Lessons I've Learned From The Berber Women of Morocco
- Slow everything.
women do the hard work in the fields. This woman is carrying a heavy load of hay that she has gathered to feed her donkey.2. Find pleasure in work. The work is physically demanding. Women rise at dawn to gather and carry immense loads of wood to burn for cooking and hay to feed the livestock. They fetch water to boil and grind wheat to make bread while also caring for children and elderly family members. If they can, they will earn money by cracking argan nuts and weaving rugs. As a result, women are physically strong and healthy. The work seems to be made easier in the company of other women. I have frequently watched as they gather to crack nuts, laughing loudly, singing and telling stories. 3. Create abundance out of scarcity. They have few material possessions other than what they make from what they have at hand. From this, magnificent rugs are woven, beautiful scarves embroidered and homes embellished with bright colors and intricate symbols. They spend time expressing themselves creatively. 4. Live in harmony with nature, understanding the power of nature to heal and nurture. The Berber women heavily rely on the land and live closely connected to the changing seasons, and the rising and setting of the sun and the moon. They rely on plant knowledge for medicinal remedies. 5. Honor rituals and traditions Traditions are passed down over time, such as story telling and the extraction of argan oil. These traditions connect them to past and future generations. 6. The importance of community The Berber women of the village live in close proximity to each other and are a close knit community, working together, helping to raise each others' children and to care for each other. Isolation in the village would be virtually impossible. 7. Inshallah Like most Moroccans, the Berbers are Sunni Muslim. Among other things, their spirituality offers them a certain alignment to a higher power. The phrase "Inshallah", translated to God willing, is commonly used as a way to express their belief in destiny and acceptance of what comes their way. 8. Celebrate! Each time I have visited, the women of the village have made of point of celebrating with music and dancing well into the night. From what I can gather, these celebrations happen frequently - to mark a wedding, the harvest or the arrival of spring.
The young women of TazghriliteIt would be impossible for an American woman with a husband and three children who runs a business out of a sixth floor Manhattan apartment to replicate the life I've described here, but I try to keep the Berber women in mind as I go about my daily life. I recall them as I stress about politics and deadlines, reacting to a barrage of emails and juggling school, family and work obligations. At the very least, their hard work puts my relatively small problems into perspective. Beyond that, I am reminded to forge deeper connections to community, family, the earth and to honor hard work, creativity, ritual and song.
Celebrating in a Traditional Berber FashionKAHINA™ is my everyday touchstone. All photos were taken during my many trips to the Berber villages of Southwest Morocco.