The terrible earthquake occurred on Friday night, in the regions near Marrakech. At 11:11 p.m. The tremor was felt even in Fez. I didn’t find out the news until Saturday morning. I immediately contacted my family and friends in Rabat, Salé, Casablanca, Azilal, Marrakech, Agadir. They were OK. Everyone was talking about the endless night of horror they had just experienced. We were very, very afraid. We spent most of that night on the street. On the sidewalks. In the gardens. In solar. In the squares. Next to the traffic lights. We have finally understood what refugees experience on the cold roads of exile. They have nothing but heaven and earth. We felt uprooted in our country. Abandoned. Surrendered to an invisible and very destructive nocturnal power. We are nothing, tiny things on Earth. We are very close to the end. We feel how death is approaching. We cried a lot that night. But we are still here, alive and still afraid.
I felt relieved. Reassured. I conveyed to these loved ones the most loving words and the strongest encouragement I could find in my heart.
Then I started following the news, on television and social networks. Like many people, I wanted to see images of this catastrophe. The consequences. The damages. The tragedies.
I spent all Saturday glued to the screens. And the more I looked, the more and more I felt ashamed of myself. In the end, he was nothing more than an egoist who thinks first and foremost of those close to him, an egoist who cares first and foremost about the people he knows. My family and friends are fine, that’s the only thing that matters. Others? It is always abstract, the others, the unknown.
Only there, in the small videos that circulate on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, we see a naked truth, a terribly overwhelming truth. We see the Morocco of the forgotten who suffer, who fall and who cry incessantly. This terrible earthquake has affected the greater Marrakech, yes, but it has claimed most of its victims in the villages and small towns. Iguil. Moulai Brahim. Amizmiz. And in the surroundings of the town of Taroudant. The images show horrible things: upstream villages completely destroyed, houses collapsed like houses of cards, mosques on the ground, minarets split in two. Footage shows survivors wandering, searching, not knowing what to say, crying and tossing and turning. They hope that the Government and its forces will come to rescue them. To console them. To talk to them. The survivors still have some hope.
On the afternoon of this black Saturday that hope has completely disappeared. Anger increases. We discover the lives and stories of this abandoned Morocco that is located just 100 kilometers from Marrakech and its luxurious palaces. They begin to speak. Something has to come out. A teacher posts this tweet: “All my students are dead.” Another teacher, another tweet: “All my students are dead.” And in a video: a father against the wall; He has just lost his wife and all his children, he wants to scream, he can’t, he wants to talk about the injustice of being a poor person in Morocco, one of those who don’t count in Morocco, he can’t do it, he trembles like a child and ends up shouting: “Aren’t we also part of Morocco?”
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This question is asked with extreme pain, extreme sweetness and extreme helplessness.
This question has bothered many Moroccans. He chases me. Now it’s on everyone’s mind. In all hearts. In all consciences. Like an “I accuse” by Émile Zola. We can no longer pretend that we are unaware of the living conditions of the poorest. The ones to hide. We thought they were too far away. And, instead, we have them very close. In the center of the image and the event. The earthquake brings them to light. In a misery that is shown to the whole world. In videos that travel everywhere. And they make a lot of people cry.
But so far there has been no response from those to whom this question was addressed.
Morocco’s GDP has not stopped growing for several years. But economic growth does not benefit everyone. We knew it. Now, because of this earthquake, we see it, we perfectly understand the exclusion, the marginalization. And it’s unbearable. Untenable.
We feel shame. I feel shame. When I heard the news on Saturday morning, all I thought about was my little world. The lives of others did not count as much as those of my loved ones. I have also contributed to the suffering of poor Morocco. I forgot to immediately think about those who have always been forgotten.
A year and a half ago, in a small town in northern Morocco, little Rayan fell into a well. His tragedy shocked the entire world. His sad fate revealed the hard life and absolute precariousness of the poor in Morocco.
Since Friday night, the terrible earthquake has forced us to look again at this other Morocco plunged into misery. The Morocco that has nothing. Wallou (nothing, in Moroccan dialectal Arabic). But this time we must not settle for superficial solidarity. Now something has to change. The deep gaze of Power on its own citizens.
Abdelá Taia is a writer. His latest novel is Vivir a tu luz (Cabaret Voltaire). Translation of News Clips.
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