Reginald Rankin.

In Morocco with General d'Amade online

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school. Plis pupils manage the local branches of
the Banque d'Etat and Compagnie Algdrienne,
and are found as book-keepers in the leading-
English houses.

Such men are far cheaper and better suited to


these employments than would be new-comers from
Euroj)e. They have a thorough knowledge not
only of the languages in daily use, but of the
Moorish character, and are not disliked by the
natives with whom they have grown up side by
side. From amongst them the subaltern employes
of the French administration of the future will
probably be recruited. Fear of the Moroccan is
engrained in the Moroccan Jew, and he will there-
fore remain supple and cringe to his former master,
where a new-comer would trample on the prejudices
of a conquered race.

M. Pisa has also organised an Apprentices'
School, in which the dislike of manual labour in-
herent in the Jewish nature is overcome, and where
those unfitted for commercial life are trained as
upholsterers, cabinetmakers, masons, blacksmiths,
and gardeners, the last being an occupation in
which Jews are pre-eminent.

An " Old Boys' Association" is also connected
with the school, which not only provides situations
for those leaving it, but had also a library in which
they could find books and periodicals. Unfortu-
nately this library, as well as the funds connected
with it, was pillaged after the Ijombardment, and
the work of the Association has had to be tem-
porarily suspended.

M. Pisa is an enthusiastic admirer of Arab Art,
and would gladly train the pupils both of the Boys'
and Girls' Schools in its elements, not only as
applied to Architecture and to Design, but to


Weaving and Embroidery. When the school moves
into its new buildings, space could be found for a
workshop, and as carpet weaving is one of the
great occupations of Casablanca, and as far as its
mechanical side is concerned, better done even than
at Rabat, he thinks that if funds could be found
to ]3ay a Professor of Design and Weaving, who
could ground his pupils in the theory as well as
in the practice of Moorish Art, it would give them
a means of procuring their livelihood in the future.
The French occupation has already caused a great
rise in the price of carpets and of embroideries,
and as the carpets of Rabat with their vegetable
dyes and pure Arabic designs are extremely scarce,
those of Casablanca, which are more closely woven,
are beginning to supplement them. Unfortunately
the weavers are not only employing cheap aniline
dyes, but are cojDying the worst European patterns,
and are at the same time flooding the market with
machine-made edgings and embroideries from Ger-
many. Hence it is necessary, if an important
industry is to be preserved, that its elements
should be thoroughly taught to the rising genera-
tion, and I would recommend the matter to the
attention of the lady patronesses of the Alliance
Israelite. As Casablanca rugs have risen in value
since August 1907 from 50 francs to 130 francs,
their manufacture is worthy of consideration.

It may be added that in order to encourage
neatness amongst the boys the more necessitous
are provided with European clothing twice a


year from a fuud bequeathed by the late
Baroness Hirsch.

Not three hundred yards away from M. Pisa's
school is the Religious School where those Jews
who still cling to their old traditions, and even
some of M. Pisa's own pupils, receive instruction
in the Law, the Prophets, and the Talmud.

Here, in a cavernous-looking room with horse-
shoe arches and a timbered roof, where the green -
painted argan-wood rafters are set as thick as
those in Leonardo da Vinci's " Last Supper," the
sunlight falls through the open door upon three
benchfuls of boys clothed in the gaberdine of
their forefathers and the djellaba whose pointed
hood resembles the dress of the kobolds on
German Christmas cards. Their master, a vener-
able, white-bearded figure, coiffed in a bird's-eye
handkerchief and robed in flowing white, is
squatting cross-legged in the corner nearest the
door, with a fair-headed little child nestling by
his side. In a monotonous chant in a shrill
minor key, accompanied by that swaying motion
of the trunk which seems inseparable from religious
instruction in Morocco, they are chanting the
Torah from printed books. From time to time
the master, nodding and swaying, gives the
pitch. A bright-eyed boy in European dress
and lycden's cap, who has seen us at M. Pisa's,
in excellent Spanish serves as our interpreter to
the Dominie, who is guiltless of any languages
save Hebrew and Arabic. I hand him a small


coin, which he passes on to his preceptor, and
the clianting which my appearance has inter-
rupted begins anew. Such are the schools in
which Israel in Mogreb has handed down her
traditions and her law since the time when the
Vandals ruled at Carthaoe.

