French Colonial Presence In Sefrou French Influence on Architecture

These photos show the architecture of buildings in Sefrou. The French had many major contributions to the architecture of buildings in sefrou, one distinct quality is the use of large windows which is seen in the photos. Islamic architecture placed little emphasis on windows since it violated the privacy and sanctity of private buildings. Even to this day the influence of French architecture is embraced and many buildings still retain some of the same qualities.

These photos show the  architecture of buildings in Sefrou

 This part of the essay explores the French colonial presence in Sefrou Morocco through  both written and visual representations. To illustrate, the French colonial postcard in Morocco  has a lot to say about the French colonial presence, for it projects church, cafés, Funduqs, cars  and motorcycles, hospitals architecture, ways of dressing, French people, and their activities in  Sefrou Morocco from 1912 until Morocco’s independence in 1956. The following postcards  portray some of these elements.

Hotel des Arcades Sefrou, see the following photograph for more information on this Funduq.
This postcard in provides us with the price and a caption: “Sefrou, avenue de France” 15,00 €
This postcard is captioned: A corner of the city (Translation mine)

 Through clothes in the second postcard and language in both postcards on Sefrou, I see the  French colonial presence.  
 The postcard tells the spectator that the people in the photograph are French and what  shows this is clothes, dates, and the language used in the postcard.

Added to that, take, for example, Paul Rabinow’s book Symbolic Domination Cultural  Form and Historical Change in Morocco. Rabinow writes:  

A series of changes were instituted shortly after the establishment of the Protectorate,  and the villager’s reactions to these changes were to have profound implications. Once  the French were in control, the villagers felt themselves to be “reacting“to events,  institutions, values coming to them from the outside. One of the first changes that the  French made was to set up five markets in the Sefrou region as well as to shore up the  older ones. Physical security, markets bolstered by the French, large inputs of foreign  goods, and new needs all combined to undercut the economic role of the stores in Sidi  Lahcen. Today there are nine stores in the village, and none produces sufficient  revenue by itself to support a single-family. (1975, p.45)

This quote tells the reader that the French colonial presence in Sefrou is significantly powerful,  for the French came with institutions, their language, religion, etc. Rabinow in the same text  continues to discuss how people from Sefrou and its region reacted to the coming of the French,  for example, he states:  

 Shortly after the First World War, the French administration decided to build a school  for the training of Moroccan military officers. They chose the village of Sidi Lahcen,  both because of its excellent water supply and because it was already a focal point in  the region. A delegation was sent to the village to propose building the school as well  as a new road connecting Sefrou to Sidi Lahcen. The village elders, the Moqaddem

Hamid, and one of his brothers, the fqi Omar, also a highly respected religious teacher,  vigorously opposed the idea and prevailed upon the other villagers to reject the  proposal. The Moqaddem feared that if the school and road were built, the young men  of the village would be lured away from their Koranic studies and turned into  Christians. The villagers unanimously agreed to reject the offer. The French accepted  their decision and built the school instead at Ahermoumou, a Berber village, some  forty kilometers away. (1975, p.45-46)  

As we read in this quotation, the primary reason for the refusal of the building of the school  by the inhabitants is the fear of conversion from Islam to Christianity. Indeed, the village  elders took the coming of the French into consideration and thought deeply about it.  

 On the contrary, I noticed that the French presence in sefrou and its neighboring villages  were not always negative. To illustrate, Rabinow writes: “One of the factors instrumental in  altering the basis of village activity was the French support of the lawcourts./As we have seen,  the village’s importance stemmed from the complex of religious institutions: the village was a  sanctuary, its inhabitants were media-tors, it contained the baraka of Sidi Lahcen. The French  pacification of the countryside reduced to insignificance the importance of the sanctuary. The  role of mediators was eroded by the rise of the law courts as the primary institution for handling  disputes.” (p.48) In a word, this quotation tries to show the reader the positive side of French  colonialism. That is to say, the shift from old ways of handling disputes is now changing to a  more meaningful system. This idea is further explained in the following quote from Paul  Rabinow work of literature:  

 With the rise of the courts, “justice” became more of an individual and less of a  community affair. With the removal of the judicial process to Sefrou, the regional  focus diminished as other villagers no longer witnessed the public mediation.  Connections and understanding of the courts’ processes became crucial, and legitimacy  was no longer centered in the regional matrix. Consequently, if one had Sufficient  force, wealth, or influence, one could do as one liked. In the time of siba, people would  say: “If you do not heshem (if you are not embarrassed), you can do as you please.”  The controls were those of the community and sheer force. This expression changed  during the Protectorate to: “If you do not have money, your words are bitter” (ila  mandek l’flus, klamek messus). The tone changed from one where moralistic  considerations were central to one where force, influence, and connections (now  symbolized by money) were the prime considerations. (p.50).  

