Written by CorpsAfrica/Maroc Volunteer Mr. Lahcen Chanchaf
The story begins when I first arrived in Azzaden Valley in the High Atlas Mountains. People are kindhearted and so delightful there. The fact that we share the same language (Berber) breaks many barriers between us. As Nelson Mandela said once, when you speak to someone in a language he understands it goes to his mind, but when you speak his language it goes to his heart. O Tata is my new nickname in Azzaden Valley. I am not a good storyteller, but before we move on let’s take a look at the etymology of the word. O is a possessive prefix in Berber used to indicate the origins of a place. The second part is my birthplace, Tata. It is one of the marginalized cities in southern Morocco. It is well known for palm trees. Therefore, O Tata means someone who is from Tata.
Having said that, lets go back to our story, as I said whenever I speak Berber with one of the local people I used to hear “mani ygan tamazirt?” where are you from?. I replied: I am from Tata. Then they said” merhba aw Tata” welcome O Tata. I felt as if I am at my hometown. Few days later, I was talking with a group of youth and suddenly one of them uttered “Amen O Tata” the phrase that became a word of mouth in the region. I was wondering what is the relation between Amen and Tata. To my knowledge, Amen is what we say at the end of religious prayers. To what extent am I blessed? I thought💭. Then, I figured out that there is also a story behind that.
It was about a very popular video on WhatsApp among Azzaden youths. “A man from Tata went to Mecca, a city in Saudi Arabia and the holiest place in Islam, to make hajj (the pilgrimage). He was praying behind the Imam in the mosque. All of sudden, while the Imam was reciting the Quran, he remembered that, he forgot to make wudu (ablution) before the prayer. Hence, he has to replace someone to finish the Salat. Luckily, the man from Tata was the chosen one. For the sacred of the place, the man started over and repeated reciting al Fatiha; the short first sura of the Quran. “In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.[All]Praise is[due]to Allah, Lord of the the worlds. The Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful. Sovereign of the Day of the Recompense. It is You we worship and You we ask for help. Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom you have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked[your]anger or of those who are astray”. As soon as he finished the sura, all the people from Morocco replied: Amen aw Tata”.
Wait a minute; this is off one’s box. How come😧? Believe it or not this is the story. Anyhow, whenever they watch that video they just burst out laughing😂😂. It may be a mind-numbing story; but just smile because when you smile, the whole world smiles with you. I hope it will leave a smile on your face at least for the rest of this day.