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Political History of Ifni
 

The social organization in Ifni is similar to the other Berber tribes in the Moroccan South. Each tribe has its own governmental authority or “amegar”, named by a Yemáa, or  assembly of principals. The “amegar” designates the subordinates who cannot make decisions by themselves and carry out the orders of  the “amegar”.

The “amegar” controls the governmental matters of the tribe, and many times, the judicial ones as well, as these tribes are Islamic only in a superficial way; the laws of the Koran are not the only ones that rule the area: sometimes, laws of common right prevail, which are very different from the Koran in the appraisal and application of the punishments or sanctions, in most cases. And is the governmental authority the one that exercises and applies this common right. “Imegarrens” (pl. of amegar) are so jealous and proud to make this costum right prevail that they will not admit that cadies, or Muslim judges, interfere.

This custom right is compiled in canons, which are similar in some “cabilas” but differ in some minor details. In general, common right is softer with punishments than the Koran, and yet more effective.

Before pacification, it was in the zoco (Moroccan market place) where, usually, the complaints and disputes of individuals and tribes, were stated. The assemblies of the tribes wee forced to interfere. Sometimes, when the “igurrarem”, who played the role of arbiters, could not set an agreement, a situation of war was originated. There were gun shots and stores were robbed, in a symbolic way of speaking, the market was left in ruins.

Nowadays the zoco takes place in a peaceful atmosphere. This meeting is crucial to Berbers’ lives. They abandon their jobs in order to be present. If the chief  of the family cannot attend, he sends his son or any other member of his group; sometimes, his wife or his daughter are the ones to go.

The zoco is a place of supplies, and at the same time, political home. It is in the zoco where pacts are set and contracts concluded. The dates of the fairs and the places where they will be celebrated are fixed by tradition, so all the tribes can participate. Hence, today it is celebrated in one place and tomorrow in another. They use words of the days of the week to designate the date and the place of the market. For example, “uk et Telata de Isbuia” (Tuesday market in Ishuia), “sule el Arlusia de Imstiten” (Wednesday market in Imstiten), etc.

This is how Father Koller describes one day at the zoco: these days are frequently more active than the celebrations itself. It is extremely picturesque to see the activity in the “duar” and “cashah”, as they start getting ready to assist the zoco, the day before. Since sunrise, the area of the market is filled with reed or straw cabins, and even white, fragile tents. Cloth, silks, slippers, handkerchiefs of all colours and forms are piled up over the canvas that have been used to carry them, everything is displayed around the merchants. These ones, sitting on their heels, in Moroccan tailor’s style, and those who are kneeling, are interested in negotiation, spreading the fabrics that, everyone who passes by, must touch and examine. Some steps further, in another row, are the “drogueros” (drug suppliers), displaying their little sacks and waiting for clients. Even furtherer, the “tolbas” can be found, with  hoods covering their heads and lying on dirty “esteras”(rush mats), with their reeds and green inkpots, and always willing to give advice. Barbers prepare their instruments to start working; in the meantime, small groups of people start to arrive, pushing their animals loaded with grains, poultry, salt, eggs and beasts of burden to put on sale.The corners where carpets are displayed offer a beautiful view, as well as the places where pottery and  cattle are sold.

Long caravans can be seen in all the roads that lead to the fair. There are men riding horses, merchants on mules or donkeys, the poorest people go on foot.  Each one has chosen a group. The young people sing alluding to a future wedding. The  echo of the mountains repeats their song. The women, barefoot, carry, in a dirty cloth tied in the waist, some onions, olives and bread and, on their backs, their slippers. They walk very fast, almost running, moaning each time they stumble on a stone and are hurt; they immediately take revenge on  their donkeys and start pricking them until they bleed, forcing them to continue.

In general, about eleven o’clock in the morning, everyone is at the zoco, which is completely full. The grain and animal sellers, the potters, coal merchants and the rest of the salesmen go to their habitual positions after greeting their relatives and friends. Little ovens are improvised to cook ”esfench” (churros), “mechul”(roasted meat),  késra” (bread),  that are offered to the peasants.

During three or four hours, there is an intense activity: everyone exchanges. Around two o’clock in the afternoon, people start going home or to their tents, making juicy comments on what they have heard, seen, or learned that day.

However, the important cattle exchanges are made annually in the pilgrimages or, “muggares”, of the regional sanctuaries. These ones take place every year, after the harvest, during the summer, and  people come from everywhere; big cattle fairs and of manufactured goods are celebrated. People may take five or more days  to get there, sleeping in the sanctuary one or two days.

 
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