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North Africa

The Red Sea.

North Africa: ° Algeria ° Egypt ° Libya ° Morocco ° Sudan
West Africa: ° Benin ° Cameroon ° Congo ° Cote d'Ivoire ° Gabon ° (Republic of the) Gambia ° Ghana ° Guinea ° Liberia ° Mauritania ° Mozambique ° Nigeria ° Sao Tome and Principe ° Senegal (Dakar) ° Sierra Leone
East Africa (The Horn of Africa): ° Djibouti ° Kenya ° Eritrea ° Madagascar ° Somalia ° Sudan ° Tanzania ° Zanzibar


° Agadir ° Casablanca ° Nador Rabat ° Tangier

North Africa was once one of the richest provinces of the Roman Empire. In the 3rd century AD the Imperial family, a third of the Roman senate and a third of the knights came from North Africa. Morocco was on the fringe of this golden age. No road connected it to the rest of North Africa and it was more often than not treated as a subsidiary of Spain.Safi, Morocco.

Unlike other North African nations, Morocco has been largely occupied by one group people for as long as recorded history can recall. The Berbers, or Imazighen (men of the land), settled in the area thousands of years ago and at one time controlled all of the land between Morocco and Egypt. Divided into clans and tribes, they have always jealously guarded their independence. It's this fierce independence that has helped preserve one of Africa's most fascinating cultures.

The early Berbers were unmoved by the colonizing Phoenicians and Romans, although the Romans ushered in a long period of peace during which many cities were founded, and the Berbers of the coastal plains became city dwellers.

When Christianity arrived in the 3rd Century AD, the Berbers asserted their traditional dislike of centralised authority by following Donatus (a Christian sect leader who claimed that the Donatists alone constituted the true church). The Arab armies bought Islam to Morocco in the 7th century and controlled all of North Africa by the start of the 8th century. By the next century much of North Africa had fragmented, with the move towards a united Morocco steadily growing. A fundamentalist Berber movement emerged from the chaos caused by the Arab invasion, overrunning Morocco and Muslim Andalusia (in Spain). The Almoravids founded Marrakesh as their capital, but they were soon replaced by the Almohads.

After a number of short-lived dynasties rose and fell, the Alawite family secured a stranglehold in the 1630s that kept Morocco independent for more than three centuries. In the early 1800s, Moroccan piracy in the Mediterranean was a huge problem for Britain and the US. Late in that century, France, Spain and Germany all wanted Morocco for its strategic position and rich trade resources. France won out and occupied virtually the entire country by 1912. Spain clung to a small coastal protectorate and Tangier was declared an international zone. The first French resident-general, Marshal Lyautey, respected the Arab culture and made Rabat on the Atlantic coast the new capital and developed the port of Casablanca.

April 2, 1895, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.


Among the Savages in Far Away Morocco
Strangely Picturesque Villages of the Savage Tribes
Graphic Descriptions of Many Curious Characters in a Land Where Savagery Still Exists
-- The Beggars

Special Correspondence to The Herald.

Tangier, Morocco, Africa, Fob. 28. 1t was about 10 o'clock In the morning when we left our hotel at Tangier in company with Dr. Barclay, our American vice consul, for a jaunt into the country. In the true style of this part of Africa we sauntered along in single file on the backs of donkeys and slowly wound our way through the narrow, crooked lanes perfumed with the atrocious rancid oil employed by the Arabs in frying cakes. We occasionally passed a camel, with a majestically stupid air, bearing wood and charcoal, and small donkeys heavily laden with goatskins full of oil.

The water carrier, too, was present, with a pigskin of water on his back and a brass cup and bell in his hands, lustily calling out to the passersby. On the sides of the streets sat letter writers, money changers and nuns iv their long flowing robes, sitting cross legged in their small bazaars filled with oriental stuffs of all colors and kinds. Beggars, too, are here, generally in couples, one rapping away on a tom-tom, the other playing a grotesque bagpipe and both singing an unearthly doleful tune.

And what are those figures completely covered in white that flit about so silently in this medley of human life? Are they spirits? No; two bright black eyes flash beneath tho enveloping haik. They are Moorish women.

We have now reached the white beach of the blue bay of Tangier. A different scene presents itself. The morning is perfect. The sun shines as brightly as In Juno. Pretty villas adorn some of the hills in the distance, with their white, square boxlike houses surrounded by the orange, lemon, date, palm and all kinds of tropical plants.

