Mawssim (season) Fantasia Festival


“One of my best childhood memories was the Mawssim (season) Fantasia Festival. I used to go with my dad to the country side of Larache in the spring to attend one of the most fascinating cultural festival where men would ride Arabian horses very fast at the same speed and shout in synchrony old traditional riffles in the air at the same time and in the same line while professional females dancers performed cultural dances and sing at the same time in two straight lines dancing in front of each others back and forth. After the show finished, they would bring and serve a festive meals in each tent where guests sat around tables on the floor on top of colorful hand made carpets and beautiful pillows.”


This festival has two lines of, I assume, male individuals and two lines of female individuals. The spring time represents rebirth, fertility, and new beginnings. The dances with the race represent this concept, along with a subtle hint of courtship. In addition, this event brings numerous crowds of people from different places. Viewing dance and this festive horse display could facilitate connections with others that otherwise wouldn’t have much in common. After some research, the Fantasia festival represents the connection between masculinity, horses and warfare. It has Amazigh origins of men fighting on the backs of horses. The Amazigh are the indigenous people of Morocco, and they are more largely nomads of North Africa (Algeria, Tunisia etc). My grandpa (Amal’s father) was very proud of his Amazigh heritage, and being a part of the Mesmouda tribe – one of the largest and last tribes in Morocco. They do not have a nation-state but they still do have a sense of collective identity that is more fluid. My family had to convert their last names from Mesmoudi to Abdelkhalek because the government was scared of them overthrowing the Arab ruled government again that is largely Islamic (they do not have a set religion). On numerous occasions they demanded him to say that he is an Arab but he refused. He then said to my mom that even if the King has a sword to your throat and tells you to say that you are someone you are not (Arab), never succumb and be proud of who you are (Amazigh). My mom told me a variation of this without the Arab-Amazigh connotation where it is more like “even if the King has a sword to your throat, always stand up for what is right and what you believe in”. Even though I haven’t participated in any Moroccan festivals, the Amazigh warrior mentality has been passed down to me.