of Morocco is a historical book by the German author Adalbert Graf Sternberg,
was published in 1909 by New York; Duffield, and was translated from German
language to English by Ethel peck. The genre of this book is travel writing or
travel literature which is concerned with writing about other people and other
countries, like the westerners writing about some countries in Africa or in the
east. The barbarians of Morocco is an interesting book to be read and
interpreted for its rich content, in which Stenberg describe Morocco and its
people in a very particular time before the French protectorate period in 1912.
Sternberg like many other authors started his book “The
barbarians of Morocco” by talking about some days that he spent in Tunis and
Algiers before heading to Morocco “tangier”
on a ship of a Hungarian company. Then he began to describe tangier for
its appearance from the middle of the sea and from the harbor of tangier as a
beautiful white city. The Hungarian ship docked at the harbor and he started
talking about the treatment of the officialdom at the entrance of the city. As
well as how they walked through ill-paved alleys with no wagons or carriages.
He also described the Sok, how people were spending the day in it selling their
products, purchasing, telling stories. In addition to the Aissaoui and
hamadshas traditions occasionally on the day of Aid al mouled and other feasts.
After that he talked about his meeting with some French and English people and
how they share some pieces of advice about the dangerous way from tangier to
Fes that was almost forbidden for foreign people. In spite of all the bad and
dangerous things that he heard Sternberg and his company Fox-pitt took the risk
and they headed towards Fes. In their way to Fes Sternberg described the vast,
green and empty lands, and their experiences in comping in some villages like
aouladmousa village and how they gave some money to Moroccan people in the
village. For instance, when he said,”It is characteristic of the Moors think no
shame of begging. Even the rich do it” p43.
After a couple of days on their way to Fes from a
village to another, they reached Alcazar elkabir. He described it also as a
beautiful little place with high minarets, and talked about its history. He
talked also about how they took some pictures of some women who were washing.
He said that the women laughed and talked to them very friendly. He added to his
description that the Moorish women were frequently very beautiful.
Anyway, Sternberg and his friend left Alcazar towards
Fes with a letter from Mr.
Carrolton the ruler of Alcazar that will help them to enter the doors of Fes.
Somewhere arounfMekness he mentioned that they met some parties of Aissaoui and
hamadshas with dangerous looking men which force them to keep their eyes on
their dog for fear that the Aissaoui men could eat it up. After a long journey
the saw Fes and he described it from outside as the famous capital of this land
of marvels “Morocco”, surrounded by great walls, and beautiful as the sunshine,
lovely as the sky of Morocco, and as the fairest symbol and monument of the
oriental culture. As soon as they reached the gate, they showed the latter that
they have with them from Mr. Carrolton and they opened for them right away.
After a little while inside Fes, he started describing people for their clothes
and their colored skin. He described the odors also when he said “the odors of
the town were in striking contrast with its beauty.
In Fes, he found so many things to describe far
from the aissaoui and hamadshas and the old traditions and habits of people. In
Fes he observed some political affairs starting from the sultans’s castle to
how the sultan moulay Abdel Aziz used to show himself to people just for times
a year. He described the deputation that was held in the mssalla with the
presence of a crowd of people and authorities and sultan himself. Furthermore,
Sternberg said that at that time two ideas occupied the mind of the Moroccan
people. First one is the hatred of the French and second one is the fear of the
Europeanization taking as an example the experience of Algiers with the French
colonization. He continued by describing how the sultan was not strong enough
politically to govern the country like when he said “everything was in the hand
of Allah”, mohammadian people that were a very religious people which could
never love the followers of other religions. So “the maghzen” exploited people
to enrich themselves because of the pretext that said that in mohammadian world
there is no free-thinkers, and no one could attack the established
institutions. Further in the pages of the book Sternberg stopped to give some
lines about the history of Fes and how the descendants of Edriss were obliged
to leave Mecca after unsuccessful rebellion, so they came to Morocco. At first
they lived in the town of quality. When they outgrew the town, Edriss the
second built a city that should be the capital of Morocco, and this city was
Fes. Then he move back to describe the Arab people, especially men in this case
when he said “gold and good words persuades an Arab to bring his daughter to
see us” portraying the Arab men as they place gold or money over their dignity.
In addition to the supper officer of the Moorish that they was receiving pay
for all ranks from the me