Leaving the beach, we see the Moorish shepherds tending their Hocks in the green fields, and the farmers, clad in their white turbans and long white tunics coming to the knee, are following the oxen that draw their wooden plows, resembling those represented on the old monuments of Egypt and Asia Minor. Luckily the fertile soil requires but little cultivating. Even now the fields are ablaze with the brilliant flowers of the geranium, iris, tulip, violet and narcissus. What must it be in spring?

But our attention was now directed to the peculiar looking Moorish villages that crown several of the surrounding bills, and we were soon on route for the nearest village by n narrow path about ton feet wide wit h a wall of century plants on each side. Cobblestones of all shapes and sizes formed a pavement resembling a river bed in a drought. We immediately encountered two dangers that of being jolted off as our donkeys scrambled over the uneven stones and that of being speared by the projecting, needle pointed leaves of the cactus. As we advanced the hill became steeper. When about half way up, our donkeys stopped and refused to move, and only after much coaxing and shrieking of the Arabic Arrerio did they consent to go not in a straight line, hut in fence corners, going from one side to the other to secure their footing.

When mine reached the top, he celebrated the victory by plunging into the town, running against, the projecting eaves of one of the low thatched huts and landing me on the ground. I had scarcely gathered myself up when a woman in the peculiar Moorish garb, with a baby strapped upon her back, came up to me. She said something In Arabic which I tried to interpret as sympathy for my misfortune. Her face was uncovered and her chin tattooed, which told that she belonged to the Riff tribe. This tribe claims to be the pure descendants of the ancient Berbers, the original white race of northern Africa, according to Herodotus. Here they are usually spoken of as Moors or Arabs, though distinct from each, from the former In their fairer complexions and fanatical hatred of tho Christians, from the latter In preferring a hut to a tent and in generally traveling and fighting afoot. They are the most cruel and savage tribe in Morocco.

1908. Morocco. Moorish Coffee House. Algiers.

They are almost always at war, not only with their neighbors, but among themselves. Their feuds at present make it dangerous for the traveler to go from Tangier to Tetuan. The Morocco government encourages their animosities in the hope of weakening their power and strength, which, if united, would be most dangerous to the country. The men dress In a sleeveless woolen jacket and trousers, with occasionally a blanket or a baracan over it. Their heads are closely shaven with the exception of one long lock behind, which they carefully guard, for without it they could not be pulled into heaven. They wear short mustaches and a small tuft of beard on the chin and go mostly bareheaded and barefooted.

But my companions have now arrived. "You must get on at once," said Dr. Barclay, "for these Riffs were never known to cull their savage dogs from the hated Christian." I had scarcely regained my saddle when a dog, apparently a relative of the American coyote, appeared. He yelled, barked and growled and became a faithful attendant of our donkeys' heels as we passed on through the village. Women and children were sitting near the open doorways. But where are all the men? They are either tending their flocks or perhaps out on the forage, while their women remain at home to protect their scanty huts and their miserable half naked offspring. Some of the women are grinding corn between two large stones, some are washing clothes in peculiar old earthen pans and others are busily engaged in making the Moorish rugs so highly prized in the western market. The kitchen, too, is often in the open air, for some are cooking over little charcoal fires.

In the center of the village is a large square house freshly whitewashed. On its flat roof stands a black women in a fantastic costume of many colors and large golden hoops In her ears. As we look up she smiles and displays a brand on her cheek, which tells that she is a bond woman.

Slavery still exists in Morocco. The old slave market of Tangier is now a thing of the past, but private buying and selling of the negroes brought from Sudan still goes on.

We now need an opening in the formidable wall of prickly cactus. Through it we are glad to make our escape, as our first dog has enlisted recruits too numerous and ferocious to make a longer stay agreeable, And we bid adieu to the Moorish village, heading a procession of barking curs, which are no doubt in the minds of the Moslems fit escorts for Christian dogs like ourselves.

- Jennie Pomerine

November 8, 1896, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Most Notorious Thieves in the World's History
The Rifs Have Plundered Vessels for Centuries

France Has Determined to Wipe Them Out and Incidentally Change the Map of Africa.

