« Mnin ntina? ” (” Where do you come from ? “). At each social event, the question arises, inevitably. Often asked by a curious grandmother, she underlines the importance of regional affiliation in Morocco, where inquiring about the origins of an interlocutor is not insignificant.
Between the Berbers, the Arabs and the Arabized Berbers of the plains, there is the special case of the Fassis. The great families of Fez have long been a form of political, economic and intellectual aristocracy. These dynasties are divided into three groups : Arabs, Andalusians and Jews converted to Islam. All trace their lineage back to the founding of the city by Moulay Idriss I, the first king of Morocco, at the end of the 8th century.
Morocco: Fez the Andalusian
Another “cult expression”: “ Fassi awla qadi haja ? (“Are you Fassi, or one of those who render services?”) symbolizes the irrepressible feeling of superiority of the Fassi. It is still necessary to specify who is a “real Fassi” today: not the inhabitant of Fez, but the one who belongs to a dynasty of notables of the city.
Armature du Makhzen
“I am from the third generation of Fassis from Casablanca, proudly explains Kenza Berrada, 23. But I consider myself more Fez than a current inhabitant of Fez who does not have my origins. It’s in my DNA,” adds the young woman, whose four grandparents are impeccable Fassis.
Even if this hierarchical conception becomes less significant among young people, inter-self, which makes it possible to consolidate alliances and to faire growing the family capital remains the rule.
Common point between these families: they have always gravitated around power. Warlords, privileged servants of the seraglio, great scholars… They form the backbone of the Makhzen. Some turned successfully to international trade, such as the Benjellouns, who became bankers.
Travel – Morocco: in Fez, the garden of delights
Others have invested in the religious field, such as the Skalli, who have their own zaouia and have acquired undeniable legitimacy in the cultural field.
In the 19th century, a large part of Ahl Fâs [les gens de Fès] migrates to Casablanca, which has become the economic capital of Morocco. The city of origin was then deserted by its best-known families, while a new population, coming from the rural world, settled there. From now on, the deserted riads and the unsafe streets bear witness to the decline of ancient Fez, contrasting with the prestige still attached to the city and its illustrious houses.
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Morocco: is there more Fassi than an El Fassi?