from Davis, S.S., & Davis, D.A. (1989). Adolescence in a Moroccan town: Making social sense. New Brunswick: Rutgers Press.

When Rashid was young he sometimes used to follow the route the older boys took past the edge of town to the hillside. If he climbed all the way to the top of the hill he could see many kilometers in all directions. Behind him to the west was the hilly land on which his father had spent his youth in a douar, a small village of adobe houses and tents belonging to the Oulad Tadla, his kin group. Usually, though, Rashid looked the other way, toward today's Zawiya. It was nice to be several hundred meters from the dust and noise of the neighborhood, and as he looked across town he could see the green roof of the mosque and the facing hills across the road. He had not been inside the mosque since the night before he was circumcised several years ago, but now that he was starting to fast Ramadan he imagined sometimes going to Friday prayers as well. Sometimes a train would come whistling out of the tunnel at Bab Tisra and move smoothly along the line beside the road a kilometer away, and he liked to imagine that he was on it, headed for Casablanca. He'd heard his cousin say Casablanca was bigger than most of the cities in France. From there you could fly to Europe or America.

Usually, there were girls at the watertap at the foot of the hill, and he wondered what the young men who hung around nearby found so interesting about them. Groups of older boys often walked out toward the fields beyond town, smoking and talking. Once in a while toward evening he would see a young man and a girl in her late teens silently passing on the path at the bottom of the hill, and he'd heard kids say they'd seen a couple sitting and kissing just after dark.

His father did not like him wandering off alone, so Rashid kept a lookout when it got close to time for Qaddour to return from work. If Rashid got home just before dinner there wouldn't be too many questions about his schoolwork, and he might get to follow Hafid, his teenage brother, into his room and hear some music on the cassette machine his father had brought back from his year working abroad. Hafid liked European popular music and reggae and even understood some of the words about love, and Rashid was beginning to think how nice it would be if Hafid moved out after high school and he got the room.

The afternoon breeze smelled so good coming up from the orchards. Someday he'd have a house in the country with a balcony looking over an orange grove; someday when he was an engineer, or maybe a high school teacher.

Rashid was eighteen in 1982, when he helped us understand the feelings and activities of young people in his neighborhood, no longer a boy but not quite a man.[1] He liked to talk about how his feelings and his understanding had grown from the time described, when he was just a kid. He recalled his dreams and plans in one of the hundreds of conversations we had about adolescence in this Moroccan town. His generation of youth in "Zawiya,"[2] on the western edge of North Africa, are the subject of this book. (Davis & Davis, 1989, pp. 1-2)

And in a concluding, unpublished section:

The parting glimpse

It is a sunny winter morning, but Zenkat Filistin is muddy and deeply furrowed from recent rains. We draw curious glances from a group of small children playing marbles at the edge of the open space to the left, where chickens and a goat are picking through the refuse accumulated since the area was cleared for the saint's festival several months previously. Four elderly men are squatting in the sun along a wall where we turn onto Zenkat Razi, and one of them waves to us. We draw a half-smile from a shopkeeper as we make our descent toward the Suiqa, and a teenage girl leans from her roof as we pass to shout "Susan!" There are a few shoppers in the suiqa, and we step aside to allow a young man to pass with his oil-drum-laden donkey, enroute back to the river for another load of water. As we wait for a taxi at the foot of town, we see a large group of ten-year-olds with books ahead and realize shifts have changed at the elementary school. They part to allow the taxi to pass.

As we turn for a last look at Zawiya, the mosque of the saint catches the morning sun. One lone young man is sitting on the bank of the river, looking out toward the road and the train tracks leading to the rest of the world. Zawiya seems at this moment the quintessence of Morocco: her wheat sprouting in the far fields in hope of further rains, her traditional buildings recalling a rich and still vital culture, her children hiking hopefully to school and the future.


[1]Like the rest of the proper names used for residents of Zawiya referred to in this book, "Rashid" is a pseudonym, in this case for a young man who was a high school student at the time he told of his pre-adolescent reveries on the hillside. We have known him since he was a small boy [1982-1971].

In April, 1995, while returning from a visit with his family in Zawiya to his work-place south of Rabat, this young man was killed in an automobile crash. He is mourned by his family in Zawiya, by his many Moroccan friends, and by the Americans to whom for so long he has been like a favorite nephew.

May God be merciful.

[2]"Zawiya" and "Kabar" are locally used terms for the two communities referred to throughout this volume, and we have adopted them rather than the official names of the towns.

Zawiya: The Photo Album (Haverford access only)

These notes and Web resources are copyright (c)1996 by Douglas A. Davis. All rights reserved.