By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
(Trice Edney Wire) – One of my life’s greatest blessings is the opportunity I’ve had to travel to more than half of the nations in the world. A few days ago, I returned from a storybook trip to Morocco. As with past trips, this experience served to expand my world-view and broaden my perspective of the human condition.
This trip afforded me the unforgettable experience of visiting imperial cities and attending stately events. Conversely, I met Moroccan refugees who, through no fault of their own, were victims of disputes between Spain and Morocco. Most people don’t realize that Morocco and Spain are only separated by nine miles of ocean and that generational conflicts have created the intense disputes that currently exist. Morocco has charged Spanish authorities with mistreating Moroccan citizens.
I was deeply moved by the pain of Moroccans who, leaving family members behind, had escaped from refugee camps. These were men and women whose only crime was the desire to be free of colonial occupying forces. It’s my prayer that these conflicts can be resolved so that the people of both countries can live in peace.
Despite these conflicts, I saw Morocco as a place where I would love to spend an extended visit. The people were wonderful and extraordinarily welcoming to the Black American visitors in our group. Traveling with me were the leaders from COMTO (Julie Cunningham), SCLC (Charles Steele), the National Bar Association ( Alfreida Davis), National Black Chamber of Commerce (Ron Busby) and Black Leadership Forum (Gary Flowers). Singleton McAllister of Williams-Mullen and Mohamed Elhajjam (Moroccan American Network) were our trip leaders.
I was gratified to learn that the recent observance of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington was not lost to the citizens of Morocco. Everyone we met appeared knowledgeable about the work of Dr. King and had kind words to say about him. We were fortunate that Gary had the foresight to bring photographs of Dr. King that our delegation proudly signed.
More than a movie, Casablanca is a real city and so is the famous Rick’s Café, where we took the opportunity to dine. We visited a woman-owned business whose owner was seeking American-made products for her company. Our team welcomed the opportunity to assist her with her purchases. In Rabat, we met with several government officials–Ministers of Interior and Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. We met with the National Human Rights Council, the Royal Advisory Council for Saharan Affairs and others.
From there, we went to Dakhla—a city literally under construction. Observing their investment in infrastructure, I was conflicted by the opposition to President Obama’s similar emphasis. We visited state-of-the-art recreation centers. We met with women leaders and human rights leaders.
From Dakhla, we traveled to Marrakech, and to my surprise, we visited with the city’s mayor–a woman. Women in many of the cities were excited by new rights granted by the King–especially by the fact that women can now file for a divorce! As reactionary politicians wage a War Against Women here in the US, gender equality is among the highest priorities in Morocco.
Similar to other emerging countries on the continent, there is great business opportunity in Morocco and Moroccans eagerly seek Black Americans with whom to partner. Although we were not a trade mission, we left Morocco with business information to share with others upon our return.
One of our final meetings was with a brilliant church leader who emphasized the importance of including the church as a resource in any cooperative effort to achieve universal brother and sisterhood.
The story of Morocco is largely untold and under-appreciated in Black America. Whether for pleasure or to cultivate a business, I encourage your visit to that hidden jewel.
Dr. E. Faye Williams is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women.