 In addition, Rabinow also discusses the French colonial presence in his book Reflections  on Fieldwork in Morocco. He writes: “The second day in Sefrou he told me his life story. He was  from an upper-middle-class Parisian family. He had left home in 1950 to seek adventure, ending up in  Morocco, where he had followed a series of professions ranging from mechanic to hotelkeeper. (1977,  p.13). This conversation shows how an anthropologist who comes to study Sefrioui life, meets a French  man who works in the hotel industry, a great example of the French presence in Sefrou Morocco.  Furthermore, Rabinow tries to show how a group of belated travellers suffers and this is what happens  for Richard when at Sefrou. He states: “  

 He arrived when opportunities for the average Frenchman were closing down, not opening  up. Instead, he confronted an active antagonism between the French and Moroccan  communities. Richard was too weak to escape or resist it. He found the now hardened lines  between the two communities too political to cross. Although his personal dealings with the  French community in Morocco were always painful for him. (1977, p.14).

 This quotation tells its audiences about the feelings of French people who joined the Moroccan  lands when this latter was going to gain its independence and opportunities for the fresh became less  available. Paul Rabinow deserves quotation here, for he says:  

 Richard was truly a remnant of dying colonialism, except that he had never reaped the earlier  rewards. Each morning Richard revved up his 1952 Ford and roared the kilometer and a half  into Sefrou to pick up his supplies. As there were almost never any guests at l’Oliveraie this  amounted to provisions for himself and his wife, the newspaper (Le Petit Marocain), and  some wine. Except for a little passing contact with the storekeepers and exchanges of  pleasantries with officials, Richard’s world was restricted to the wino cab drivers, his wife,  and two or three old French couples who accepted him as an equal. These last were people  who had been in Morocco for forty years and had made niches for themselves as handymen  or storekeepers. (1977, p.14-15).  

The whole chapter in which I quoted Richard’s encounter with the anthropologist Rabinow shows how  French people lived in Sefrou and its tribal areas. The following photograph shows Richard.  

Richard at ease in the Oliveraie,  
The last French bar in Sefrou

Finally, in an article entitled “Sidi Lahcen Blues”, Aziz Abbassi writes:  

 “When the French came, they found Sefrou a great site for the logistical center from which  to manage the administrative affairs of the surrounding Berber (Amazigh) tribes, They then  set out to establish the military apparatus and the juridical system. They chose to build their  military camps at two strategic elevations, one on top of a hill alongside the southbound road  that the country’s sultans once took on their annual visits to their native Tafilalet, and one  catty-corner from Sidi Ali Bousserghine. (2009, p.511).  

This quote also tries to portray the coming of the French culture to Sefrou Morocco, which is  significant, for they arrive with ideas in mind, for example, to make a change in the ruling systems and  establish schools that serve their interests. In a word, through many aspects of Moroccan life in Sefrou  such as clothes, language, people, engines, postcards, photography, hospitals, church, schools,  teachers, cafés, and bars, I could see the French colonial presence. Another very important thing that  I would like to mention is that researchers rely on diversified sources to document the French colonial  presence in Sefrou Morocco, for example, through stories, cultural encounters, photography and the  postcard, etc.  

 Finally, look at the following stamps which portray the French presence in the city of Sefrou:  French Influence on Postal Cards

The French have a very big influence on places like Sefrou. Sefrou being in Morocco,  which is known for being a francophone country, of course has a lot of French influence. With  that being said, another part of Sefrou is the Arabic influence that is found in the city. As you  can see these influences are both found on these stamps. This shows how two essential parts of  Sefrou are found on a common item found around the city, the postal card.  

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