Why would an Ivorian like me choose to live in Morocco? It wasn’t my first choice, but my parents imposed it on me. Morocco has a university hub that has many interesting courses on the West. For this reason you can find a lot of Africans of different nationalities here, especially in the capital, Casablanca. Most importantly, Ivorians can come to Morocco without a visa.
I grew up in a normal family and enjoyed a happy childhood in my country. After my secondary education, I wanted an adventure outside of my cozy familial setting. I loved the idea of travelling, although I had never left my country of birth. I wanted to see the world and other cultures, so the minute I had the chance to leave, I left. My parents always taught me respect, a sense of responsibility, and trust and knowledge in God (because I am Christian). Armed with this confidence, they trusted me to leave my own country for a place where I knew no one.
Morocco is a very beautiful country. If I had to describe it in three words, I would say “beautiful,” for its magnificent and varied scenery, “cultural wealth,” and “development” in terms of infrastructure.
When I told my close friends and family that I had chosen Morocco, they were apprehensive. They warned me to be careful when I got there because the country has a reputation for racism. I stayed optimistic and decided to discover what it was like for myself; however, I still remained cautious.
It is clear that racism is very real in Morocco. I lived and was a witness to many racist acts, both insults and physical abuse that offended my African identity as well as my humanity. That being said, I do not put all Moroccans in the same basket—not all Moroccans are racist. I have made Moroccan friends at my university and have met other people like faculty members and my landlady, for example, who have been kind.
However, in smaller towns, certain parts of the population still have a closed mentality. I was also surprised to find that Moroccans do not consider themselves African. For a certain portion of the population, I think it is actually ignorance and for the other part, it is a combination of the fact that Morocco is part of the Maghreb and so they completely forget that we are all from the same African continent. Several times, I have had to correct Moroccans in taxis, in the market, and even in class on this mistake.
In regards to language, Morocco is a popular tourist destination, so French or English is spoken in public, however, most Moroccans speak Arabic. It was difficult for me to integrate because I’m introverted, but also because of bad experiences I had, which made me retreat even more. Therefore, I haven’t really learned Arabic, just a few common words.
I am a blogger who mainly focuses on beauty. I have noticed that the omnipresence of Eurocentric standards of beauty is universal. You’ll find that whether one is in Sub-Saharan Africa or North Africa, women still follow European standards of beauty like straighter hair and lighter skin, but this is changing especially in West Africa with the return of natural hair.
I find that Moroccan society is stricter on women than Ivorian society. For example, during Ramada, in the city of Agadir, people chased two young women, who were later arrested by the police. They were tried for wearing miniskirts, but found “not guilty.” As Morocco is a Muslim country, Islam plays a role in dictating rules and customs, which I completely respect. Nevertheless, despite being decently dressed, women are always harassed in the streets and are at times injured. In my case, this happens to me all the time. There is always this sense of insecurity that hangs over me every time I leave my house, which is a pity. Women should be treated with more respect.
Living in Morocco has made me more aware of my African-ness, my love of country, and my roots. I am even more proud to be a black woman, to proudly wear my afro and African print clothing in the streets despite receiving strange looks from critics or being mocked. At any given opportunity, I promote my culture and country despite any looks I may receive. I believe that to never forget who I am so that I know where I am going is very important.