Marrakech is the heart and lifeblood of Morocco’s ancient storytelling tradition.
For nearly a thousand years, storytellers have gathered in Jemaa el Fna, the legendary square of the city, to recount ancient folktales and fables to rapt audiences. But this unique chain of oral tradition that has passed seamlessly from generation to generation is teetering on the brink of extinction.
The competing distractions of television, movies, and the Internet have drawn the crowds away from the storytellers and few have the desire to learn the stories and continue their legacy.
Richard Hamilton has witnessed first-hand the death throes of this rich and captivating tradition and, in the labyrinth of the Marrakech medina, has tracked down the last few remaining storytellers, recording stories that are replete with the mysteries and beauty of the Maghreb.
Richard Hamilton has worked for the BBC World Service as a broadcast journalist since 1998, including being a correspondent in Morocco, South Africa and Madagascar. He also reports for BBC TV, radio and online. While living in Morocco, he co-authored the Time Out Guide to Marrakech and has written throughout his career for magazines and newspapers such as Conde Nast Traveller and The Times. He has an MA in African Studies from SOAS.
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The Last Storytellers by Richard Hamilton