Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco find hope in art and performance

By Robert Dozier

RABAT, Morocco – Jackie Zappa, is an artist from the Ivory Coast — one of an estimated 30 thousand migrants from Sub Saharan Africa. A painter and sculptor, Zappa says he lived in Tunisia and Algeria but his art was not appreciated in those countries.  Communities of migrant artists, musicians and performers are flourishing in Rabat and Casablanca.

“Morocco is the only place in Africa where I can improve my talent,” said Zappa.

Last year alone, more than one million people migrated to Europe, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, according to the International Organization for Migration. 

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Challenging Illiteracy in Morocco, a Bookseller Pursues Paradise

By Hannah Rehak

Photographs by Will Matsuda

RABAT, Morocco – Magazines spill out onto a busy street and blue painted shutters stretch open, exposing Aziz Muhammed sitting on a dusty pillow. As always, he is reading, eyes focused on an orange-bound book, spectacles resting on his prominent nose. Though tucked away behind the work of hundreds of authors, Muhammed is known throughout the medina, the oldest part of Rabat, for his unique aesthetic. He is a 66-year-old bouquiniste, a proud bookseller, in a country with an adult literacy rate of approximately 67 percent.

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Café El-Griny

By Lauren Kopchik

Photographs by Rachel Woolf

RABAT, Morocco — On a lazy Sunday afternoon, El-Ayadi El-Griny sits in a dimly lit garage watching the people of Rabat stroll along Lalou Avenue. They walk past hole-in-the-wall shops like his that surround the old medina marketplace, with its narrow streets and close-knit neighborhoods, without casting a second glance.

El-Griny, 39, makes a comfortable seat using plastic bags filled with the only product he sells: wool. It surrounds him, with overstuffed bags filling the corners of his shop and excess white and blue fabric spilling onto the floor.  

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