Neila Tazi: Gnaoua Festival Bolsters Morocco’s ‘Cultural Affiliation’ to Africa
abat – 20th edition of the Gnaoua and World Music Festival approaches, founder Neila Tazi explains why she believes celebrating Morocco’s sub-Saharan cultural heritage is critical for the kingdom’s growth.
Every summer, lovers of the music of the African diaspora make a pilgrimage to the Atlantic port town of Essaouira for the Gnaoua and World Music festival. Bringing together the maalems, or masters, of Morocco’s Gnaoua brotherhood and international jazz, funk, and soul musicians to perform in the squares and beaches of the 18th century port town, the festival has grown to become one of Morocco’s most popular festivals.
In a city of roughly 70,000, its first edition in 1998 saw around 20,000 attendees, while last year’s festival welcomed over 500,000 Gnaoua lovers into the Essaouira medina gates.
The festival is largely the brainchild of Neila Tazi, the founder of A3 Communications, which oversees the three-day festival. Tazi talked with Morocco World News about the runaway success of the event, the potential for cultural heritage to lead economic growth, and the festival’s increasing relevance in the context of the kingdom’s Africa-facing foreign policy.
Read more :