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Rasta Gnawi
boston, ma Massachusetts USA
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From Africa, with love
03:05:37 PM Monday Jul 23, 2007

After jumping several hoops to secure visas and hotel reservations, I found my way in a plane heading to South Africa. Botswana delaying my passport processing made me feel pretty bitter about the whole trip. I mean for a Moroccan to be required visa to go to a fellow African country seemed unreal to me.

Anyway, things got sorted out, and I was on my way. We cleared Europe. I took a nap during our flight over Europe and North Africa. I woke up and we were just approaching Tanzania. Watching the flight progress on the little screens sent a sudden rush of emotions thorugh me. It felt very warm and comfortable, like I was going home. I am from Africa. I'm not very black, not very white either. But nonetheless from Africa. I had this smile in my face, like I'm going to see my family.

We get out of the plane in Jo'burg. And I am scrambling with a few hundred Europeans and Americans to the passport control windows. The wait line was unbelievably long. Suddenly I notice three signs: South African passports, African passports, and all others. For the first time I am not an "all others." I get out of the line and jump in the african passports lane. Only two people on that line. I get to the window in 2 minutes. the lady looks at me as if to say "you're in the wrong lane whitey." Then the green passport comes out. She smiles and says "welcome northern brother." "thank you" was all I could muster at that moment. The stamp is pounded on the passport and now I'm waiting for Tim to clear the "all others" lane. He says "this must be the first time your passport didn't hold us back." I say "welcome to my world." I could tell the officer roughed him up pretty good.

We head out and look for a car... took some time to get used to the whole drive on the wrong side of the road thing, but we made it. I love it here. Feels like Casablanca. Lots of poor people, but also lots of hard working people looking to make a decent living. I can't wait to discover more of this continent.

Anyone coming with me to the World Cup. It would be great of Morocco and Algeria both make it. We miss Algeria's presence in the World cup. Anyone remembers Madjer and Belloumi's time.

Got to get ready for another busy day. Hopefully more good stuff to come.

With love... from Africa

The content of this page —graphics, text and other elements—is © Copyright 2007 prospective author, and Raioo, Inc., only when stated otherwise, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher.

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3:31 pm    August 19, 2007

Antr McShaddad (Yahia.L) message
All continents are catching up with the world economy. Africa will be next.
I firmly believe that Africa is huge virgin mine, and despite the current corruption, the investors with long term vision (the Chinese included) are already aiming at her.

After Asia, Africa is next. She is the only one left.


4:54 pm    August 18, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Thanks Antr. Botswana is farther ahead and it's one of the oldest or longest living democracies in Africa. pretty peaceful place. Its proximity to South Africa helps a lot.

Africa in general gets a bad rap. The media gets a kick out of the drama in Africa, and there is plenty of it. For example, the AIDS epidemic. But this doesn't mean the continent is doomed. I for one used to believe it was doomed until I traveled through some of it. Completely changed my mind.

I encourage others to visit it and to have an open mind. Not everything has to be judged by western standards. Other standards exist and are might be more appropriate for Africa.


2:59 pm    August 18, 2007

Antr McShaddad (Yahia.L) message

Thanks for sharing your colorful accounts with us.
They were refreshing !
In general we hear about an African country, only when it is in trouble.
I heard that Botsawa is doing better than most countries in Africa.
Stability, infrastructure, standard of living etc...
How true s that ?


10:22 am    August 5, 2007
Thanks Rasta. You're good at sharing your experience. I really enjoy all what write. I'm sure many fellows (including myself) have interesting stories to tell about themselves and their experience in life but they just don't dare share their experience for some reason. They're maybe shy, they maybe feel not talented enough to tell their stories, or they actually don't know how to tell their stories.

I'm pleased to invite the Raioosters to provide insight on this issue.

Thanks again


2:59 am    August 4, 2007

hudhud message
DAMN i can see the EYES on that thang.. lol just realized haha.

Ok yah i need photoshop. anyone wanna lend me their cd?? as for price i'm willing tah nagotiate.. =))

it's got spotted eyes!!!!!! holy schmoly... =D


2:57 am    August 4, 2007

hudhud message
here's one y'all can pimp if ya like =)

1:50 am    August 4, 2007

hudhud message
hmm.. be careful tho cuz if he took the pics for a mag u probably shouldn't post openly on internet tho. might have copyright issues. personally i've had some of my pics pimped & slapped onto other websites without credit or source, and found out after the fact and it kindev annoyed me. imagine if i was doing it for a living. i'd not be too thrilled bout it.
unless the dude doesn't mind of course :)

1:21 pm    August 3, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
He works for paydirt magazine. It's a minig focused publication. He's a kool guy. He was telling me how he makes his own beef jerkey and hangs it out in his garage. Kind of reminded of 3amti Mimouna after l3id lkbir, when she dries meat for taqeddidt. I could hear Nirvana blasting through his earphones when we were in the car, so he automatically got my stamp of approval.

