Mar 23, 2012

Gnawa: The Music of Black Morocco

Picture from here.

Did you know that Morocco had slaves at one time? The term Gnawa has three important meanings. First, it refers to black people who were enslaved in West Africa, they came primarily from the areas of present day Mali, Burkina Fasso, and Senegal to the Maghreb, between the 15th and 16th centuries. These black slaves served as soldiers for the ruling dynasties of Morocco. With time, the enslaved were freed by manumission, escape, and other circumstances, and formed various communities. 

The picture came from here.
 Secondly, Gnawa music is a spiritual music within Islam, with reference to their origin and their enslavement. Gnawa music is mainly a prayer to glorify Allah and a celebration of life and freedom as their ‘masters’ who enslaved their bodies failed to enslave their souls.

Thirdly, it is the style of music by the displaced and enslaved people brought to Morocco.  Their music has a soulfulness to it, which I really like. 

The song in the video is Sidi Moussa.