In addition to policies aiming to strengthen the cultural infrastructure in Morocco, culture is also a vast sector to which individual initiatives contribute.
In the south of Morocco, precisely in the region of Souss-Massa, Tiznit, culture is of great importance to both youth and leaders.
Wassila Chatibi, vice-president in charge of cultural affairs at the city’s communal council, points out that “the city of Tiznit occupies an important place in the cultural sphere. And like many other cities in the world and Morocco, our city has also been affected by the pandemic of COVID-19, but it has been able to renew itself and continue its cultural activities little by little, since it is rich of an active collective fabric and a new vitality, as witnessed by the city’s cultural spaces”.
However, for the younger generation increasingly influenced by the digital wave, culture is seen as a more wide subject.
In Tiznit, thanks to a youth-led initiative, a new definition of culture has been created, encompassing cultural actions, entrepreneurship, technology as well as digital, a broad mix that opens many doors for the city’s youth, and from which comes the name “L’blend” given to a laboratory of ideas; which is a space that its founders claim to be created to give young people the necessary mindset to consider problems and find solutions to them, to establish a culture of creation as well as to fight against inactivity, with the aim of encouraging them to develop their own initiatives one day and leave a positive mark within their communities.
In this interview, Aimane Idhajji, founder of L’blend, tells us more about it.
Activity room at L’blend. Photo by Younes Arbani
– Why and how did you come up with the idea for this space?
The idea of the space came from the simple need of a place for us to host our activities without worrying about logistics, then it evolved as we were writing the file to become L’blend as we know it today, blending our interests for arts, technology, and entrepreneurship.
– The impact of COVID-19 on the cultural sector has been felt worldwide. The social and economic repercussions have also affected the fundamental right of access to culture. How have you been able to address these challenges and organize activities within this space?
For many NGOs, COVID meant a shift to digital. In our case, it was not a shift as we have always focused on our digital presence; however, it was definitely a call to give it more focus. At first we relied on our activities in our creative space to create our social media content, then with COVID, it was obvious to us we had to work more like an agency and be autonomous.
– What makes your space different from other spaces?
We are geographically located in the middle of the country, which is an opportunity in itself, because it is strategic. In addition, our presence on social media makes our contact with youth direct and uninterrupted.
– Access to culture is not a given for everyone due to social, geographical and even generational inequalities. What strategies have you put in place to bring culture closer to young people?
We cannot take credit for the success of any of the youth using our space. Such spaces are open but not mobile. We do not knock on doors to change youth. Youth comes to us. They make the decision to put themselves in an environment that will help them reach their goals. As a result, our work is very individual and it is too early to talk about impact on local youth. We receive positive testimonials about us being a door to new perspectives and we are happy with that, the rest of the path is for everyone to take on their own.
– Countries in Africa and Morocco have a distinguished relationship at all levels. In your opinion, how could L’blend contribute in developing their cultural relations?
We work with everybody. So far, we have not collaborated with any country from our beloved continent but we remain open to opportunities. Our biggest contribution may be an opening to our sub-Saharan communities in Tiznit.