No words can express the eager desire of
the Jewish parent to give his son some kind of
education. In Mogador a father has been known
to pawn his djellaba to pay his son's school fees.
It might be thought that the pupils of the
Alliance Israelite would have been admirably
fitted to carry European civilisation into the
Mellahs of the interior, but such has not hitherto
proved to be the case. Not only are the Jews
gradually deserting Fez Marrakesh and Mequinez
for the coast towns, but there is a great emigration
of their educated men to South America, where they
are founding large colonies, and whither they are
followed by their fiancees. Kecent events will, how-
ever, provide them with openings at home.

The Jewish Girls' Schools at Casablanca are,
in most respects, fully as well equipped as that
for the Boys.

That directed by Mme. Benzakan has 250 pupils,
many of them i\Ioorish subjects, ranging in age from
seven to fifteen years. She is assisted by pupil-
teachers trained by herself, two of whom will, she
hopes, go to France this year to compete for the
entrance diploma in the School Mistresses' Course.

The subjects taught and the method of teach-


ing are, on the whole, nearly the same as those
of the Boys' School. Three hours a day are
devoted to French, and three to sewing and
embroidery. So far as the mechanical part is
concerned both are excellently done, but Mme.
Benzakan complains that tlie u;irls, who say tliey
can learn Moorish embroidery at home, will only
use European patterns. She thinks that a few
may be able to earn a franc a day as dress-
makers, but as the whole Jewish population of
Casablanca does not exceed 5000, and as they
would liavo to compete with French and Spanish
milliners, the market will soon be glutted. She
is endeavouring to teach them the principles
of art historically, and thinks that with en-
couragement she could interest them in Moorish
Art if a market could be found for their pro-
ductions later on. History, Literature, the Bible,
and Morals are carefully taught, as is Geograpliy,
the maps used being excellent. Domestic Economy
is taught only theoretically, for owing to the
smallness of the buildings and the want of appli-
ances no lessons can be given in practical cookery.
Science is also taught, as is Drawing, and great
pains are taken with French recitation. The
fees paid by the majority amount on an average
to only half a douro Hassani — say one shilling
and threepence a month, but many are so j)oor
that tbey often have to be remitted.

Girls taught in the school marry early, and
often go away into the Mellahs of the Interior ;


but many of them keep up their European
training and habits, and such marriages must
do much to raise the standard of civilisation
amongst the Moroccan Jews.

The Alliance Israelite practically supports eight
schools for boys and seven for girls in Morocco,
including Fez and Marrakesh, but not Saffi or
Mazagan. The total Jewish population of these
towns is given as 5G,500, and the schools, which
cost in all about 50,000 francs a year, are attended
by 1859 boys and 1139 girls, about half being
paying pupils.

For Europeans Casablanca has a small French
school — a private venture run on the lines of a
Lycee, but now that the English secondary school
has been suspended owing to the consequences
of the bombardment there are no means for
procuring instruction in English.

Such are the facilities for education open to
the rising generation, who as men and women
will in the future mould the destinies of Morocco,
which are to be found in its chief port. The
human material which the teachers have to work
upon is better than might have been expected,
for neither the Moors nor the Jews are deficient
in natural abilities. That the results of this
education will be favourable to the progress of
civilisation cannot well be doubted, but it is
possible that they will not prove equally favour-
able to the Europeanisation of the country. The
Moroccan Jew, educated on modern lines, will


prove a formidable competitor to the middle-
class immigrant from Europe or from Algeria, and
the sympathies of the Moroccan Jew are by no
means wholly with the French, Unless edu-
cated immigrants of small means can find a foot-
hold in Morocco, France will find herself called
upon to repeat her experiences in Algeria, and
this is the more to be regretted since what is
passing in Casablanca at this moment seems to
show that Frenchmen are to be found who are
prepared to emigrate from their country for
other reasons than to fill posts in the Govern-
ment service. Only the French trader, the
French clerk, and the French firmer can bring
Morocco under European control. France cannot
afford to waste her blood and her treasure merely
to set up a Morocco for the Moroccans. Her
sentimental interest in Mohammed Kamel Pasha's
dreams will not extend to those of some Moroccan
Mazzini. Hence, perhaps, her reluctance to enter
on a forward policy. The little-realised power of
the Jews is thus cryptically summarised in a letter
from a Casablanca friend: "I believe that Kings,
and Governments, Uniforms, Wars, Ideals and
many things, are only incidents and uses of the
Jews, who control and are at the real bottom of
all ; and that is deeper than we can go."


