Moroccan People | Aisha of Tamnougalt

by | Mar 28, 2024 | Moroccan People | 0 comments

The village of Tamnougalt is located in the Draa Valley. The Draa stretches from the High Atlas to the Atlantic Ocean. Moroccan people have lived here as far back as the mid-1600s. The focus of this article is a woman living in the ruins of this village.

Tamnougalt, Morocco

The village of Tamnougalt is situated in the Draa Valley.

Aisha is a woman in her mid-50s who lives in Tamnougalt, and inhabits a large dilapidated kasbah in the old part of town, surrounded by other kasbahs in various states of ruin. She keeps goats and sheep, but otherwise has no real source of income. She invited us to visit her kasbah. Moroccan people are known for their open hospitality. Aisha is no exception.

Moroccan People |Aisha of Tamnougalt

Aisha in a doorway of her kasbah.

Aisha’s Early History

Aisha was the only child of a very successful trader of wheat and flour. Before Aisha was born, her parents moved from Tagounite to Tamnougalt. Tamnougalt was the first stop for the caravans arriving from the Sahara. In those days, Tamnougalt was an important stop. Its name means ‘Meeting Point,’ and it was the capital of the Mezguita Region. Tamnougalt was home to the Caïd, or local governor. Moroccan people living in the region would gather together in the Caïd’s residence to socialize and share news.  People often brought disputes for the Caïd to settle.

Sixty years ago most of the kasbahs were inhabited and Tamnougalt was still thriving. Nowadays it is a sleepy village surrounded by date palm groves and dominated by the stunning mountain, Jebel Kissane. The family must have been very successful since they were able to buy a four story kasbah.   Aisha’s father died before she was born, so she never knew him. When her mother remarried, the new husband moved into the kasbah; however, there were no more children. Aisha became the sole inheritor. She was a very beautiful woman and had many suitors. Aisha confided to me that she had loved someone once, but her step-father refused all offers of marriage. She believes that he wanted the kasbah to remain in his family. However, after he and her mother died, the kasbah became Aisha’s.

Aisha of Tamnougalt

Aisha in front of her kasbah.

Aisha Lives Alone

In the rural areas of Morocco, women do not commonly work outside the family. I didn’t ask Aisha if she had gone to school, but I suspect she hadn’t. Females were not usually educated in the time of her childhood.  After the family wealth was gone, Aisha depended on the charity of others to keep her going. As we climbed the stairs of her kasbah, I noticed that the floors and corridors were covered in grains and grasses. She explained that she dries them to provide food for the goats and sheep during winter. While her parents were still living, these areas would have been used for clients, visitors and people of note. I imagine they would have been decorated splendidly.

Aisha lives in a couple of rooms on the top floor of the kasbah. Her kitchen is in this area. She uses a mud brick stand for boiling water and a clay oven for baking bread. There is no running water, so water has to be brought upstairs in pails or bottles.

She is Unafraid

I asked Aisha if she was afraid to live in the kasbah all on her own, but she laughed. She started singing loudly to herself and danced to show me that she doesn’t care what anybody thinks. She feels free to be herself at home. Aisha showed me a small archaic TV. It is obviously something she treasures. She watches musical performances and sings along with them. Aisha never stopped talking while we were with her.  She smiled and laughed a great deal, chatting as if we could understand her. It was clear she wanted to connect with us. We all laughed about the language difficulties. Her body language meant everything; we were welcome. Moroccan people are warm and genuine. You’ll find you’ll always have an invitation to visit a Moroccan home.

I’d like to add a few words about my guest author, Margaret Cornfield.  Margaret and Frank Cornfield started out as clients, and have become very dear friends. Frank is an amazing photographer, as seen by the images throughout the article. See more of his work at Margaret is a talented writer and fellow lover of Morocco. It’s an honor to have her as a guest blogger. As an aside, if you happen to be traveling through Scotland, Frank and Margaret own a cozy B&B, Lochleven, found in the beautiful village of Killin. Killin is nestled in the historic area of Breadalbane.

View our photo gallery for more Tamnougalt images taken by Margaret’s husband, Frank Cornfield.

Moroccan People | Aisha of Tamnougalt

Margaret and Aisha in Tamnougalt.

Find out HERE out how you can get to know individuals such as Aisha by traveling to Morocco with us.

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