one tribe to another and one clan to another.
The woman is the artist in the Amazigh culture same as with all Berber nomads in Morocco, not just in playing with the colors of the Henna during every special event, but also in making carpets, blankets, and the tent that protect her family from this harsh life in the wild.
Tattoos remain an art that Amazigh nomad women do for centuries. You can Notice Tattoos On their faces, and on their hands. Due to religious and cultural influences, this act is rare at the moment among the new generations.
Souk and other traveling reasons usually are the job of the father or the husband. Since it used to be a dangerous adventure back in time when there is a lot of conflicts between tribes. Therefore To keep women and children safe means usually staying around the tribe territory, where the tribe is settled for the season.
Nomads daily life:
Young kids usually stay in the camp with an adult, Who would take care of them and do some camp work such as bringing water nearby. Women would work in preparing the camp, bringing wood for the fire, or often grazing the goat the whole day. Bringing the water from a source or a well is a daily job, that someone in the family does, the same as grazing the goats. These two activities are a daily concern of everyone in the nomad family.
Weekly men would travel to the market to bring the supplies, or to sell goats. While women take care of everything in the camp.
Daily life activities are also depending on the season. As we notice there is always something to do for everyone from the sunrise to the night. The beauty of the landscape and the calm of the camp are always chilling environments for any visitor.
Education for the nomads:
An education for nomad children almost means changing their lifestyle. In most of the regions where nomads live, school is far and a privilege for those who have a number of lives in a village. That gives more of a chance for the kids to go to school, which Makes it hard for the parents and their lifestyle at the same time. It is hard for the family to put away their kids.
Once children are educated, Can they support continuing the nomadic lifestyle? certainly, it is one of the challenges that nomads have!
Living in the wild would make it very hard for the nomad kids to get an education. Some associations would take the lead and help to build a tent school for the nomads in some regions, Although this effort may get harder or vanish by the challenge of providing a teacher that can follow the nomads wherever they move. Especially when the number of families reduces year after another.
How does tourism help the nomads in Morocco?
Trekking in Morocco mountains helped the nomads to connect with the other world, providing their mules to carry tourist luggage. Nomads start to get involved in mountain tourism since they are the best guides in these wild terrains. In addition to mountain holidays, trekking in the Sahara offered opportunities to Nomads to be a part of the caravans of camel trekking to allow travelers to discover the hidden parts of the Sahara.
Some traveling companies such as Adrar Travel offers some unique experiences to get in touch with Nomad’s lifestyle, a homestay in the High Atlas as well as walking with nomads during their transhumance journeys, This type of cultural vacation in Morocco helped a lot of nomads to provide a better life for their families and to continue the lifestyle of nomadism which is in the way of disappearance.