In Times of Madness

I was in my kitchen this afternoon, stuffing a whole chicken with thyme and onion, when I learned there had been a bombing in Marrakesh, about a four-hour drive from our apartment in Casablanca.   The news was pretty shocking to both Me and Max as our expectations of Casablanca did not really include events like this.  Sure, it’s always a possibility when you live in the Middle East (or anywhere with a history of bombing) but after Jerusalem we felt a bit like we’d be cooling down on the edge of the Atlantic for a while.

When there was a bombing a few weeks ago in Jerusalem my heart instantly dropped out of my chest and I emailed everyone I knew who was still there.  When I first heard the news about the bombing in Marrakesh I didn’t know how to process it.  Unfortunately Jerusalem is a tense place where awful things like this happen and you learn from people who have lived there to grieve, help where you can, and then brush the dust from your shoulder and go about your life.   But what is the protocol here?  A bombing like this hasn’t happened here for over eight years and I just wasn’t sure how Moroccans dealt with these kinds of events or how I should deal with them as a new comer.     

Fast forward about four hours where Max and I attended a screening for a film called “All I Wanna Do” about a father and son duo from Casablanca who are aspiring hip hop artists.  The documentary follows a parking attendant and his 17 year old son as they set about to record their first hip hop album together, get it aired on local radio stations, meet their respective musical heroes and achieve their dreams.  Even though the film was in Arabic with French subtitles (neither of which I understood very much of) I was moved to employ the “think of dirty toilets” tear stopper trick that my mother in law taught me several times. 

17 year old Ayoub and his father Simohamed were jubilant and irrepressible as they battled their modest circumstances and Ayoub’s would be disability of having only one leg.  I couldn’t get over the extent to which they believed in and pursued their dreams- unashamedly and joyfully. 

When they turned the lights on after the show all of the heads swung around to a row of people on my right and everyone started clapping.  The show’s creator and its real life heroes were in attendance.  They were brought down to the front of the auditorium where people in the audience made comments and asked questions.  One outspoken viewer from the back, not waiting for the microphone to be passed to him, hollered something to this effect

“You are the pride of our country.  You give the young people hope Ayoub.”

Unfortunately there have been attacks in Morocco before and life is not easy for its many impoverished citizens.   But stories like Ayoub and his Father’s helped me know better how to process terrible events like what happened in Marrakesh today.  Moroccans have hope.  People of the Middle East have hope.  They work hard and aim high so that their children might inhabit better, more peaceful worlds.  I shall do the same.     

*If you are interested in the film, and you should be, you can watch the trailer below.   The film will be showing at film festivals in Miami, DC, New York, Boston and Dubai – if you are in one of those cities I would highly recommend it.  There is also a facebook page for the film.    

Here is a bit from the BBC about the bombing today.  


  1. My instructor is from Morocco so we spent a lot of time today discussing the bombing, which means I thought about you guys all day. I'm glad that you guys are safe.

  2. I was thinking of you guys when I read about the bombing. That has to be unnerving. Hang in there. The film screening sounds so cool though.