12:51 pm    August 3, 2007

hudhud message
nope. you'd have to start a new subject. but I have a better idea actually - click the "fwd" button and send 'em to my inbox =D
btw, he's freelancer ouila for an agency/mag?

6:03 am    August 3, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Barry just me sent me the photos. Anyone knows if there is a way to post photos along with the comments? If not I will just put them on a new subject.

7:00 am    July 30, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Barry will send me some photos when he gets back. The flamingo lake was something else. I guess the lake some kind of salt pan, where the water never really dries all the way. It's only 1 or 2 foot deep. The shrimp brine stays there all year long for the flamingo. They're beautiful birds.

I'm in casa now. It's hot as heck in here. Kind of miss the cool air of botswana, but to be fair, it is still winter down there.


7:09 pm    July 29, 2007

hudhud message
cooooooooooool!! did you get any pictures of the flamingo lake?? i hope you swapped 411 with the photographer.
woulda given anything to buy fanta from bush folk. did you get in any of the pics with them too??

4:47 am    July 29, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Unbelievable... I must have written 5 pages, then hit backspace by mistake, and it's all gone. Here we go again.

quicky from charles de gaule. Waiting for my flight to Casablanca. I tell you guys.. you gotta to see Botswana.. incredible country. Just unbelievable. I can't wait to see the rest of the continent. Next time it'll be Zambia, Tanzania, and DRC. Let's see how far we go with visas.

I made it to Botswana alright. We take a small charter flight to the mine site. About an hour north. there's just a handful of us on the aircraft. About 40 minutes into it, the CEO pulls out his GPS and start giving the pilot directions... you've gotta be kidding me.. we're lost!! so we circle around at low altitude then I see thispink lake. Joe says these are flamingo's. They feed on the shrip brine in the lake, which keeps nice and pink. It was incredible, tens of thousands of those pirds, some chilling, some feeding, other hopping and flying. What an incredible site that was. Our target was only minutes away we were told. We land.. this official comes to us and says they have no record of our plane cleared for landing. I got my bags and let them dela with it.

Mike drives to the mine site, another hour from the landing strip. Jeez... I saw so many wild animal just doing there thing in the outdoors, I can't identify more than 80% of them. Mike drives really fast. He just got a turbo diesel land rover. He drives that thing like hans solo on the falkon raider. So we do our meetings, and we're pleased with progress at the mine site. There was archeological team on site. Apparently while excavating for pit, they found some remnants of mining from 800 years ago. So they sealed the area until they preserve everything on the site. In Botswana they call their ancestors "The Anciants," and they speak about them with great respect.

In the afternoon, we drive to the exploration camp for the night. Think tents everywhere and geologist inspecting rock samples. The place was 90mn away. mike again treat the road like mad skiier and black diamond trail. meanwhile Tim and I are bouncing hitting our heads against the wall in the back. We picked Barry along the way. Barry is an australian journalist who was doing an article on mining in Botswana. He had a mean camera. we gte to an intersection in the middle of nowhere, and tell Mike "dude... your driving isn't helping my blatter.. I gots to go mon." So he stops. Nothing around but a little hut made out of clay.

I walk into the hut.. it's a mini grossery store. some oil, some sugar, some corn, and Fanta. a 14 year old girl sits inside and gives me this look like I was lost. I say bathroom? nothing... I understand nothing of what she says. Shit... now I have to find a tree somewhere in the bushes. I run out and mark my territory on a tree. Some lion is going to be really pissed about that.

I get back to the hut. Now Tim is trying to buy a coke. he's waving and gesturing with his hands.. nothing. This older dude somes from the bush and he's laughing and screaming words neither of us understand. bugulu, dugulu tugalamokuti... nothing.. Tim looks me and says "what the f*&^ is he saying?" "don't know dude, but I hear the word snap repeated. maybe h ewants his picture taken." We go to the car and fetch Barry. th eminute he takes out his camera, the entire tribe comes out of the bush. must have been 15 of them. So Barry is busy taking pictures, directing them where to stand and where to look. They're having a blast. Mike starts yelling in Afrikaan. He's not happy. he doesn't like driving in the dark. We get back to the car. I find 20 pulas in my pocket. Run back to man and hand it to him. He runs back to the hut and gets me two Fantas. He says in broken english "my name is Thuso.. don't forget." I'll try.

We get to the exploration camp...

oh crap... I'm sitting at the airport in paris now, and someone sitting next to me just cut some cheese. Jeez, WTF...

Anyway, sorry. so the exploration camp is a few tents and a bunch of geologist examining rocks. Great... sleeping on the floor.

