None of my travels had prepared me for the bare reality of the kind of poverty that exists in this third world
country. I have seen poor people all over the world, from Hispaniola to South Africa; but the 'so called' Westernized Islamic
country of Morocco defies description. The ancient capital of Fes has a world renowned commerce center called 'The Medina'.
The shops, streets and activities have not changed much in a thousand years. Donkeys bare the burden of transporting goods
and command the narrow alleys. Open sewers exist along side food bazaars. The stench of decay and disease fouls the air, as
only a dim ray of sun reaches the pavements. This past week was the 'Feast of the Lamb'. Morocco alone will require more than
a years production of New Zealand sheep for this ceremony. They will slit the throats of these lambs and let their blood flow
in the gutters of the Media streets. Wading through this carnage is like entering the corridors of Hades.
UNESCO declared the entire city of Fes to be a World Heritage Site. The hygiene conditions of this cesspool
of human degradation risks even the most healthy of visitors. The willingness of inhabitants to accept these conditions is
beyond comprehension and astounds the most rudimentary canons of common sense. The concept of wiping paper is absent in this
culture of historic significance. And the UN desires to impose a universal tax on all currency transactions, that estimates
claim will raise one and a half TRILLION dollars a year! Who among us can question the wisdom of their preservation projects?
Marrakech features a world renowned hotel that catered to the likes of Winston Churchill and Edith Wharton,
while the near by Djemaa el Fnaa square features cobra's charmed by music as monkeys jump frantically in a futile attempt
to break their chains. Charges are demanded for any pictures or photos, with the perpetual hand out for money. The song should
have said that this is one 'Marrakech Express', that can be missed . . . Rabat and Casablanca boasts of the only four lane
highway that serves the commutes of government officials between the capital and its most populated city. The majesty of the
Mosque Hassan II rests upon the Atlantic at a cost of $500,000,000, with view of one of the private homes of the Saudi King.
What does he know that we don't? Tangiers once a past resort of the jet set, the likes of Malcolm Forbes, that has long gone
to more fertile pastures. And all the time you hear the call to pray, five times everyday, from the loudspeakers from the
During colonial days, the French and Spanish brought order and development to a Saadien culture that resisted
most change. It has become doctrine to condemn that era, as a tragic time for the African Continent. Well, this example of
a Western Islamic country is a far cry of the glory days of Arab culture. The French left a legacy of the 'Croissant'. It
may be the only vestige of civilized life that still remains. Contrast this with the methods of the official government sponsored
'Rug Peddler'. That bargain Berber rug was but a mirage, for it would not be sold for the stated price. Only the best will
do for such honored guests, at a price that would secure many camels. The middleman in this transaction system, is an entire
village. Maybe this is the real meaning of how the children need to be raised?
The only visible symbol of modern technology is the satellite dish that is so pervasive on most buildings.
Only the trash of plastic refuge, bottles and bag are more prevalent. The extent of hope may rest upon the images and information
that this global media exchange may inspire. But CNN International is the main source for Western ideas. How encouraged can
we be? Where the BBC is available, you have adult XXX channels to compete for attention. No wonder so many are skeptical of
Western virtue! As the commercial states: "You are what you know", is a call for interaction with the rest of the world. If
you advocate that contact and fair trade is a goal that we all should seek, as I do; then how can we encourage a cordial meeting
of such vastly different cultures? Respect for the traditions of indigent peoples require that they respect themselves, first.
With the absence of the most minimal standards of humanized conduct, who is at blame? Is this a genetic inevitability or is
it a failure of the cultural norms? We were all taught that 'Cultural Relativity' meant that we must judge foreign cultures
from the viewpoint of their traditions, and not to impose Western arrogant notions of superiority. Well, 'Virginia', rethink
This criticism is not a condemnation of the Islamic faith or the teachings in the Koran. If the Haijj, is
one of the five requirements of fulfilling this religion, so be it. But does that mean that so many need to perish under the
trampling feet of their fellow believers, every year? I think not. As long as the disparity between the wealth in the Moslem
world is so distorted, the poor will never enter into a middle class, that is virtually non existent. With this being today's
reality, what is the value in the UNESCO Project? Who's interest is being served, the Arab culture or the political elite's
that rule over an ignorant society that willingly accept their own poverty. Does the elaborate Mosque Hassan II serve Allah,
or would healthy drinking water have been a better use of half a billion? The idea of a holy war, or Jihad, is heard often
in the press. Could it be that the attraction for accepting such a course stems out of the hopelessness of their current condition?
But to blame the West for the failures and greed of their own leaders, is erroneous. Maybe its time, once again, to call in
the Foreign Legion! The UN or Ted Turner aren't the answer. Nor is the acceptance of present state of cultural genocide, that
just breeds another generation and condemns them to a life of the same kind of poverty. Dignity in yourself creates motivation
to alter your plight. When will the programming from the birds in the sky relate that message? It's the best prospect to 'Know
that which is worth knowing', that will offer the best chance to bring hope.
My last visit to Africa was over twenty years ago. Then, my promise to myself was to someday return. At that
time South Africa was part of the first world. This is no longer the case. Now the Dark Continent has reappeared just like
the sands of the Sahara has made extinct the cultural center of Timbuktu. Morocco needs to bake more French Bread and pick
up their garbage. But will their culture allow this choice to be made or will their future be that of the rest of the Aids
plagued nations? My best advise, don't drink the water . . . this well is poison.
SARTRE - March 9, 2001