Morocco: Hospitality and Sharing, two Social Values on the Verge of Extinction
By Omar Bihmidine
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, July 17, 2012
Gone are the golden days when we cooperated with each other and held hospitality in high regard. In my home village, for instance, back in my childhood, I still vividly remember when some rich families frequently invited all the villagers over for lunch, especially after every Friday prayer.
At the time, villagers still vied with each other to host a new visitor at their homes. When a man went jobless, his family sent him to Casablanca to work for one of the rich families originally from the same village. However, as time goes by, these two invaluable social values appear to be on the verge of total extinction if not already absent from our daily lives.
It is crystal clear that people’s greedy passion for money is partly behind the rarity of cooperation. Nowadays, even Moroccan families, Amazigh ones in particular, no longer cooperate with their relatives as they used to do. This is why we find some beggars on the streets who have wealthy relatives.
In Moroccan families, there are countless masons whose cousins are engineers, waiters whose uncles are owners of firms and doctors whose brothers are poor peasants in remote areas. Nobody can deny that this phenomenon is commonplace. What is abnormal about it, for us, is that some of these relatives, poor and rich, do not meet to think of helping each other. All this has, regrettably, led us to lose our sense of cooperation.
Hospitality is facing the same problem. People no longer extend invitations to each other as they used to. When we delve into the reasons behind desisting from this social value, we usually learn that people feel as though they are a burden to each other and go on to decline the invitation. Another common feature of today’s hospitality is that people extending invitations to others do not do so out of sincerity. They invite one another because they feel compelled to, not because they get pleasure from doing so as was the case in the past.
If you happen to interview Moroccans and ask them why they usually decline an invitation even if it is triggered by a true sense of hospitality, they say that they have to offer a gift or buy something on their way and have no choice but to avoid entering, empty-handed. As we know, people inviting others are sometimes curious to know what the invited have brought them. Contrary to the past, Moroccans used to invite each other without even informing beforehand, which makes the act of bringing a gift or something of the sort unnecessary.
Hospitality and cooperation are closely interconnected in several respects. One is that they are first and foremost humane values. Cooperative people are usually found to be hospitable and vice versa. Yet, to our consternation, as the love for standing out in society overcomes the love for helping each other, we turn into limited people who are good only at catering to our parents and children and forget about other relatives. We are also good at inviting only those whom we think will bring us things on their way towards our homes.
In other words, egoism has permeated the values of hospitality and cooperation, particularly that we now look upon these as sources of money. As I have seen in the society, when some of us cooperate, we usually hire a relative or someone else to work for us and exploit him to make our business better. Some poor families here in the south, Souss region, send their daughters to work for rich families and earn money. But, if we think twice about the issue, it turns out that instead of cooperating with each other and finding noble jobs for one another, we unfortunately choose to exploit each other for the sake of our benefit.
Hospitality as an indispensable value too has lost its true sense and goes on to mean something totally different than that of past times: inviting, not for the sake of hospitality, but for the sake of benefit. So, how come it is common that people decline and doubt each other’s invitations? How come people no longer invite their closest relatives, let alone other people? How come people no longer cooperate, and when they happen to do so, it turns out that it is a means to an end? I do no think that an answer to these queries can be more convincing than that hospitality has lost its true value in our society.
Nearly the same thing is true of cooperation. Rich families hesitate to assist their poor relatives in building their future for fear that there will come a day when the latter will become as rich as the former. Cooperation of the past was selfless, while that of today has grown egoistic. It is here exactly where hospitality and cooperation fall in the same abyss: the lost values of our Moroccan society.
Edited by Benjamin Villanti
Source: Morocco World News