The next day we head to Frnacistown where we meet local analysts and portfolio managers. very young people, the oldest must have been 35. Very smart guys. I had to put my head on turbo to kepe up with them. They treat us to dinner, and then Tim says he needs to get some rest. I want to head back to the hotel too. Sutsoie says "Amine... let me show how we kick back here in Botswana." It's midnight.. I really don't want to go out, but what the hell. let's go. We go to this plaza. imagine a mall. Then imagine a little fast food place looking into the parking lot. Now imagine a dj with his spin stuff standing outside the food place, which is really a bar, mixing things up. and the parking lot is filled with young dudes and dudettes jamming. Wow... looks like a rave. The music was really good. techno but built around african drum and beat. I make it back to the room at 4 in the morning. 6 o'clock tim is nocking at my door, time to go. We see one last company, then head to the airport. flying to Gaberone.. Joburg, then Paris. I get on the plane in Joburg (where I had another mini adventure, which I will leave for later.) It's an 11 hr flight. tim booked us in business class. The seats go completely flat. I fell asleep as soon as I could recline my seat. Woke up with the stwerdess telling me to straigten up my seat. Slept for 9 hours. I feel refreshed and ready to head home... to oujda.


1:51 pm    July 28, 2007

abdelilah message
I am happy that you got to explore the African continent bro, and I myself am planning to relocate to Africa one day. It is sad to see visas implemented among Africans but given the law of reciprocity when our African brothers (expecially what we call zitouna) visit us in Morocco, we treat them like S... and customs agents yell at them.

1:49 pm    July 26, 2007

hudhud message
we'll be waiting to hear more African adventure stories when you get back :) safe pleasant travels.

9:46 pm    July 25, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
My friends,

This is my last text from South Africa. Today we're flying over to Botswana. We'll be staying at a mining camp, so not likely that there will be a wifi anywhere, but you never know.

Sitting just north of us is a little country called Zimbabwe. Beautiful country, but unfortunately currently in flames. Another story of old tyrant not letting go of the country and squeezing every ounce of life out of the country. Some image of beatings and police brutality are shown on TV here. Looks like a tough place to be.

But... hope springs eternal. Next time I write it will likely be from Morocco. I've only spent 3 or 4 days and I've been smitten. My message: come see Africa. You'll be pleased.

Hamba kahuhle

Rasta G signing out


3:32 pm    July 24, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
Thanks boss I'll look it up tomorrow. I've come across some interesting aromatics in the streets. People here definitley indulge in heavily sedating fleures ;)

2:06 pm    July 24, 2007
TO RASTA Gnawi : prendre 2 sachets de tisane de Matricaria recutita (c'est une fleur en vente), laisser infuser dans un récipient fermé : c'est un excellent sédatif( = calme et detend). Bon courage, á consommer sans modération.

11:12 am    July 24, 2007

hudhud message
you are picking up some zulu now? :) nice.

9:49 am    July 24, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I don't think it's realistic to come to South Africa and not expect that kind of disparity. This is the place of Appartheid after all. The government, businesses, and society seem to be dealing with it in ways that are progressive, maybe a little slow, but you don't just radically change a society in a decade or two. The government has this really great black empowerment mandate. Every legacy natural resource company that sprung out of South African giants (Anglo-American, ...) is expected to have a certain number of black people owning it and having seats on its boards. This is a good way to bring some black people into the folds of the real economy, and empower them to improve their conditions. Both blacks and whites know what's going.

I am a little surprised at the comments of his trainees. I worked with a lot of South Africans, whites and blacks, when I worked at Mt Snow. I didn't get that kind of apathy. They were young and generally sympathetic. They were also aware of the difficult social construct they were born in.

I for one wouldn't worry about South Africans, blacks or whites. Difficult history but very pleasant people. I haven't ventured into the slumms though.. might be a different story there.

yallah.. jah bless... and like they say in Zulu : hamba kale


9:33 am    July 24, 2007

Mohamed Brahimi message
a very close friend of mine made the trip to South Africa three years ago. He talks about the massive disparity between "the have" and the "have not". He was training some elites on the use of some tech related sodware. This gentelman took the opportunity to tallk to his trainees about how shoked and appauled he was by he saw on the streets of Johansburg. He talked to them about the crazy correclation that he saw between being poor and being balck. I remmember what he told me so vividly because he was very passionate telling itHe said that his trainees' nonchalant attitude did nott help him comprehend either. The worst is that some of those elites believe that the stutus quo is part of life and that the less fortunate should just accepttheir "fate" and deal with it.
SOCIAL INJUSTICE will definitely shock you. Try to capture some of the stories that depict what I am refering to
Thank you and keep on writing

9:19 am    July 24, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
5:15pm. My brain is fried. no sleep. Spent 3 hours arguing with the lady at the Botswana embassy. a meeting got canceled. The driver took us to the wrong address (imagine this: we think we're going to a proper business company, the driver drops us off at a strip bar... at 11 in the morning.. are you kidding me!)


