"This is my second time in Africa", I remarked from the backseat as we were driving through the centre of Casablanca this afternoon. My friends and hosts did not really pick up the comment so I continued:"Of course it is very different, I mean Morocco is a completely different thing than Kenya and Tanzania."
It is and then again it is not. We continued on the subject later over delicious tagine. My hosts told us, the European guests, that people even in Morocco often talk about going to Africa when heading South. "Funny, i do not think about this very often."
We continued our discussion on the topic of perceptions on the others. As we were a group of Moroccans and Europeans preparing a cross-Mediterranean media event, the topic was both personally intriguing and professionally important. We talked about the role of images and whether most of the collaboration is truly two-directional. I heard the same as some weeks back from some Turkish people I work with. They pointed out that collaboration and especially financial support is often strongly being driven by the European agenda, not by the things high on the agenda in the receiving country. "Just some time back I got this feeling in an event that this situation is not really equal. I am giving more than I am being given", a Moroccan friend commented.
He told a story of ending up into a fierce debate with a British scholar some time back on backwardness and narrow-mindedness of certain cultures. He told me what he said in the situation which I realised that I have not thought of very often:"I pointed out in the situation the fact that I speak more European languages than she does, I know more about her history that she knows of mine, I know more about her legal system than she does of mine, I know more about her religion than she knows of mine and I know her economic system better than she knows mine." I had to write the remark down as I found it so fresh. It is true that every now and then we Europeans end up reinforcing the colonial notion where the rest of the world needs to constantly position itself to Europe but not the other way round.
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