Rabat-Salé Memoire is a free, week-long cultural activity promoting the cultural heritage of Rabat and Salé, including workshops, musical performances, concerts, etc. run by the Association of Rabat-Salé Memoire with the help of high school volunteers from the two cities. I attended a book-binding workshop in Oudayas, a pottery workshop, a Salé walking tour, a musical performance, and the final concert in Chellah. Here I share my thoughts and tips in the Q&A form.
How can I find out the exact dates?
I don’t think the exact dates are the same every year, but it’s usually in April. Make sure to follow them on Facebook for updates and check out their website for a detailed schedule before the events at http://rabatsalememoire.com/. Their website for some reason is not even on the first page when you do a simple Google search.
What did you do in those activities?
In the book-binding workshop, the artist prepared all the materials for us, including leather covers, hammers, screws, compasses etc. We carved out beautiful patterns on the leather covers and sewed the covers and the papers together. It was an easy process, but the final product was absolutely beautiful.
Before the pottery workshop, I thought we were going to make tagines because I know Salé is pretty famous for its pottery. However, the workshops for adults and kids ended up being the same one, and we simply made a picture with clay. Nothing too exciting in my opinion.
I also went on a walking tour of Salé because although I live and study in Rabat and Salé is very close, I don’t usually get a chance to explore Salé and know more about its history.
The final concert in Chellah was definitely a big deal. The line was so long and people were already lining up before the start of the concert. They invited a famous Moroccan singer that I don’t know the name of, but everyone was pretty excited about her presence.
How do I know which workshops are more fun?
Honestly, there is no way to find out because there is no detailed descriptions in the schedule. Maybe ask the volunteers wearing staff shirts and see if they have any recommendations. I’m not sure if the program is the same every year, but definitely try to get in the final concert if they have it in Chellah again.
What if I don’t speak French or Arabic?
Honestly, do not worry at all. In the book-binding workshop, the artist explained everything in Darija and English. The English translation was definitely helpful, but I pretty much understood everything from his demonstration. If the artist did not speak a word of English, it would not be an issue either because the workshops are very hands-on. Also, there are a lot of live music performances where you can just go and enjoy. The walking tours have English tours in Rabat, but they only offer tours in French and Arabic in Salé. I would recommend going regardless, because you never know who you’ll meet! I met a medical student who translated everything to English for me on the Salé walking tour.
Do I need a reservation?
Yes for those events with an asterisk in the schedule. The way to reserve a spot is very vague. You can fill out a Google form on its official website, but they don’t have a form for every event with an asterisk and the forms were no longer available few days before the event. And for the concert in Chellah, my Moroccan friend who was volunteering for the event told me that one has to go to a ticket office to get a physical ticket as proof of reservation. I would definitely call and ask.
How did you make a reservation?
I did not know that I needed a reservation until the night before the book-binding workshop. I was just talking to a Moroccan friend about the event, and he told me he was a volunteer for the event. He messaged the administrators and made sure I could get in the workshops. He also gave me a ticket for the concert.
What if I can’t get a spot?
Still show up! The morning sessions of the workshops had very few attendees because most people do not want to wake up early apparently. The morning workshop on Sunday has no attendees at all and the volunteers filled in and participated instead. As for the final concert in Chellah, there were two lines at the entrance, one for those with tickets and the other for those without. At the end, I think everybody got in the concert. The volunteers brought more chairs so more people could sit. It was good to accommodate more people, but the concert started an hour late because of that!
Do similar activities exist in other Moroccan cities?
Yes! My Moroccan friend told me that in every city, there is an organization like this. One of the IES Abroad professors recommended Casa Memoire too in Casablanca, though I never found out the exact dates. It would be cool to visit different cities during these heritage days for sure!
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<p>Speaking fluent Mandarin Chinese, English, and conversational Czech, Yu Chen is currently looking to perfect his French during his upcoming semester abroad in Rabat. Passionate about revealing social and structural inequalities around the world through film and media, Yu Chen is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Gender & Sexuality Studies and Digital Media Production.</p><p>Previously, Yu Chen has studied environmental issues in Okinawa, conducted research on social practice art in Puerto Rico, exchanged at the Film & TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and tasted 44-year-old homemade Serbian Rakija in Belgrade.</p>