Rabat – What story and culture lie in the old Chefchaouen City of Morocco? History buffs will most likely go into the details of how the mountain people of the city fought against invasion during their time. It was home to fearless members of the Jebala tribe. Their leaders established traditions to celebrate their lives and victories. What is more interesting to find out, though, is if the fierce Jebala tribe of the Rif Mountains then are now a part of the rich natural ethnic community of Morocco. Are they still the fearless warriors of the past, or are they bringing color to the lives of the new communities residing within the Rif Mountains?
Location and History
If you travel to the northwestern region of Morocco, you’ll find the Jebala people. They are known as a group of Berber mountain people. They are thought to have adopted the Arabic language of the people from northern Morocco and Al-Andalus. Years of trading with nearby cities connected the Jebala to the various lifestyles of their neighbors. One thing that Chefchaouen is known for is being a gateway in the Straits of Gibraltar for travelers and migrants. Whether it was for economic, political, or religious reasons, the Chefchaouen is a place for the people to pass through during their expedition.
Modern Jebala Community
What seemed like an unusual trading route between Fez and Tangier is now a city known for its widespread availability of locally grown marijuana, which is accessible to both tourists and locals. However, it is more famous for its blue-painted houses, and the city is even known as the Blue City. The origin of this practice of painting their houses blue is unknown. More than the blue houses, the city is also known for its handmade crafts and other goods created by the locals.
It is a common sight to spot Jebala women selling their products along the streets while wearing their beautiful woven wool blankets and traditional hats. This is one way to identify them as part of the ethnic tribe; their red-and-white striped blankets are a hint to their identities. In addition, the blue city has continued to be a home to local mosques, some of which were even created at the time of the Andalusian influx. These are prayer or worship places that the refugees created but now has become a part of the city’s well-known locations.
It is an interesting experience to view the distinct colors and culture that can bring people back to the time of the independent tribe of the Jebala. Even though the city has now welcomed various ethnicities, the indigenous tribe continues to survive by passing their traditions and cultures to the younger generations. Guests coming from anywhere around the globe traveling to the Rif certainly remember the hospitality of the locals.
Image from world.photoblog, https://www.instagram.com/p/BpcUjgkj1ih/