It is generally supposed that pirates no longer exist, except in the lurid literature sold to small boys. This is a mistake. France has just fitted out three warships for the purpose of wiping out a nation of pirates, and Spain stands ready to help France, if any help be needed.

The pirates are the Rifs of Morocco.

Long before the dawn of the Christian era these people were pirates, and they are just as much in the business today as ever. Century after century they have plundered on sea and on laud, and none of the great powers have been ambitious to declare war upon them and bring them to terms. This is all the more strange for the reason that the great modern guns of the English, mounted on the rock of Gibraltar, could almost throw a projectile across the strait and into the country inhabited by the pirates. Rlf means "the coast" in the native language, and while the Rifflans are nominally the subjects of the sultan of Morocco, he has as much control over them as he has over the Indians of Alaska. All of the resources of Moorish ferocity, cruelty, craft and power have been employed to bring the Riffian to. terms, but without success. The sultan of Morocco if not a peaceful gentleman, by any means, and deeds of gross inhumanity are of common occurrence with him, but he is not the equal of the Rlf pirate in these matters. The Rif country is not extensive, being but fifty-eight mill s wide and 210 miles in length, but if the sultan could control it, it would yield rich returns to his tax-gatherers. Moreover. It could be made of immense commercial value, as it includes all of that part of Morocco fronting upon the Mediterranean sea, running from the city of Centa, which is directly opposite, to the boundary line halving Algeria and Morocco.


A few weeks ago a swarm of Rif pirates in their peculiar little boats called feluccas sailed out to the French ship Corinte. overpowered the crew and plundered her. While they were at work the Spanish steamship Sevilla came to the rescues of the Frenchmen, but the pirates swarmed up on the decks of the Seviila, killed five men, gathered up a lot of booty and then disappeared.

When the news of this outrageous act reached the French people they were angry, but the statesman of France were mightily pleased. The outrage has given them an excuse for descending upon the Rif country, conquering it t and adding it to their already large possessions in Algeria.

There would be no use appealing to the sultan of Morocco for redress, for, as has been stated, he is powerless to punish the ruffians He could be made to pay immense damages for the depredations of his nominal subjects, but France prefers to seek her own vengeance and collect her own damages. These latter will probably take the form of the whole Rif country, and, if accomplished, it will be the first step on the part of a European power to break into the territory of the sultanate of Morocco.

Morocco is classed with other small portions of Africa under the sinister head of "unappropriated." But if the plans of the French succeed this will have to be changed, as well as the map of Africa. If the sultan of Morocco should show fight against the French he would be in danger of losing the whole of his kingdom, as other European nations would not be likely to interfere in his behalf while France and Russia are so closely attached.


Not the least curious thing about the Riffians is that nothing, or comparatively nothing is know about them, although their country is nearer to southern Europe than any other in northern Africa. The reason of this is their barbarous cruelty and hostility to all strangers. The most venturesome tourists never travel into their territory, as such a venture would be certain death. Two or three men by disguising themselves as Moors have within the past twenty years succeeded in making some investigations of the country, but nothing of a certain and extensive character has been gleaned. It is estimated that the population of the Rif country is about 105,000. They are not Moors, but come of Berber or aboriginal stock. They are Mohammedans, but they would murder one of their own religious belief as soon as they would kill a Christian. They are divided Into countless little tribes, and when they have nothing better to do fight among themselves. But on a threatened invasion by the regular forces of the sultan they flock together and present a united front to the enemy.


The Music of Morocco.

The Rifs are well armed and know how to use the modern munitions of war with considerable skill. Within the past year they have plundered about a dozen vessels, and the crews of these have reported that the pirates had rifles of recent make. They wear body sashes holding many knives and pistols, and in boarding vessels always use short swords or daggers in preference to firearms. The last venturesome explorer who succeeded in getting a partial glimpse of the Rif country was an Englishman named Harris. Disguised as a Moorish trader, with his arms and legs stained a deep brown, he managed to avoid detection for some months. He spoke Arabic fairly well, but deemed it wiser to pose as a deaf mute. He was accompanied by an Arab boy who did all the talking, and who proved a valuable assistant. This trip was made in 1888.

