Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Fight Worth Winning

Magnet # 211:  Moroccan Flag

Material:  Metal, Paper, Mylar Shell

Purchased By:  Mom & Dad

It was on this day in 1956 that Morocco gained its complete independence from France. Unlike many other countries, it had been under the rule of two different powers simultaneously. Both France and Spain managed to take control of Morocco in the early 1900's, with Spain gaining control the northern territories and a strip of land in the south.  France took everything else.  Fortunately, a meeting of major powers in 1906 allowed Morocco to maintain some sense of sovereignty, but when France deployed troops to it the next year in response to the increasing tensions between the natives and the Europeans, the Moroccans were furious.  Eventually, due to escalating tensions, in 1912, their Sultan had no choice but to sign a treaty that gave France complete control over the country, with Spain maintaining its holdings.  In the twenties, Moroccan rebels began fighting to regain their country's freedom.  Although they were defeated, others continued to appeal for their political rights and when France rejected their attempts, demonstrations broke out around the country.  But before any resolution could be gained, World War II broke out.  Morocco saw some action during the war, including fighting between the Allies and the Axis forces, and a critical meeting between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Casablanca to plan war strategy.  Nonetheless, after the war was over, the French continued to refuse to give Morocco its freedom.  And when the Moroccans began to resort violence, they put its Sultan in exile.  This was the final insult to the natives and they began to openly wage war with the French soldiers.  In 1955, France finally backed down, restoring the Sultan to power and agreeing to restore independence to the country.  And it was on this day that the Moroccans at last gained back all of its land from the French.  Of course, Spain has kept some of its holdings there and even now has two cities in its control.  But, for the most part, the Moroccans have their country back and they are satisfied.

Nowadays, Morocco is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Africa. With its incredibly diverse heritage - it has been settled by Sub-Saharan Africans, Jews and Arabs from the East, and Romans and Vandals from the north - it has become an eclectic mix of many cultures. Because of this, it has an architecture and style all its own. Moroccan buildings tend to look like traditional Arab buildings, but they also have a great deal of ornamentation and detail that give them a distinctive look.  And when they are combined with the country's stunning land regions - its coastal lowlands on both the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, the Atlas mountain chain in the middle of the country, and the Sahara Desert in its southern and eastern territories - they become even more impressive.  Morocco also has a distinctive national cuisine.  Couscous, which is made up of wheat in tiny granules, is the most popular dish of the country, and the tagine, which is cooked in a special clay pot for which it is named, is also found all over the country.  When my parents went to Morocco about five years ago, they had a great deal of tagine featuring meats such as lamb, beef, and fish.  But they found, as did their companions, that although tagine is very tasty, eating it every day for a week can get old.  In fact, one day they had dinner at an Italian restaurant for a change.  But they really did enjoy their traditional Moroccan meals - in fact, my Mom said the pigeon pie they had was incredibly tasty, with all sorts of spices.  They really had a great time on their trip there.  And if you've never considered seeing this stunning country for yourself, you might want to give it a try.  There is a great deal there that was the Moroccans worth fighting for, and they've done a great job making it appealing to visitors from around the world.

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