Local Gnawa Musician and Craftsman - Maalem Sedik, Essaouira, Morocco

Local Gnawa Musician and Craftsman - Maalem Sedik, Essaouira (אסואירה ,الصويرة‎, ⵜⴰⵚⵚⵓⵔⵜ, Mogador), Morocco (מרוקו, المغرب‎).


Sitting in his workshop where he builds much sought after gimbris (الكمبري), a string and drum instrument central to Gnawa Music, Maalem [master musician] Seddik remembers not only the time of a vibrant inter-religious community, but also the sad departure of many Jewish families:

"[The Jews] were our neighbors, trustworthy people and they served their country with their heart. They used to like work, craftsmanship and were well behaved. They took good care of their religion and never gave it up. Also they took good care of their Muslim neighbors. They exchanged with Muslims everything they knew and all the know-how they had, especially about commerce and craftsmanship. There was mutual trust among each other, people would even trust their children to each other also to be nursed. And the day they left we all cried, Muslims and Jews alike.

They didn’t and couldn’t just leave; it was really hard on them to leave. They didn’t want to leave their land, people, property, their king, and the place they were born and bred in behind. They left their property including synagogues, Talmud schools and until today they come and take care of their common buildings as well as ask about their old friends and memories. Their grandchildren still come as proof of how Essaouira still lives within them, even in their diaspora. Also when they left they didn’t sell their houses but rather gave the keys to people to live in and guard them in the hope of coming back one day after the conflicts are over. I believe that they were thinking of coming back, because they didn’t sell their property completely, that can only be explained this way that one day their grandsons would come back.

I was working with a jeweler from the Cohen family. I used to do all activities like bringing him the molds from the different craftsmen with whom we used to work and I learned a lot from him. Truth be said, he took good care of me and considered me a son of his own. He was a music fan and it was at his shop, that I gained interest in Music. Also his door was always open to me and all other people, unlike today, now we are adding doors and chains to doors. We miss the peace of those days when we didn’t have to lock the door.”

Essaouira, Morocco

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