A project by Lillehammer University College, Norway
The official launch of the book “Sensations of a Berber village – Everyday life in Ait Abdi” in Morocco took place on 28th of February 2015. The program started with an official reception hosted by Monsieur Younes El Bathaoui, Le Governor de Province D’AlHaouz. Among others, he had invited the project manager Pär Nygren and the local research assistant Omar Aatabi together with the Norwegian Ambassador to Morocco, Are-Jostein Norheim, to his residence as a tribute and support to the launch of the book.
The authors of the book are Pär Nygren and the Danish photographer Anne-Li Engström. By combining photographs, interview data and historical material, the book documents the everyday life of children, youth and families in Ait Abdi in the tension between tradition and modernity.
Following the reception at the Governor´s residence, the program for the book-launch continued in Ait Abdi with the Norwegian ambassador as one of several speakers who praised the project of Lillehammer University in general and the latest publication in particular.
The launch took place outside the local school in Ait Abdi and had lured hundreds of people from the village, the governor administration, representatives of the education administrations at local and regional level, representatives from the ministries in Rabat and the national and local press. In addition to all speeches, one of the highlights of the program was the distribution of a copy of the book to each of the families in Ait Abdi.
The launch was a ”folk festival” of the rare kind – see also video recordings below.
See a lot more pictures from this fantastic event by visiting the picture college Ait Abdi 25-28 February 2015.
Below is a video with a series of pictures and videos documenting the event.
The book about the everyday life in Ait Abdi is a result of our work in one of eight subprojects under the umbrella project “Children in Dreams of Their Future Competences”. (Read about all the subprojects here!)
One aim of the book was to combine data from other sub projects under the umbrella project with photographs of people in the village visualizing their involvement in various social practices, e.g. school, work etc.. But the ambition is not limited to a passive documentation of the everyday reality in a Berber village, but also to provide a concrete contribution to the development and change of the material conditions for this life – on the premises of the village population itself. Revenues from sales of the book in Morocco and the Scandinavian countries is unabridged earmarked as a donation to the people of Ait Abdi, represented by the local association in the village, Tidoukla. The residents of Ait Abdi elect the board of this association each year. The income from selling the book in Scandinavia had, at the day of the book-launch, reached over 30.000 dirhams. The amount of 33.000 dirhams was hence handed over to the president of Tidoukla the 28.2.2015 as a donation.
In consultation with the umbrella project, administered by Lillehammer University College, and the Norwegian registered welfare organization “Friends of Ait Abdi,” it has been determined that this donation shall be used for the construction of a community house center in the village, with spaces for library, the local association of the village (for the time being Tidoukla) and rooms for meetings and cooperation between parents and the local school teachers. Based on the forthcoming income from selling the book there is also a plan for building up an annual fund for “startup grants” for young students from Ait Abdi who wants to study at the University.
Another highlight of the program was the intense meeting between the Norwegian folk music culture and the Berber culture, a meeting that took place under the auspices of Steinar Ofsdal and his students from the Norwegian Academy of Music (NAM).
One of the eight sub projects under the umbrella project at Lillehammer University College (LUC) is “Young people’s cultural practices and identities in the tension between tradition and modernity.” This project is run in collaboration between LUC and the Norwegian Academy of Music (NAM). The days before the launch of the book of Ait Abdi this subproject mobilized children, adolescents and adults in several cross-cultural “actions” within and outside Ait Abdi. Steinar Ofsdal at NAM leads the project. The objective is to create opportunities for young Norwegian musicians and young Berber musicians and children to learn from each other across cultures and traditions. Not least how to preserve and strengthen traditional values and culture in a rapidly changing society.
As part of their musical education, students from the NAM annually visit Ait Abdi and other small villages in the province of Alhaouz. Under the leadership of Steinar Ofsdal, and with the assistance of Omar Aatabi, they are involved in joint musical activities to learn from each other and strengthen cultural identities and folk music traditions in both countries. This year, Steinar Ofsdal brought eight Norwegian music students participating in what has now become a course at the Academy. They also presented their work with children and young Ait Abdi as part of the program for the launch of the book.
Authors: Pär Nygren & Anne-Li Engström
Publisher: Lillehammer University College, Norway
Language: English and Arabic
Cover: Hard cover
Price: 250 NOK/225 DKK/275 SEK/120 MAD. Quantity discount: >14 copies: 200 NOK/175 DKK/220 SEK/100 MAD
This book is both an artistic photographic documentation in its own right, and a part of a research project trying to understand the inherent history, present, and signs of the future in the everyday life in a Berber village in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. The project supports the development, welfare and wellbeing of the children and their families in the small Berber village Ait Abdi.
All income from the book sales, except for postage costs, is transferred to the people of Ait Abdi through the Norwegian help organization “Friends of Ait Abdi” (to read more about this organization, click here!)
“Every single moment of the everyday life in Ait Abdi carries, in itself, many aspects of deep significance: the history and traditional culture of the Berbers, their present life as a mixture of tradition and modernity, and clear signs of their future lives as Berbers in Morocco. In this book we seek to impart our sensations of how these temporal elements (history-present-future) are present in the single moments of everyday life of the people of Ait Abdi.”
From the introduction
Get an impression of the fantastic high quality photographs and the exiting text in the book – just click here!
About the authors
Professor in psychology and social work, Research Centre for Child and Youth Competence Development, Lillehammer University College, Norway. Administrator of the research project in Ait Abdi: Children in dreams of their future competences.
Freelance photographer, living and working in Copenhagen, Denmark. Working with books, magazines and personal projects.
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