When the young Moroccan Ali arrived in Louc, the cold Belgian city whose sky was covered in smoke from the nearby coal mines, his money had almost run out, after he paid a large amount for the taxi that took him from the train station to take him to “Al-Qassab Muhammad”, the son of his country who preceded him to work. in Belgium.
Ali will not stay long in Belgium, but his great ambition will take him to the Netherlands, which he will reach in 1964, and years before the beginning of the organized migration of Moroccan workers to the European country, which was supervised by the Dutch government, to work in factories and in projects to rebuild the Netherlands that destroyed the World War. The second is much of its cities. Read also A diverse mix of ancient ancestral lineages … modern Europeans trace back to Asian and African ancestry”Beirut is no longer like us” … the intellectuals of the Lebanese capital and the disappointments after the destruction of their cultural incubator British writer: “Season of Migration to the North” is the most important Arab novel Exile messages … migration and asylum between Palestinian and Syrian literature
The 39-year-old writer had recorded over the years the memories of the grandfather on audio tapes, and kept them until the death of the grandfather years ago, to return to them and draw inspiration from his new intimate book.
The book does not begin with Ali’s arrival on the European continent, but rather describes life in the rural mountainous region of Morocco, which was marked by cruelty and lack of resources. The village in which Ali was born did not have a school, job opportunities are very scarce, and the dream of many young people in the region is to emigrate. To cities and countries near or far to work there to help their families in the village.
Ali was not satisfied with the surrounding circumstances, and at a very early age he began thinking about leaving the village, and he would travel to nearby Algeria for work, before he was deported from it, and at the end of the fifties of the last century he would serve in the Spanish army, which was employing soldiers from Morocco at the time.
Despite the age of 28, his marriage and the birth of two children in his village, Ali decides to start a new journey to find work that will take him this time to the heart of Europe and end with him in the Netherlands, where he settled and brought his family to it.
Arduous work and exploitation
Europe in the early sixties of the last century did not resemble contemporary Europe today, as it was at that time in the process of recovering from the wounds of World War II, and job opportunities were not available to all, and want was eating away at the poor classes.
The book describes Ali’s shift between the arduous manual labor he carried out in his early years in Europe. Like many Moroccan immigrants, they did not bear the cruelty of working in the coal mines that were widespread in Europe at that time, and left them to search for other work.
And the working conditions were not the only thing that was burdening workers like Ali, because they suffered exploitation, as some factory owners at that time took advantage of their lack of knowledge of European languages, and paid them wages that were lower than the wages of their fellow countrymen, or European immigrants from southern Europe, so it is known. The rich European countries witnessed massive immigration at the beginning of the 1960s from less wealthy European countries such as Italy and Spain.
The book describes the daily life of workers at that time, and how they suffered from loneliness and extreme estrangement, as most of them did not speak the local languages in Europe, and the means of communication were not available as they are today, and the homelands were far away, and access to them required the payment of large sums of money.
Ali’s conditions will gradually improve, and he will win the love of his bosses at work, and one of the factories in which he worked will help him to facilitate inviting his wife and children to live in the Netherlands, and this was very uncommon in the Netherlands, as he was waiting for migrant workers to return to their countries after years of their work, until Some factories were withholding the price of the return ticket from the workers’ salaries, in order to pay it in the event that one of them could not pay the wages himself.
A reading of historical conditions
Writer Khaled Moorej places his grandfather’s own story in historical and social contexts. He reviews and recalls historical events in Morocco, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands. He recalls, for example, the working conditions in the giant factories that existed in the Netherlands, and have almost disappeared today.
As well as restore the Dutch state’s relationship with immigrants, which has been attracting great interest for years from Dutch politicians.
Although Ali had traveled with his own efforts to the Netherlands, he would be part of the Moroccan community in the 1960s, which was stigmatized at times by stereotypical judgments, and there was no investment in improving their living conditions at that time.
Fatigue parents and children’s arguments
The introduction to the book “A Guest from the Rif Mountains” draws attention to the necessity of understanding history and reading it again in order to understand the present, especially in the case of the children and grandchildren of Moroccan immigrants in the Netherlands, who today constitute one of the huge communities in the European country, and a constant source of controversy in the last 20 years.
The author is surprised by the scarcity of books and studies that focus on the stories of the first Moroccan immigrants to the Netherlands, and the importance of these studies to understand and appreciate the role that these Moroccans played in the economic renaissance that the Netherlands is witnessing today, as well as to restore respect for a character such as Ali, the young man who worked hard his whole life and raised a family Great in the Netherlands.
Khaled Morig works as a professor of linguistics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, and holds a doctorate in colloquial Amazigh and Arabic for Dutch people of Moroccan origin, as well as authored and contributed to writing books on the grammar of the Amazigh language.