Early in the morning of Sunday, February 9, the
French column left Zaouia Sidi el Mekki, marching
in column of route in a south-westerly direction.
Through the dripping asphodel, soaking them
above the knees, trudged the sturdy swarthy-
visaged Tirailleurs, chattering and shouting to
one another in perpetual chorus audible a mile

To the south lay the low line of the hills guard-
ing Settat ; in front three abrupt, rocky knolls
stood out on the horizon ; to the west there was
nothing but the immense stretch of the plain,
dotted by a few white koithhas. Presently from
the right came the sound of distant firing. The
General, attended ])y his tricolour pennon and his
stati', trotted on to the head of the column ; but the
cavalry were out of sight. For half-an-hour or
more the persistent tick-tack of rifle fire showed
that the cavalry were still in touch with the Arabs.

By this time the column had reached a culti-
vated dell, where a clump of huts stood beneath a
tall date-palm, near two wells of excellent water.
To the right rose a ridge covered with a thicket of
cactus, below which blue and yellow lupins were


just coming into flower. Beyond, a field of beans
filled the air with their entrancing fragrance.

Presently in the distance a dark horde loomed
in sight ; the sun Hashed on the swords of the
encircling horsemen. The mass came nearer ; the
bellowing of cattle mingled with the bleating of
sheep and goats ; the red cord-bound head-dress
and flowing white robes of the Goumiers stood out
against the dun herds.

Waving their swords and shouting they shep-
herded tlieir booty between the long lines of
transport carts — camels, horses, cattle, sheep, goats,
and donkeys — two thousand at the very least.

At the head of the procession marched the
prisoners, Arabs of both sexes, most of the women,
nearly all of whom carried babies, being mounted
on donkeys.

Then came a crowd of triumphant, sweating
Algerians, their saddles, their horses' rumps and
necks, even their own backs bulging with multi-
farious loot ; dashing hither and thither, like angry
bees, in futile eflbrt to corral the terrified stam-
peding beasts.

Carpets and rugs, in colour and design markedly
superior to anything made in Morocco to-day,
formed their principal prizes ; besides these tliere
were all sorts of artistically striped coverlets, camel-
hair tents, kettles, brazen dishes — all the domestic
paraphernalia of wealthy Arabs.

The Goumiers were proud of themselves; they


said the wretches had dared to defend their
property ; they had been obhged to run ten of
them through. The gunners and the Spahis and
the Legionaries crowded round to see the spoil and
hear the tale, and while panting Goumiers, having
deposited voluminous armfuls of upholstery, hurried
away to find a camel on whicli to stow it, comrades
dashed in, seized a rug or so, and made off, to be
pursued and captured by the returning Goum, and
forced to disgorge their ill-gotten gains. Mule-cart
drivers seized sheep and tied them by the legs to
the summits of their loads ; delicious fox -terrier-
like lambs, with white bodies and black or tan-
marked heads, speedily were ravished from their
bleating dams ; black, sensible-eyed goats sat on
many a limber ; and yellow puppies might be
seen poised on the backs of surprised artillery
horses. All the French officers who had seen
service in Algeria (and there are few who have not)
were licking their lips at the prospect of meshivi
once more — sheep roasted whole, and torn to pieces
with the fingers, after the native manner — "the
only mutton worth eating," was the unanimous
verdict. The Chasseurs had their story to tell.
Firing at Moors about six hundred yards away,
they were surprised to find bullets whizzing past
their ears with an accuracy of aim they had long
ceased to expect from Arabs at that distance.
Suddenly the captain in command spied something
dark in the green barley a hundred yards away.


He and his men charged down, and found a dozen
Arabs, their rifles still hot, shamming dead. In a
very few seconds the sham became reality.

The bnitality of the Moors has often been
written about ; but only the sight of their cruelties
really brings home to the mind the depravity of
these wretches.

When the French cavalry had surrounded the
flocks and herds, and the Moors saw that their
wealth was lost, they seized the nearest animals
and broke their legs, cut ofl their hoofs, hamstrung
them, gashed them, mutilated them.

Something tangible will have been done for
civilisation when, under the control of France, such
dastardly acts are no longer possible.

But here comes a black - bearded captain,
galloping up to see the fun ; his horse falls into
a ditch, over his head goes the captain ; when he
gets up his sword describes a correct right angle.

Camp was pitched near the wells ; and nearly
everybody's thoughts were on mutton and on
nothing else.

I sat down to eat a frugal lunch near some
officers similarly employed ; their cases and boxes
were littered about round them. Out of one
wooden box came a great clucking.

" Where is my picketing-rope ? " cried a huge
veterinary surgeon in red-velvet cap.

His batman produced a rectangle of fine string,
about three feet square, attached to four small pegs,

7k a

•^>Ct. ^

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Online LibraryReginald RankinIn Morocco with General d'Amade → online text (page 9 of 18)