The Great Divide


On reflection, I think my issue with the lavishness of the Hassan II Mosque began in downtown Casablanca when I happened upon a rubbish heap on an open plot, smack bang in the middle a residential-cum-business district.

In the background, the imposing minaret of the mosque towered over a jumble of plastic – bottles, crates, bales of bags, you name it – and rusty satellite dishes scattered across the unpainted, raw plaster walls of the dwellings.  It seemed telling that my first glimpse of this famous landmark was in stark contrast to the surroundings.

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And then I saw her.  A woman of indeterminable age, she was dressed in black from top to toe, pulling a shopping bag on wheels as she picked her way across the dumpsite.  When she began rummaging through the detritus, I was stunned.  I had assumed she was taking a shortcut through the open lot on the way to the Medina a few blocks away.  Instead she was scratching through what looked like scraps of plastic sheeting.

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Even coming from a country where millions of taxpayer’s money is wasted on renaming streets after Apartheid Struggle heroes rather than uplifting previously disadvantaged communities and tackling poverty and unemployment, I still really battle to get my head around extremes like these – in this case the need to rummage through a dumpsite that shouldn’t be in the middle of a city in the first place, while millions of dollars were spent building a work of art like the Hassan Mosque a few streets away.

A little overwhelmed, I moved on before she noticed that I had noticed her.

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3 thoughts on “The Great Divide

  1. We are having issues with illegal fly-tipping all over the country – not wanting to pay to use council dump sites people are dumping their rubbish in all sorts of places – towns, car parks, farmers’ fields and even country lanes! Quite shocking and costs a fortune to clear up. As for anyone reduced to looking through rubbish to survive, just makes me sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How awful. Down here they are a bit more discreet and the municipal dump is free but you still get the odd lazy sod that couldn’t be bothered with the effort of driving the stuff away. Makes me mad. In Casa and Marakech it wasn’t uncommon to file small piles of building rubble on street corners – almost as if the workmen who did the job “forgot” to come back and fetch the last load of debris.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Householders do get free waste disposal. A lot of it here is builders’ rubble, but even hospital waste has been found which is really dangerous – plus the contractors will have been paid to dispose of the waste so they are ripping off the customer as well! Really hefty fines are the answer – plus actually prosecuting the culprits when they have them on camera!

        Like

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