"Almitaq Alwatany" (The National Pact) - December 31, 1993

Among the publications which made their appearance during the period of the French Protectorate in Morocco, there was a review called "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" (The Moroccan Culture). It was administrated by Said Hajji, then placed under the direction of Ahmed ben Ghabrit between 1942 and 1945, under the currency "Letters, arts and sciences." Its objective, as mentioned on the back of the cover, was to be the review of Islam and Arabity, the mirror of the Arab past, the spokesman of the Moroccan literature, a review which contributes to revive the prestigious production of the Arab Orient and diffuse the master works of the western countries.

A few months only after its birth, this review knew the death of its founder Said Hajji. It stopped its appearance for a certain while and had some difficulties to restart its publication because of the circumstances of world war II which were not favorable to the promotion of the cultural reviews . In 1945, the printing works which ensured the publication of "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" decided to stop the print of the review (see the numbers 9 and 10 of July 1945). How did the review survive during the period of its functioning? Has it achieved its goals? Let us read what its new director, Ahmed Benghabrit wrote on this subject in the editorial of the second year dated september, 1942 under the title: "Our orientation":

"Five months only have elapsed since our brother Said Hajji passed away, and here is the review 'Al Taqafa Almaghribiya' reappearing after being almost buried in the beauty of its youth and the charm of its grace. Said died, but the duty implacably invites to respect the appointment which we took to manage together this cultural project after having completed to establish the bases of the daily newspaper 'Almaghrib.' ... Our road companion has gone ... At a moment during which he supervised the crossroads. Three ways were offered in front of us, leading to the right direction.or to a false orientation.

One of these ways is very broad and is bordered on both sides of huge trees which give some welcome shade from the sun. Only the cars of rest and pleasure have access to this road

The second way, marked by soft slopes and romantic deviations incites to ask for help in all what one undertakes. Some find in this way sources where they can quench their thirst, enough to eat to satisfy their hunger, and let the ministerin angels guide them in the right way.

The third way - the one we have choosen for our orientation - is almost inaccessible and strewn with difficulties. The glance meets there only spines, rocks and ravines. But it contains some paths that those who have remote aimings have submitted to roadworks ...

We choose the way traced by these ambitious spirits, in spite of the sorrows which we could endure in the achievement of the task that was assigned to us. These are our guides who give us a big hand today thanks to their support to this review with the fruit of their ideas and the creativity of their literary production ..."

"We can deduce from this introductory text that there were other unexploited financing sources and an appreciable potential of collaborators and that the contributions of the public were most welcome, as the scene was empty."

The reviews which were born during the thirties have ceased to appear as a consequence of the measurements of repression which aimed them after the wave of arrests and imprisonments following the violent confrontations that made many victims in the rows of the nationalists who were celebrating the poet and the man of letters Mohammed El Qarri.

Where did the director of the review find such a classification?

Let us read the second editorial published in the same number by Allal El Jamai, the successor to Said Hajji, under the title: "Taqafatuna" (Our culture):

"For this reason, we have accelerated the reappearance of 'Al Taqafa Almaghribiya' and assigned to this review the mission of offering the talented writers who control their art and their style and are faithful to their ideas, a vast field of opportunities where they can express their literary genius. We have framed it with a 'taifa' or core made up of a reduced group of intellectuals well choosen among those who believe firmly in the objectives of revival and progress. This core is assisted by a 'zoumra' or shock troop whose members are recruited among the readers who appreciate the efforts provided by the review and the goals that it set.

Our ambition is to make of 'Al Taqafa Almaghribiya' a replication of the cultivated class of our people which started to contribute with an appropriate production in the fields of science, literature and arts. We will make every endeavour to spread out its orientation in the broad daylight in order to emphasize the soul of the Moroccan people who played the first roles on the cultural field among the ancients and continues to say true without weakness nor prudery among the modern generations. The way we have traced as a guideline for our activity differs from the orientations which had been fixed to us previously and thus, in order to enable us to achieve our new goals without delay or deviations and without recourse to sinuosities or insidious means.Only the national interest and the cultural objective will prevail as rules of conduct. We are conscious that, while working exclusively in the interest of science, literature and art, we take the risk to irritate a certain number of our friends, but we are convinced that serving the cultural cause passes before any complaisance. even if this orientation leads to dissatisfy a significant number of those who intend to submit the public opinion to their 'Weltanschauung' and to pass for the initiators of the spirit of revival. Our concern is to help the reader to value the science for the science, the letters for the letters, the arts for the arts and the culture for the culture's sake.".

We are tempted to conclude from the analysis of the second editorial that it is requested from the review to play another role as that it was created for, whereas the persons in charge of its publication did not share these new rules of conduct which were not compatible with its initial literary and artistic objectives, although they were convinced that the review was going to lose a significant part of its customers among its friends and supporters who approved the suggested changes of orientation.

