Tag Archive for Morocco

Morocco’s Timitar Festival, a favourite of Charity Challenge Team Leader Trevor Gibbs

For more than 4,000 years, the Berbers ruled across the vast landscapes of North Africa. Long before the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, their culture held sway across great swathes of the continent, stretching from the Atlantic coast to the banks of the Niger River. For centuries these ‘Lords of the Atlas’ spread their culture and customs across lands that extended from beyond the deserts of Western Egypt, to the shores of the Mediterranean. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the great Berber dynasties of the Almoravids and the Almohads even extended their power and control into large parts of Spain as well.

With the waning of Berber power and prestige however, these tribal customs fell into decline and Berber culture took a backwards step. Amongst the Arab elite this once proud race came to be considered inferior and their traditions, language and customs retreated into the safety of the imposing peaks of the High Atlas. In recent years though, this rich mix of cultural heritage has enjoyed an astonishing and colourful resurgence, due in no small part to the annual Timitar Festival.

Held in June or July each year, the festival has grown to become one of Africa’s premier music festivals, attracting performers and audiences from across the world to the bustling coastal resort of Agadir. Staged in three open-air venues, the festival is a dazzling fusion of traditional Berber music, modern jazz, hip hop and world renowned performers. Featuring over 40 different artists and attracting close to half a million spectators, the four day festival has become a showcase for Amazigh (Berber) culture in the heart of their traditional homeland.

Considered one of the largest music festivals in the country, this year is the festival’s ninth incarnation and it is expected to provide its audiences with more than 40 free concerts, performed by upwards of 400 artists from as far afield as Iraq, Colombia, Korea and the United States. What defines Timitar from other similar festivals though is its focus on Amazigh culture. Since its inception, it has strived to provide a stage for an event that has its roots firmly entrenched in Souss Massa Drâa tradition, whilst its outlook is most definitely looking towards the future. Add to that an opportunity to escape the oppressive summer heat of the Moroccan interior and a chance to enjoy some of the finest seafood on the Atlantic seaboard, and you have an event that provides a feast for body and soul.

This year’s Timitar Festival takes place from the 27th-30th June.

charity Challenge currently run 3 challenges based in Morcocco, The Sahara Desert Trek, Atlas Mountain Bike challenge and the High Atlas Summit Trek. If you want to learn more about our these challenges and much more, you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all Charity Challenge news, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

And for more of Trevor’s view on the world, check out his blog at:http://alizardwandering.wordpress.com/

Veteran Charity Challenge Team Leader Trevor Gibbs writes about the thrill of Morocco’s Fez Sacred Music festival

Morocco is one of North Africa’s most popular destinations and Fez is probably one of its most fascinating cities. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and the oldest of Morocco’s imperial strongholds, Fez bears the distinction of being the country’s cultural and spiritual capital. This is a city whose rich history is liberally sprinkled with tales of murder and intrigue and whose bustling souks have echoed to the sounds of trade for centuries. What better place then to hold one of the world’s most widely acclaimed musical festivals.

Held in June each year, the Fez Sacred Music Festival is a coming together of some of the world’s most accomplished artists; a place where you can hear Moroccan Sufi chants, Pakistani qawwali and Egyptian madhi poems, set against the backdrop of one of the most complete medieval cities left in the Arab world. Bringing together a rich diversity of musical talent, the festival perfectly encapsulates the long traditions of art, knowledge and spirituality that have been the mainstay of this city for generations. This is the 18th year that the city has held the festival and its theme is ‘Re-enchanting the World’ and pays special tribute to the great Persian poet, Omar Khayyam.

During the eight days of celebration, Fez takes on a carnival atmosphere, offering up free concerts in the expansive setting of the city’s Boujloud Square, as well as ‘Sufi Nights’ in the more spiritual surroundings of the Dar Tazi Gardens, in the centre of the ancient medina. In addition there are also a number of exhibitions to be found throughout the city, highlighting the unique fusion of art and knowledge that has distinguished Fez as one of the Muslim world’s most spiritual settings since the beginning of its golden period during the latter years of the 11th century.

In conjunction with its musical performances, the festival also runs a number of educational and artistic programmes, for adults and children alike.

This year’s festival runs from the 9th-16th June.

charity Challenge currently run 3 challenges based in Morcocco, The Sahara Desert Trek, Atlas Mountain Bike challenge and the High Atlas Summit Trek. If you want to learn more about our these challenges and much more, you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all Charity Challenge news, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.
And for more of Trevor’s view on the world, check out his blog at:

http://alizardwandering.wordpress.com/

Responsible Tourism in Morocco With Charity Challenge

We currently run two challenges in Morocco, The High Atlas Summit Trek and the Sahara desert trek, and it’s a very rare challenger who doesn’t fall in love with the vibrant culture and panoramic landscapes of Morocco. So we wanted to give all our past, present and future Morocco challengers a bit more information as to on where their $20 local community donation goes and what a huge difference it makes.

In Morocco, we give your donations to the wonderful SOS Children’s villages, who help us to make sure the money is channelled to those that really need it; SOS Children cares for vulnerable children affected by poverty, disease, conflict, and natural disasters.  They provide orphans and abandoned children with a loving home and a family for life in their SOS Children’s Villages. They also provide support to families at risk of fragmentation in an effort to reduce instances of child abandonment and neglect.

In Morocco they have a village like this in Ait-Ourir, about 40km from Marrakesh at the foot of the Atlas Mountains, a place we actually drive past when on our way to High Atlas. The village was set up in 1985 to provide help for the communities living in the mountain villages and also from those living in the toughest areas of Marrakech. The village in Ait-Ourir has 14 family houses and provides protection for many orphaned and abandoned children from the area. It is a place where the children never need to fear that they will be thrown out and somewhere where they will receive continued support right the way into their adult lives. One of the most exciting things about the village is that, thanks to donations such as those from our participants, they can also provide the children with an education.

Education is a basic human right, but unfortunately there are still many places where access to education is a privilege – even though education is vital for breaking the vicious circle of poverty and goes hand in hand with development.

An SOS Nursery School and an SOS School also form part of the SOS Children’s Village in Ait Ourir, and are among the reasons why we are so proud of this project. The nursery, as with all SOS Children’s Villages, is also attended by children from the surrounding area, meaning, that those children growing up in the rural villages surrounding Ait Ourir are given a better start in life. In Marrakesh itself, there are also five SOS Youth Homes that are home to the older children, and aids them in making the transition from family life to independence, under the guidance of a youth leader.

We’re very proud to be supporting such a fantastic cause and making a real difference to the lives of many young people in the areas where we trek, and this is something that we couldn’t do without you, our fantastic participants, both past and present. So next time you are out training for your challenge in Morocco, reminiscing with your photo album, or thinking about the amazing funds you raised/are raising for your chosen charity, we hope you will also be proud of and  spare a thought for those in Morocco whose lives you have changed. A huge THANK YOU to you all!

To learn more about all our charity challenges, and find out how else we get involved with responsible tourism. Please visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com, and to keep up to date on all our challenge news, subscribe to this blog by clicking on the orange RSS button, you can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.