Ok, I confess… I went to church here in Meknes last week. However the prevailing reason was that It was hot as beans in my apartment and I was hoping the church had a little bit of AC action going on… I know, I know… sue me! At least I’m honest.
I mean it wasn’t just for ac, I was interested in meeting new people, ones that weren’t rent a friend like my language partner, or sketchy like the Moroccan men friends I suppose I could make a plenty if I went to the right cafe and smiled just so… sigh.
It turns out that the Church is nothing like the big firmaments that Egypt has, or even that other major Moroccan cities have, it’s a chapel. There was no ac to be found, but there was lots and lots of something else, something that I pretty much gave up on this time around. …
Sub-Saharan Africans, lots and lots of sub-Saharan Africans… pretty much all of them are of the French speaking persuasion… but being there with them made me realize just how long I’ve been black in a brown world… I love multiculturalism, I appreciate having had people from literally everywhere in my classes, in my living arrangements etc.
But somewhere along the way, I’ve gotten used to being The only one. The black person, The black woman. Somewhere along the way I forgot what it was like to look around a room and for everyone to pretty much look like me, or someone I know. And I mean this even in the American context, I have been the only black person in both my Masters programs, and one of a handful of black people during undergrad. Working world, same story. Thank God for Nigerians in Qatar, while I was once again the only black person in my class, I saw faces of my persuasion rather regularly.
One again, I want to stress that I love my peeps from different continents. This experience with Africans doesn’t negate that fact at all…. at any rate,
There were very few people that came last week, but they made me feel welcome, and I had a pending hair appointment I was trying to finalize with a certain member. So because of that, plus the sense of community that inexplicably felt, I came this week… (I say inexplicably because usually when I meet Africans of the Francophone persuasion, once they realize that I can’t even string together a sentence in French, they ignore me… I’ve heard that Anglos do the same to Frenchies, but I wouldn’t know about that personally…. these people were willing to look past my embarrassingly clear inability to communicate). This time there were even more people, interestingly enough some Haitians (the Moroccan government took them into its university system after the earthquake)… this time there were people who spoke English and Spanish!
The Church in Morocco and I have this strange relationship, it was my independent research project on Christians in Morocco that led me to meet Sierra Leoneans studying here last time, and being with them changed my quality of life for the better. I’m pretty much out of contact with them all (life moves on and people move on to different continents and paces of life, I’m not mad) but I will be forever grateful for the kindness and warmth that they showed me.
This time around my spirits are not quite that low, but nonetheless it’s comforting to know that there are people who are going through what I’m going through. Some of them looked at me in disbelief when I said that I live with a Moroccan family… Although I denied them the satisfaction of agreeing with them, when they said “it sucks, right?’ they knew what I felt.
now this particular instance isn’t something particular to the black experience, at least some of my program mates would agree that host families, particularly the ones that we have, are pretty terrible. But when I returned home to hear my room mate’s tales of how disgusting the “lunch” of stale, tasteless and literally rotten meat and vegetables was, I laughed to myself and thought about what those guys would say if they could hear us talking…
Iftar promises to be even worse, so I’ll just bide my time. I keep telling myself that my stomach troubles probably mean that I am more likely to reach my pre-Spain weightloss goals… ha, ha. Just 3 weeks left, I made some new friends (possibly) might even get my hair did… we’ll see how it goes.
My encounters have not been without their awkward moments. One of the Haitian guys tried in a not-so subtle way to ask me out… ha, ha… poor thing, like many others doesn’t realize how old I am (he can’t be more than 21 … and although attractive enough, my two months short of 28 self just isn’t into vacation romances or summer “loving” … ha, ha) I just told him I had a fiance and we left it at that.
ha, ha… smh. It’s certainly not an occasion to get cocky though, because I know the “love” that was thrown my way was just because I’m something new… it had nothing to do with my women’s wiles, or the way I titled my head just so, as I tried desperately to make sense of the French coming out of the pastors mouth… ha,ha.
What I didn’t find though were Moroccans. My friend who went to the Catholic service said she met a Moroccan Christian! I know they exist (ahem, research project on them was enough to prove that) but in my previous experience they are super cryptic. When I wanted to interview one,, i had to send her my questions via her American Christian friend who then relayed back and forth between us. So for this guy to be as bold as he is, in a tiny town like Meknes is pretty interesting… Yup, still a nerd under it all, conversion stories, no matter what the religion of conversion is, are all fascinating to me.