The remote Ait Bouguemez valley is situated in the middle of the Moroccan High Atlas mountains at 1800m above sea level and far removed from the nearest cities. The inhabitants of the valley are Berbers, who live from their small farms and livestock and, in the summer months, also from growing tourism. The valley enjoys a Central European climate with mild-warm summers and cold winters with snow. Life here is characterised by the rhythm of the seasons and raw nature. The way of life of the people of the valley is still very ancient in many respects and most work is carried out, as it always has been, homogenously and communally; people rely on each other and the individual takes second place to the group.
The valley stretches over several kilometres and consists of many small villages. Almost every village has a mosque, small grocer’s shops and a public primary school, in which teaching takes place in cramped spaces and in the most basic conditions. Teaching is in Arabic. Most children have great difficulty following the curriculum because their native language, the Berber dialect Tachelheït, is completely different from Arabic. This means that many adults are still, as before, illiterate and only a very few children continue their education in the main town of Tabant after the six compulsory school years. Therefore, the knowledge imparted tends not to stick particularly well.
Thanks to modern technology, such as television and more recently the internet, general education has experienced something of a boost, however modern media has also weakened community bonds and traditions and fed unrealistic yearnings. Due to the relatively new paved road that connects the valley with the outside world, electricity and growing numbers of visitors, the lives of the people are experiencing rapid change right now. This means that the local people are confronted, more and more and year by year, with the choice between their traditional way of life and the modern world, while become increasingly aware of cultural differences and the divide between rich and poor. Environmental pollution, rural exodus, unemployment and a growing dissatisfaction amongst the young people are unfortunately becoming increasingly noticeable.
A valley looks towards new horizons: campus vivant’e is here!