A festival with a future
Last year, the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Festival, which started in New York and continued to Washington and Paris before the grand finale in Essaouira, was a great source of pride, of satisfaction, and of hope for our team. The pride of having travelled so far in spite of all adversity, the satisfaction of seeing gnaoua music occupy the place that it deserves and the flame of this project still burning strong throughout the years, and, finally, the hope embodied by the rise of a new generation of artists and festivalgoers.
This year, the 21st edition does just this: focus on this new generation of maâlems. Hailing from Essaouira, Marrakech, and Casablanca, young maâlems are taking up the torch from their elders to perpetuate this major art form in our country, whose reputation and influence extended beyond our borders long ago.
Powered by its values of fraternity and the right to dignity and universality, the Festival continues to grow and gain visibility, and remains true to the mission formulated over twenty years ago: to make the art of the Gnaoua a perfect symbol of Moroccan and African culture, and to establish Essaouira as one of the great international cities of culture.
Whether on the fringe or as part of the Festival’s program, over the course of a few days Essaouira will be home to many encounters, which will focus on several essential themes.
One of this year’s fringe events will be the Meeting of the Coalition of Arab Cities against racism, discrimination, xenophobia, and intolerance, in the context of a program initiated in 2008 by UNESCO, and entitled “International Coalition of Cities Against Racism, Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Intolerance”.
Also in parallel to the Festival, Essaouira will welcome the 12th symposium of ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music), a non-governmental organisation that promotes the study, practice, documentation, conservation and diffusion of traditional music and dance in all countries.
And, in the context our partnership with The National Council on Human Rights, we organise for the 7th year in a row the Human Rights Forum, whose theme this year is “The Imperative of Equality”.
A subject that is close to our hearts, in many respects.
I take this opportunity to remark that the Festival would never have seen the light of day without a handful of women who co-founded, co-produced, co-organised or co-sponsored the event from the start. I would like to draw attention to the fact that our team has always been primarily led by women, women who have waged battle for this project to thrive and shine. To all these brave, hard-working, and fearless fighting women, I say a heartfelt thank you!
Enjoy the Festival!