Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Winds of Change

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything for my blog … I’ve thought about it many times but I guess I just wasn’t in the mood. And that’s strange because I’ve been observing more and more of everyday life recently and descriptions and thoughts fill my head as I take it all in.

There is so much going on and yet so much seems the same. But take Egypt. Everyone was full of talk about it and how it would never happen in Morocco. But just today a Moroccan told me he thought there was “a 20% chance” of something similar taking place in the Maghreb. Great. Just after I received an email from the States saying word of unrest in Morocco was filtering through and I reassured everyone that all is peaceful here.

And as for as I can tell it is peaceful here. I’ve never felt any strong undercurrent of discontent here and life is pretty good.

“Well how would something like Egypt happen in Morocco” I asked the man who thought 20% of Moroccans were ready to revolt. “You have a king. You don’t have a problem with him …”

“No, no. Not the king. The government. All the corruption..” he replied. “And remember, there’s an 80% chance nothing will happen” he added.

I was somewhat reassured but sensed something was afoot. For just that morning I had been told a story about a young man being stopped by the traffic control police and given a 300 dirham citation for not having a working light over his license plate. The policeman insisted that the fine was non-negotiable and refused to take any money to overlook the infraction. That was novel.

But then again I had just read how the government has dedicated additional monies in 2011 to subsidize some basic necessities. Already, the article stated, oil, flour, sugar and other commodities are heavily subsidized by the government. The officials reporting the news stated they wanted to make sure those living in poverty did not go hungry. And new jobs – to the tune of 5,000 for those with doctoral degrees -- will soon become available. That’s good news, too.

All I can say is with the winds of change blowing through North Africa, there seems to be a wonderful opportunity for great things to happen in this part of the world. And Morocco -- in my experience -- is the very best place to observe what happens next.