Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Every picture tells a story


Eight years ago I was among the first to highlight the imminent technology-driven demise of the traditional halakis - storytellers - in the famous Djemaa el Fna public space in Marrakech, Morocco. Since then others have paid homage to the dying oral art of the halakis, including Richard Hamilton whose excellent book The Last Storytellers documents some of the stories they tell. When I revisited Marrakech a few weeks ago I was delighted to find that one of the biggest night time crowds in the Djemaa el Fna was gathered around a young storyteller. This was a story worth sharing. So standing at the back of the audience I took out my camera to discretely - no flash - snatch the photograph seen above. But the halaki saw me out of the corner of his eye, cut off his story in mid sentence, and barged his way through the listeners to thrust his hat in my face and demand money. So the good news is that storytelling is alive and well in Marrakech. But at a price.

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