Tan-Tan Moussem: Morocco celebrates centuries-old lifestyle

CCTV News

Tan-Tan Moussem: Morocco celebrates centuries-old lifestyle

A cultural treat from North Africa and the peoples of the Sahara. Thousands have been gathering in western Morocco for a week-long festival, known as the Tan-Tan Moussem. It’s a celebration of a lifestyle that dates back centuries – and a showcase for one of Africa’s most colorful communities.

CCTV’s Liao Liang was there. 

Tan-Tan Moussem: Morocco celebrates centuries-old lifestyle

Tan-Tan Moussem: Morocco celebrates centuries-old lifestyle

A cultural treat from North Africa and the peoples of the Sahara. Thousands have been gathering in western Morocco for a week-long festival, known as the Tan-Tan Moussem. It's a celebration of a lifestyle that dates back centuries - and a showcase for one of Africa's most colorful communities.

Tan-Tan Moussem festival celebrates centuries-old lifestyle, with a game of thunder, smoke and dust, colors, energy and spectacle. 

In the Moroccan Tbourida, there is a test of handling and training a horse – and of the rider’s ability to coordinate his gestures and to be precise. The horsemen, when galloping, must all, at the signal, aim their rifles towards the ground, and fire!

The Tbourida opened up the annual Tan-Tan Moussem here on the west coast of Morocco. Just one of the many attractions that draw people here from across the Sahara. In fact, this is the largest gathering of nomadic tribes in northern Africa.

Hundreds of tents are set up for them – and to exhibit traditional elements of Berber life.

The weeklong event is recognized by the UN cultural agency UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

For participants, it’s a chance to forge new friendships and revive old ones to swap stories and songs, trade, marry even – and of course, to race their horses and camels.

Most of all the Tan-Tan Moussem is about cherishing a way of life.

In downtown Tan-Tan, thousands took part in a parade – in a vivid demonstration of traditional clothing, music and culture.

The first Moussem was organized in 1963. Because of security problems, it was suspended for 25 years, until 2004. Now the festival is playing an important role for the bedouin. Their lifestyle is being profoundly altered, and threatened, by economic upheaval and urbanization.

Many of nomads are being forced to settle – and the craft and the poetry and the knowhow of centuries are being lost.

So, alongside the celebrations, the color and the spectacle. Tan-Tan Moussem is helping to keep a culture alive.