The creation in 2009 of the Yerma Gnaoua Association aims at preserving and enhancing the status of the intangible heritage of the Gnaoua. The Yerma Gnaoua Association is a vehicle for disseminating information about Gnaoua culture in Morocco and throughout the world, in addition to respecting and keeping its traditions. As well as being a contemporary creative body, the association also undertakes social responsibilities .
The Association is committed to the continuation of the Gnaoua and World Music festival (a genuine showcase for Gnaoua art) and inspires Gnaoua musical creation through artists’ residencies and partnerships with foreign festivals and musicians.
Regenerating Gnaoui heritage
In 2009, the association made its first steps to preserve the Gnaoui heritage by organising the traditional Gnaoua moussem held on the eve of the sacred month of Ramadan.
Other steps are currently underway:
• The transcription of the lyrics of Gnaoui musical repertoire. This involves research, collation of texts requiring the expertise of musicologists, anthropologists and sociologists.
• One of the main objectives of the Yerma Gnaoua Association is the classification of Gnaoua traditions with UNESCO as “oral and intangible heritage of humanity». The Moroccan Ministry of Culture has also pledged its support.
. Helping Moroccan Gnaoua maalems obtain their artists’ cards from the Ministry of Culture.
On the social front, the association has underwritten health insurance for 20 maalems with the Moroccan Artists’ Mutual Fund. This program intends to extend the coverage to include 50 other maalems during the current year.
As for Gnaoua culture abroad, Yerma Gnaoua has established this year a partnership with the World Traditions Festival in Sherbrooke, Canada, at which two gnaoua groups performed from 11th to 15th Aug 2010.
In May 2011, the 4th World Nomads Festival in New York was dedicated to Morocco, at which Mustapha Bakbou and Mahmoud Guinea represented the Gnaoua.
Although the association is still young, the personal involvement of maalems in the direction of the program assures the future of this ancestral art.
The timeless music of Gnaoua maalems continues and has earned its place in society. Their ancestral tradition has music and spirituality at its core.