The fact of referring here to a political organisation by adopting some key words of its terminology such as "zawiya" which means angular stone, "Osba" or body of troop, "the control of the public opinion", "the dominating spirit", "taifa" which evokes the secret cells, corroborates our thesis which draws its justification in the power struggle that the leaders of the political community led against one another and decided to operate separately, Mohammed ben Hassan El Wazzani having left the on constituting National Party to create his own organisation which he called "Al Hizb Al Qawmy" (the Patriotic Party), while Allal El Fassi was put at the head of the National Party, whose creation was approved by the congress of 1937. Two more parties were created in Tetouan and Tangier: "Hizb Al Islah" (Reformatory Party) under the leadership of Abdelkhaleq Torres,and "Hizb Al Wahda" (Unionist Party) under the leadership of Mekki Naciri.

It seems to me that the review did not want to adopt a partisan attitude and avoided to take part in the internal quarrels, prefering not to participate in the political debate and to remain faithful to its creed "Culture for the culture."

This motto, which was not Allal El Fassi's supporters taste, has been used one month later by a review entitled "Al risala Almaghribiya" (The Message of Morocco) in its number of october 1942, which took the same position as "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" and survived this review when it stopped to appear in 1945.

Within the framework of this competition, "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" was characterized by the editorial participation of Moroccan writers who approached several topics with weighting and creativity, avoiding the subjects which might be schocking for the readers or could eventually provoke a negative reaction of some of them. The review lost its spirit of criticism, and the writers resorted to pseudonyms during the last year of its existence, contrary to the first years.

The writers of this period who signed their articles in the 11 numbers of the review that it was given to me to consult, bore the following names:

Ahmed Benghabrit, Allal El Jamai, Mohammed Sayeh, Abdelhadi Chraibi, Ahmed Bahanini, Abderrahman El Fassi, Mohammed Elmahdi Hajoui, Mohammed Elbziwi, Mohammed Ben Brahim, Abdelmalek Belghiti, Dris Kettani, Rashid Derkawi, Mohammed Larbi Alami, Abdeaziz ben Abdallah, Abdelhamid Amor, Seddik El Fassi, Muntasir Kettani, Hassan Bounaamani, Abdeslam Alaoui, Hammad Laraki, Mohammed ben Brahim Kettani, Mohammed ben Abdallah, Dris Idrissi, Mohammed Lahbabi, Mohammed Guennoun, Mohammed Gharit, Mohammed Tetouani, Ahmed Lahlou, Abdelhafid Alaoui, Hassan Tanani, Abou Bakr Kabbaj, Abdelhadi Boutaleb, Mohammed Belhaj, Ahmed Badraoui, Abdelkader Hashmi.

The writers whose names more frequently return in the above mentioned numbers are:

Mehdi Hajoui, Abderrahman El Fassi (6 times), Abdelhadi Chraibi, Dris Kettani, Mohammed Elbziwi (5 times), Allal El Jamai, Dris Idrissi, Mohammed Lahbabi (4 times).

As for the editorial topics, they were varied. Here are some examples:

"the embryogenesis and the relation between the body and the matter, the woman and Islam, the Moroccan patrimony, the Okad days in Tazeroualet, the rivalry between orthodoxy and innovation, the Genius and the heroism, the artistic expression in Arab poetry, the genius and the taste, New glance on the restoration of the city of Fès."

None of these topics, as one can note it, incites to controversy, or involves unfriendly quarrels, compared to what we were used to see in the review "Almaghrib" which preceeded "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya", or the reviews "Al Salam" (The salute) and "Almaghrib Al Jadid" (The new Morocco) which were the targets of the censorship before stoping to appear, the first after one year and the second after two years. The two publications carried out a political struggle under the cover of a literary clothing which had a great echo thereafter.

But, in spite of all this, "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" remains the review which had a well deserved reputation for excellence as an intellectual plateform. It has largely contributed to enrich the idea of the revival in Morocco, not only by the interest that it carried to the literary production of this country, but also by the variety of the topics that it approached in different fields of knowledge, and the valorization of the literary production of our men of letters whose names are closely associated to the intellectual rebirth.

We quote, as an example, a series of articles entitled "In company of our contemporary authors" signed "Ziyad" in which the writer presented in a section devoted to Abdallah Ibrahim the collection of poems of his friend Abdelkader Hassan and wrote in particular:

"Abdelkader Hassan has published his collection of poems while tens of poets and editors dare not launch out in the edition activity to present to the public their literary production. Abdelkader pursued his studies in a faculty which ignored literature and swore only by the grammairiens and the linguists like (Khalil), (Almakoudi) or (Al Achmouni) , a faculty which had literature in deep horror, considered the men of letters as objects of general derision and the interest carried to the field of human sciences as a crime whose mark remains engraved in one's conscience, and its desastrous effect can never be erased or its infamy be reduced. But Abdelkader succeeded to be devoted to the literature and to study the most important masterworks, exerted himself in the literary writing and composed his own poems."

One can say the same about Abdallah Ibrahim who did not have a different teaching from his friend Abdelkader Hassan. Both of them followed the same orientation as that of our men of letters in the first stage of their education and thirst of culture..

Isn't this way of making our intellectuals of the thirties and forties better known to the rising generation a support to our thesis according to which "Al Taqafa Almaghribiya" was a serious review which largely contributed to promote the literary movement of that golden period?

What would lose our platforms of culture and information which live from and by the verb to grant interest to this review as well as to the whole of its editorial team?

Dris Karam