By: Bouchra Kachoub*
My flight from Dubai was scheduled to land in Casablanca International Airport at about 2 pm on the 3rd of April. It was delayed for more than half an hour (and it had nothing to do with the less perfect weather we were experiencing); our airplane had to hover over the suburbs of Morocco’s industrial capital to wait for French President Francois Hollande and his girlfriend Valérie Trierweiler, who landed moments earlier, to clear out of the airport.
Casablanca, a city originally known by its Berber (Amazigh) name Anfa (hill in English), was decorated with Moroccan and French flags, movable trees and flashing red carpets. The poor people who stood in roadsides in the rain to salute the Moroccan Monarch and the French President were also part of the scenery. As far as I am concerned, it did not make a lot of sense for the Moroccans to welcome Hollande as throughout the years France has brought nothing but social injustice and a widening of the gap between social strata. If the people were aware of the reality of such visits, they would have emptied the streets and made Casablanca (Spanish for the white house) look like a fictitious ghost dressed in a white sheet.
Yes, I was disappointed, and still am, by the fact that no airplane was allowed to land during the time when Hollande was being received at the tiny Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca. I did/do understand that Hollande is much more important than many of the passengers, whom the majority were Moroccans planning to boost the economy by their holiday spendings and who are constantly invited to visit their motherland. However, as I mentioned earlier, the reception was a little exaggerated. Morocco was trying to please Hollande in order to stand by Morocco in its dispute over the Western Sahara with Algeria.
I suppose, to a degree, the ‘pleasing’ was acceptable. But what my mind cannot accept is how Morocco does not seem to realize that France cannot let Algeria down, its colony for more than a century — and its ally in that both countries have communist mentalities.
Indeed, I posit that the Moroccan government wanted Hollande to express his opinion and assurance towards the Western Sahara, but he remained vague because he could not disappoint Algeria. Hollande’s visit serves France more than Morocco. The French President wanted to verify the current political status of Morocco and ensure that the stability it enjoys is not fake. Moreover, keep Morocco as a follower now that the world is directing itself and interacting more with Anglophone countries for all the economic and technological advancements taking place.
Unfortunately, Morocco is about to enter a dark closed tunnel. For example, many contracts were signed that will trap the slowly growing Morocco. And I am afraid that Morocco will follow France and not the fast growing world where economic competition is a normal right of any citizen. It seems that Morocco remains a colony after 57 years of independence. Many projects are going to be forced on penniless Morocco, similar to what happened with the compellingly sold Casablanca-Tangier TGV project. Are people still not struggling to afford a piece of bread? And is there anyone in a rush to travel to Tangier in the slow growing Morocco?
I have grown seeing Morocco signing many contracts with other countries, but I do not remember any tangible results reaching the people. I have grown to become more convinced that nothing can flourish in sterile Morocco. Hollande’s visit does not give me any hope and does not mean much to me because I know that his body was in Morocco and mind was in France thinking of the mess he left there. If there is something he could do, he would better address issues faced by Muslim immigrants in France and strengthen the importance of personal freedom. How come he is too liberal to have a concubine and not too liberal to let Muslim women wear their scarves? In conclusion, Hollande is not a master and is nothing. He is a mere president following too much protocol and formalities until his term ends.
Bouchra Kachoub is a regular Bokamoso Leadership Forum Contributor. Read her short biography and previous articles here.