This explorer found that the Lesser Atlas mountains, which run along the Rlf country parallel with the coast, were splendidly fortified with cannon. Every Rif native is something of a blacksmith and armorer, understanding how to mold bullets, make powder and to repair guns. They buy their guns by making secret Journeys to Algerian and Spanish ports, and it is believed that they exchange their plunder with certain traders for whatever they need. Moorish customs officers have endeavored to break up the traffic and thereby cripple the Rifflans, but the latter worsted them so badly that of late years they have done as they pleased. It remains to be seen what the French will do with them. A French cruiser has been ordered from Toulon to the Rif coast, and Admiral Gervals, commander of the Mediterranean squadron, has, under orders from Paris, sent the cruiser Troude and the dispatch boat D'lbervllle to the scene of what promises to be a bloody conflict.


The origins of Casablanca trace to the medieval town of Anfa set on a small plateau which is now one of the city's suburbs. Anfa became the capital of a Berber principality in the aftermath of the Arab invasions of the 7th and 8th centuries. The Berbers embraced Islam but quickly succumbed to heretical doctrines, setting up their own prophet and a "qur'an" in Berber language.

Under the reign of Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah (1757-1790) the town was rebuilt with a mosque, madrasah, hammam and a fort and renamed Dar Al Beida (The White House) which the Spanish eventually translated to Casablanca after trade became well established with merchants from Cadiz and Madrid.

Rabat. Morocco. 1903.

After a rebellion led by the Caid of Dar Al Beida Zawiyya, Sultan Moulay Sliman closed the port and diverted all trading with Europe to Rabat.

In 1830 Sultan Moulay Abdal Rahman re-opened Dar Al Beida harbour but business remained sluggish for some time and the city remained small with a population of no more than 600.

In the mid-19th century Casablanca began to grow as a result of regular sea traffic between Europe and Morocco. European textile manufacturers needed new sources of raw materials, and French merchants arrived to negotiate the purchase of Moroccan cereals.

Commercial relations between Casablanca and Europe became stronger with the development of the city's harbour facilities and the establishment of regular maritime services between Morocco and Marseilles. French influence in Morocco increased throughout the remainder of the 19th century.


This three thousand year-old trading city commands the one generous bay on the southern shore of the Straits of Gibraltar. According to Greek mythology Tangier, or Tingi, was founded by the giant Anteus. Tingi is mentioned by Carthaginian travellers as early as 500 B.C. and is known to have been visited by Phoenician sailors earlier than that.

After the destruction of Carthage, Tingi was affiliated with the Berber kingdom of Mauretania. It then became an autonomous state under Roman protection, eventually becoming a Roman colony in the 3rd century A.D., and the capital of Roman Morocco, and ending as the capitol of Mauretania Tingitana.

By the 14th century Tangier became a major Mediterranean port frequented by European trading vessels bringing cloth, spices, metals and hunting birds in exchange for leather, wool, carpets, cereals and sugar. For nearly three centuries the town was passed back and forth between the Spanish, Portuguese and finally the English, when it was given to Charles II as part of the dowry from Catherine of Braganza.

The English granted Tangier a charter which made the city equal to English towns.

By then, Tangier was an international port city, which the British ruled until Sultan Moulay Ismail imposed a blockade which forced the British to withdraw. Upon leaving, the British destroyed the city and its port.

Although partially reconstructed, the city declined to around 5000 people in early 1800s, but it continued to garner interest from world powers seeking to control the city because of its strategic location.

August 27, 1900, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Morocco Must Pay for the Killers of a Naturalized American Citizen

Tangier, Morocco, August 26. A United States warship has arrived here to support the claim arising from the murder last June of Marcos Essagin, a naturalized American citizen, who was the manager of a French firm.

Essagin, while riding on horseback, jolted against the mule of a Morocco priest. A dispute ensued, during which Essagin, in self-defense, drew his revolver and fired, wounding a native. This was the signal of a general attack upon the American, who received dozens of knife wounds and whose body was buried, according to some accounts, before life was extinct.

November 24, 1887, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.


Felix A. Matthews Describes Their Manners and Customs.
Still They Have Gained Control of the Country in Commerce, Wealth and Agriculture.

There was a large attendance last evening at the vestry rooms of Temple Emanu-El, it having been announced that Hon. Felix A. Matthews, ex-United States Consul-General to Morocco, would lecture on the condition of the Hebrews in that country.

