Who am I?
Impossible question. In my opinion, it equals; tell me your story. What happened? Where should I start? From the beginning, of course. I was born in 1960 from a german mother and a Moroccan father.
They met in the fifties in a town named Speyer. My father was a young officer installed in Germany, a French colonial army member, after France’s defeat in the Indochina war in 1954. My mother was a young orphan. Her father had died in the Russian front in 1943 when she was about five years old.
Morocco gain his independence in 1956. Being a nationalist and a third-world advocate was the right place to be in those days. So my father immediately resigned from the French army and returned to serve his country. My mother followed him with my two elder brothers under her arms. She was 17 at her first pregnancy.
Morocco was a new country full of promises. My father’s position was reasonable. My mother discovered a lifestyle she would have never dreamed of if she had stayed in her hometown in Germany, a life with vivid princes and princesses with all the fuzz and privileges that go with it. And that’s when I stepped into the game, on 24 of July 1960, in Rabat.
Shortly said, I grew up in a protected environment. My father embraced a diplomatic career, so I had the privilege of living a part of my childhood in London (3 years) and Kinshasa (2 years) before turning back to Morocco in the seventies. I have the feeling the dream began to fall apart at that stage for different reasons.
Despite its natural beauty and the open heart of many of its people, Morocco wasn’t the paradise I thought I grew up. After the independence, the ruling classes slipped into the colonialist’s shoes and behaved like them. Like many other south post-war regimes, the cruelty of political repression was limitless, especially in the mid-seventies.
I don’t know if this is related, but I remember the day my father advised me to “get the hell out of there”. There was nothing good for me here, he said repeatedly. Bigotry, corruption, and greed had overridden all other considerations. Futur was ticking like a time bomb, he advised me.
An event came to hit my life one night. Two guys abused me. One of them was even a family friend. But I’ve worked it out. It wasn’t that difficult. All I had to do was forget. I did that by smoking abundantly cannabis, which everyone knows, can be found at every corner in Morocco. One of my favorite cocktails consisted of cannabis, alcohol, and amphetamines. When I report this, I detect a kind of pity in the eyes of others. But then again, it wasn’t that bad. I saw things from a hedonistic perspective. My parents were divorcing, and there was nobody in a position to look after me. I was free and could do nearly all I wanted.
Music played a massive role in my life. I picked up a guitar bass and began to play passionately. James Jamerson and later on Jaco Pastorius became my absolute heroes. Of course, I wasn’t the genius I hoped I would be. I was an average musician, which I didn’t know at that time. But I loved how I felt my blood running in my veins after holding my instrument in my hands for many hours.
I don’t know how I got there, but I finally passed my high school diploma, the so-called “baccalauréat.” I was then able to migrate to France to study. I enrolled in the sociology faculty. It took me a few years to write a master’s thesis titled “Teaching Jazz,” which was related to nonformal education and ethnographic observations within a Music school.
I also began a career as a semi-professional musician. Some nights on stage, others in an Hôtel as a night watchman. That’s how I called myself, a semi-pro. Most of the gigs were in clubs, playing Chicago Blues. I was even part of a dance band for a few years. We played at birthday parties, inaugurations, weddings, led by a conductor who staged wedding cake’s arrivals with “Eye of the tiger.” Sometimes we sounded like a peplum movie. Bow tie, and all. It was pathetic.
After many years of that, I became a bit nervous about my life. My wife was pregnant. I needed to find a “real” job.
I then met a training organization that dealt with young people with “social and professional handicaps”. It was a difficult job. Nothing I had done before had prepared me for it. The groups I was in charge of were concentrating all the failures and flaws of society. It was tough. I experienced weakness, proper loss, and sometimes fear. One day, a kid sent a homies group after me because I had shown him disrespect, he claimed. Being an adult had nothing from advantage at that moment. I can tell you.
One day a colleague proposed to me to participate in a Franco-German project. The idea was to accompany a group of youngsters to Berlin to meet German counterparts. I could speak German and had a strong sense of German culture. I discovered there the role of intercultural facilitator.
This first intercultural exchange led to a second one, and then another. The organization for which I worked and still work today is a breeding ground for “cross-cultural pedagogy.” The purpose is to challenge stereotypes and prejudices and to promote mutual acceptance through integrative projects. That was The turning point of my career as an educator, which I learned from ground experience.
I participated in dozens and dozens of intercultural projects, mainly in Europe, on the Mediterranean perimeter, and south América. Today I train young facilitators and educators in group processes, preparing them to conceive and lead intercultural projects.
In 2015 I wrote a novel “La houlette” and won a few literature prizes. Not from the big important ones. Still, I had recognition and assurance that I could write an entire book. I participated in various literary salons and had the chance to approach beautiful people. Since then, I wrote two more books, but I’m still struggling to have them published. My editors asked me to rewrite some parts. But the manuscripts rest like dead lions inside me. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I doubt the utility or sense of fiction writing. What’s the purpose of writing stories? Who cares about them anyway? That kind of thought.
Last but not least, I discovered two years ago that I was prone to epileptic seizures. These seizures are sorts of blackouts. It’s as if my brain goes offline for a few minutes. I’m here, eyes opened, but completely absent. I then come back and stay confused for a few hours, and I can’t remember events from the near past, the week before, or even the day before. It then comes back little by little. Fortunately, after spending a week in a neurology hospital, the doctors gave me a medication that made the seizures disappear. I haven’t had one in over a year now. I’m maintaining myself physically.
I practice my instrument again, with a desire and a freshness that I haven’t known for years. I have read several articles that show that playing a musical instrument is an excellent therapy for the brain. I believe that and stick to the idea.
Finally, I want to add that I live with a wonderful woman, companion, accomplice, and confidant. She’s my sunshine. And without her, I wonder where I would be by now. My other sunshine is my daughter, who is now 24 years old and is currently finishing a Master 2, and of which I am very proud.