We have been in Rabat for the first rains of the season. First rain. Not a phrase one uses in London particularly, however, here, by all accounts it has significance.
Firstly, Morocco is dependent on the rain at a fundamental level for food, especially in rural areas where market gardening remains both an important source of income as well as providing families with key staples.
Secondly, contemporary Moroccan society carries a living memory of acute drought. In the 1980’s, the rains failed in three successive years. Many people lost their livelihoods, people died, and the drought triggered a massive wave of urbanization. The key cities of Morocco – Casablanca, Marrakesh, Fez, Tangiers, Meknes, Rabat – have been shaped by those drought years. For Moroccans, there is a memory of drought – one women I met talked nostalgically of Meknes as being a “Little Paris” pre the drought, when I was there eight years ago I am being generous when I describe it as dusty – so the cities have changed, society has changed in an incredibly short period of time.
Perhaps that is what Moroccans think about as they sit in traffic jams in Rabat, as we did, caused by the torrential downpours.