Saturday, June 12, 2010

Oh crap! I'm an Arab

Identity is not my forte, it's a perpetual confusion. The simple, obvious answer is that I am Moroccan. What's a Moroccan is neither simple nor obvious, obviously..

I believe what one is is what one claims to be. That I don't really claim to be anything much for lack of knowing is somewhat bewildering when I think of it, which is not frequent fortunately. Otherwise, it's shelved somewhere.

What got me thinking of it recently is the statement that someone I know made casually, that you're, obviously, an Arab if you speak Arabic. It's true because everyone knows it, and I checked with everyone, the everyone here being several people to whom I have access, of sufficiently diverse backgrounds to justify the "everywanity" I bestowed on them.
Everyone knew, I didn't.

One is what others say he is a valid point too. Surely self identification takes precedence, but since I don't...

That makes things difficult because at least one thing I knew was that I'm, was now, no Arab. At leas not entirely, not really, I'm sort of Arabish at worst... True, negation isn't much of a methodology, but if I keep eliminating suspects I might stumble on the culprit. Now I don't even have that hazy line of inquiry...

It should make he whole issue moot too: if you're an Arab, you're it, and that's it, but to be sincere, I just don't relish the idea. I have to get around this somehow.

Here Amin Maalouf comes handy. From les identités meurtrières, I got the idea that an individual's identity is an overlapping of group identities to which he/she belongs. To be fair it might be the guy said something entirely different, but I read the book once when I was 13 and never again, and that's what stuck.
Very convenient.
So now I can be partly Arab, sort of more "Arabishy" than I was before. Back to square one.

Or... not exactly square one. On the flip side, that means I have to admit to being francophone, which irritates me too, still need to know what else is there in this Harira, and what the hell to call the resulting overlapping Millefeuille!
This is when a simple Bissara becomes intellectually attractive...

Now I have to go raid the fridge, and blame Mama for not teaching me Tachelhit if she's in the way...


  1. That's why I prefer using "Arabophone" instead of Arab. What makes me laughing a lot (Ironically) is when someone justifies something by saying : "We, Moroccans, are Arabs & Muslims". Maybe you can throw your Amazigh (or more) origins to trash (But look to those who pretend to be Fassis or Anadalusians how they keep their genealogy). Me too, there are days I blame my maternal family for not asking my grand dad who was chelh to lear them tachelhit. At least, I won't have strugle in job :D

  2. Identity is definitely a funny thing.

    I'm British and I'm also Chinese...but by way of Hong Kong which means I am Cantonese speaking. Many people don't realise that there are two Chinese languages. Like at school there was a girl who arrived from China and she appeared in all my classes but the teachers did not realise that I could not speak Mandarin, therefore could not communicate with her!

    It's all assumptions and something I've definitely battled with, growing up!

    By the way, what did the Vivi magazine say??? I'm intrigued!

  3. Sorry for the delay, I'm a very bad blogger indeed ^^

    Mouâd: It's galling yes, but more so when you count as Arab to inflate the numbers and pride, then suddenly so any more when the "true" Arabs are concerned.

    Winnie: My point exactly ^^ Sadly it's just a juxtaposition of letters, nothing more... very disappointing.