Al Thaqafa Al Maghribia - No 12, July 8, 1938

Said wrote this article, challenging the Moroccan youth to rise up to higher consciousness of their role in modernizing the nation. His zeal and excoriation of the youth generated considerable interest and pique not only from the readers of his weekly cultural magazine but also from closer to home. Ahmed Bennani, a member of the National Movement from the city of Fez whom Said knew since his summer returns from higher education in Syria in the mid 20's, felt unfairly targeted by this editorial. His rebuttal came in the form of an anonymous submission to the weekly included here immediately following Said's article. To better understand the back and forth between them some background information may provide a better appreciation for the circumstances.

Ahmed was invited by Said to join him and his brothers at Said's paternal aunt's home in Salé for an indefinite stay. According to rumors floating around, Ahmed left Fez to cool off after a heated disagreement with his father on the implementation of certain politically oriented reforms. Ahmed felt completely at home in his new surroundings. He participated in family events, attended local meetings of National Movement as well as perused through poems written by Said's eldest brother, a gesture that invited him to regularly use the latter's library, one of the best stocked with literary and human science books in Salé. He became Said's partner on several of his projects including a purchase of 5% of shares in Said's equipment modernization for his printing house. Said surrounded himself with a group of intellectuals along with Ahmed as the editorial board for Al Thaqafa Al Maghribia (The Moroccan Culture) weekly which began circulation in April of 1937. This weekly became a popular forum for young and old, established and rising icons of Moroccan society. Ahmed played a leading role in the conception of new internal editorials, previewing external submissions as well as editing these to meet journalistic standards. Interestingly the board's work was done within the confines of the library belonging to Said's brother and so one can imagine that was the setting which Said's article was subjected to reviews and generated Ahmed's ire and response. Here is Said's opening salvo in its published form:

One can search long and hard in language dictionaries to find an appropriate word to describe the Moroccan youth's pursuit to be tuned into the modern world and to master one of its living languages. One can't find a word or vocable more fitting than the word, "heedless". This generation's group of young people, an umbilical chord linking the decaying Morocco of old to one open for tomorrow's renewal, represent that layer of the population which least understands its role in society. Modern education has encumbered them with a new dose of lethargy and reinforced their inclinations towards seclusion.

But, why go to great lengths to ask the youth to put themselves in the service of their Moroccan society when it hardly serves its own needs to be a component of a vibrant and civilized community that is aware of its rights and obligations? The youth's cultural upbringing, or more accurately their level of instruction, stopped at the school doorstep the moment they walked out.

The so called developed youth of today swear up and down to never go beyond their narrow acquisitions from school. Rare are those amongst this generation of youth who develops interest in scientific thinking or whose acts are predisposed to an enthusiastic elan of creativity in the arts or develops an entrepreneurial spirit in economics. What is even more astonishing is that the vast majority of these youth don't care much for reading; if only to amuse themselves with novels which the French libraries have in abundance. They don't seek to be entertained by plays at theaters. Worse yet they make no effort to read the newspapers to inform themselves of international news and local events so as to be in perfect harmony with their times.

Search and find a group of youth who have jobs in the private or public sector and are happy with their positions. Then try to find one amongst them whose mind is preoccupied by a philosophical idea that he approves or rejects. Find one preoccupied by a social concept he believes is at a level to help the nation or one that at least can not cause its decay. Find another who is haunted by a collection of poems whose verses he orates, reveling in their style of poetic expression, lulled by their rhythm and by the musicality of their stanzas. And then again find one who enjoys a theatrical play through the combination of the ideas it evokes as well as its style and creative imagination. Then the latter group should become part of an orchestrated promotion campaign targeting all Moroccan intellectuals to wage against their unmindful lethargy and heedless carelessness.

These unaware youth are on the sidelines of modern life. They are unapproachable except for matters that have no relation with the multiple facets of the will for revival. They are youth that are unmindful of the changing world that renews itself everyday in reaction to each event. They prefer not to be disturbed from their slumber and they remain steadfastly attached to their (listless) lifestyle. These youth are easily distracted by gratifications that are useless to the understanding of the current modern mindset and the need to change our lifestyle to better adapt to its evolution. The schooling they received exerts no influence on their family life nor on their outside relations. Moreover it does not impact in the slightest their psychological well being. As a group, they are hardly distinguishable from the group of young Moroccans who spent years in the narrow confines of Koranic schools.

We deplore the modernity represented here by this group of youth who don't feed on hope and whose actions are doomed to failure. The image they draw of themselves has no relationship with living in a modern civilization. Moroccan people must understand that there is no link between these heedless youth and the world we live in. Only then will modernity become valuable in the eyes of all and will it be possible for Moroccans to aspire to its positive attributes.

Those youth who studied in French have misunderstood their role and they have not in any manner fulfilled their obligations for Moroccan development. Above it all, they are to be blamed for being lazy, content to be mired in mediocrity. They feel no suffering, spurred on by no hope and far from any thoughts about their prestige or that of their nation. They are wet blankets, incapable of doing good or bad. There is no hope to count on them for anything. That is how they fit into the hierarchy of the people of this county. Will they awaken from the unenviable stupor they hide under?