11:14 pm    July 23, 2007

hudhud message

*shocked* ;)

hot chocolate can make you feel a bit more soporific. eat a heavy meal and try to read something like yi fu tuan's escapism

“Escapism has a somewhat negative meaning in our society and perhaps in all societies. It suggests an inability to face facts – the real world. We speak of escapist literature, for instance, and we tend to judge as escapist places such as mega-shopping malls, fancy resortys, theme parks, or even picture-perfect suburbs. They all lack – in a single word – weight.
Suspicion of escapism has many causes. The most obvious is that no animal can survive unless it perceives its environment as it really is. Daydreaming or wishful thinking would not answer. The hard facts cannot be made to go away by shutting one’s eyes. But so far as we know, only humans may withdraw, eyes shut, to ponder the nature of a threat rather than confront it directly, muscles tense, eyes open; only they daydream and engage in wishful thinking…
What do the words “reality” and “real” mean? Although philosophers do not find it easy to agree on an answer, ordinary thinking people have little difficulty using these words in everyday talk, often in conjunction with their opposites, “fantasy” and “unreal.” Such talk ….
The Earth is our home. Trips to the moon, another planet, a distant star, have haunted the human imagination and may even become a commonplace reality one day. But they nevertheless have an aura of fantasy about them. Real life is life on earth; it is here that we have our roots and our being. Geographers study the earth as human habitat or home. Interestingly, they discover that the earth is never quite the home humans want it to be; hence the dreams of flying and of a paradise located elsewhere that are common to many cultures. Most people, when they think of the earth, think not of the entire planet but of a part of it – the part they live in. Wherever they happen to be, provided they have been settled there for some time, they consider home. Yet this is not quite the case either, if only because if it were, there would be no story, no human story, to tell; people, like other animals, will be “immersed in nature”… It is the restless activity that produces the story line. Human beings have been and continue to be profoundly restless. For one reason or another, they are not content with being where they are….”

Not content with being where they are… not content...
with being...
they are....


7:18 pm    July 23, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I was asleep during our flight over the desert, but we were above some thick cloud cover. If only I could get my body and brain shut down and sleep. It's 3:15am and my first meeting begins at 8. I'm in trouble. Anyone knows a good tip for falling asleep.

6:34 pm    July 23, 2007

Adnane Ben. message
Yes of course! somehow, even in Boston, whenever I meet someone from Africa, with that thick accent and exotic facial expressions, i feel right at home. Just yesterday the cable guy was from Kenya, we were talking as if we knew each other since childhood. I grabbed him drinks from the fridge and we sat down chatting. Were he not late for his next cable job, I was ready to prepare a cool Moroccan mint tea for my african brethren. Not sure how to explain it, but he did get a very generous tip.

Amine - write more, it's nice. Did you fly over Morocco? it was probably too high to see land. I wonder how the sahra looks like from up above.


3:46 pm    July 23, 2007

Rasta Gnawi message
I am not sure compdre. I of course didn't bring a camera and was searching the net for a picture that resembled what I saw today. That came pretty close. The officers were a little, shall we say, less laid back. All business. She kept complaining about the neon light flickering above her head. Said it was going to give her seizures (spelling?) I told her she should get sun-glasses. She didn't think it was very funny.


3:25 pm    July 23, 2007

Mohamed Brahimi message
Who is that on the picture?? a TSA officiePlease rwite more.. I like your style.. your flow is great
Thank you

Rasta Gnawi's notes (63)
Ramadan Mubarak..
Raioo versus Facebook..
Ramdan Mabrouk..
rantings on a cloudy day..
salma salma..
agricultural / energy policy..
Doucement :)..
Mebrouk Remdan..
ghir bessyas a moulay!..
ONB - anyone going to concert or has tickets?..
Friday or Saturday?..
douga douga..
Cartoon Memories..
mudhakkiratou rihlati ljanoub..
From Africa, with love..
great film..
spicy chocolate..
a treat for you..
Nice piece for your weekend activities..
Another attempt at writing. Will this language ever feel nat..
Eid Mebrouk..
Mebrouk Ramdan..
old fiction..
MS Mess..
their life... our life... their life.....
Islamic punk rock..
One Love..
free speech..
Hammam ruminations..
old paintings..
date deals..
name of the rose..
mostafa Akkad..
Paris riots..
Eid Mabrouk..
NYT lamb..
a pause from madness..
desert nights..
brain freeze..
organized tours..
passport on vacation..
good attire..
Hot day..
Econ - Biz - What's The Pulse..


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