Dr. Voorsanger introduced the speaker, who was cordially received by the audience. Mr. Matthews is a tall, broad-shouldered man, of striking appearance. He served under General Grant in the war, and was for eighteen years Consul-General at Morocco, having entered on his duties there in 1865. He has given much study to the Jewish question in Morocco and has undoubtedly helped materially to ameliorate their condition. In the course of his address Mr. Matthews spoke substantially as follows: The climate of Morocco is similar to that of California.

Two Thousand Years of Jewish History in Morocco. Haim Zafrani.

It is a pleasant country, diversified by rivers and mountains. The soil is fertile and will grow anything, but the jealousy and oppression of the government prevent its development. The people are not allowed to export any grain for fear of famine, consequently there are but small patches of land cultivated. The mineral resources of the country are great, but are also not developed, as the government fears that should their richness be known some European power would be tempted to seize upon the country. The population is 8,000,000 and consists of Berbers, Arabs and Moors. There are 450,000 Jews and about 400,000 Christians. The Berbers inhabit the inaccessible steppes of the Atlas range. They are an independent people, of great bravery, submitting only to their chieftains, who are elected by the people. There are many Jews among them who are not the descendants of those who were exiled from Spain in the fourteenth century, as are the Northern Moorish Jews, but had originally come from Egypt, Tunis and Algiers. In northern Morocco the Jews are gradually degenerating in spirit, but those of the Atlas aro fierce warriors, makers of their own arms and utensils. They are nomadic and predatory, and are valuable allies to the Berbers.

In appearance they are warlike in the extreme. They wear their hair short on the head, but with ringlets falling over the ears. Their costume consists of a short jacket, flowing trousers and a sash about the waist, in which they keep a dagger and their crook-handled pistols. When mounted on horseback, with their provisions behind them, they look the very beau-ideal of a warrior. When Mr. Matthews arrived in Tangiers, in 1852, the Jews were compelled by the Moors to walk barefooted through the sacred grounds surrounding the mosques and even in the Moorish portions of the town. They were used as slaves and compelled to perform all kinds of degrading work The bombardment of that town by the French government put a stop to a great deal of this oppression, which was further stopped by the war between Spain and Morocco, beginning in 1859, in which the former nation was victorious and received an indemnity of $20,000,000.

The late Sir Moses Montefiore, the philanthropist, visited Morocco in 1801. He was well received by the Emperor, who promised to stop the persecution of his Jewish subjects. These were only promises, however, and shortly afterward there was a return to the old state of things. The united efforts of the different ambassadors and consuls had helped greatly to ameliorate tne condition of the Jews. This was shown by the fact that in 1852 there were but four pianos in the town of Tangiers, which were at the various legations. At the present day every Jewish family has one. Today the Jews are well educated, most of them speaking several languages. They have changed in dress also. They no longer dress in the gaudy Oriental fashion, but in modern European style; except the most conservative. There are two schools in Tangiers, one for males and the other for females, under the control of the Anglo-Hebrew Association. There are examinations twice a year, at which the various ambassadors are present. They are better and stricter than the schools of this country.

The general belief that the Moors are the wealthiest class is a mistake. The Jews, notwithstanding the centuries of persecution, have acquired control of the commerce, trade and banking of the country. The Berbers are pastoral and mostly nomadic. The Jews are also mechanics and professional men and control agriculture with their money. The Hebrews of Morocco are stricter in their religion than their brethren in other countries. Their Sunday commences Friday night and on Saturday they will not do any business even to the changing of money. They will not eat anything once touched by gentile hands. Their holidays and feast days are sacredly observed.

Morocco.The speaker thought it was much to the credit of the Jews that, notwithstanding oppression and persecution, they had risen to be masters where they had been slaves. In most of the cities they are no longer compelled, to live in "ghettos" or walk barefooted, but can hold up their heads as men. The speaker paid a delicate tribute to the Jewish women of Morocco, and related anecdotes which seemed to show that they were superior in fortitude to the men, having suffered even martyrdom at the stake rather than forsake their faith and turn to Mohammedanism. The lecturer concluded by pointing out the advantage of being a citizen of the United States, where there is freedom of speech and religion.

November 17, 1903, Los Angeles Herald, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Fugitive Jews Tell Tales of Atrocities

Tangier, Morocco, November 16. A hundred Moorish Jews, fugitives from Tasa, have arrived at Marnia. They say the sultan's troops, while in occupation of Tass, massacred many Jews and outraged women and girls.

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