Screening of the documentary “Qissat Ennahda

The Abu Bakr El Kadiri Foundation for Culture has organized, saturday 13 novemberat the CinéAtlas in Rabat, the preview of the documentary ” Qissat Ennahda – For a Moroccan National School. Co-directed by Othmane Balafrej and Oualid Ayoub, the documentary traces the journey of Abu Bakr El Kadiri, a nationalist figure from the city of Salé.

Photo: Mohamed Koumiya

If education in Morocco is the subject of many debates today, the fact remains that every morning, millions of young Moroccans go to schools in the Kingdom. This seemingly innocuous act has not always been taken for granted. This right was won because people militant for the independence of their country, made education their spearhead.

Co-directed by Othmane Balafrej and Oualid Ayoub and produced by the production company ZigZag Films for the Abou Bakr El Kadiri foundation, “Qissat Ennahda” plunges us into the heart of a colonial Morocco where everything still had to be done. Through the historical figure of Abu Bakr El Kadiri and his fight for an education for the benefit of all Moroccan children, the film tells the story of the creation of a great institution in the city of Salé – Ennahda school and this, as a great chapter in the colonial history of Morocco.

Inspired by the book of the same name, written by Abou Bakr El Kadiri, the documentary is essentially built around interviews with former students of the Ennahda School and a large number of archives.

Colonization did not really help Morocco to develop in terms of education at all

Abou Bakr El Kadiri is one of the founders of the Moroccan national movement. Signatory of the Moroccan Reform Plan of 1934 and of the Independence Manifesto of January 11, 1944, he is also one of the forerunners of modern education in Morocco, having founded several “free schools” in the 1930s and 1940s, despite opposition from the protectorate authorities.

Photo: Mohamed Koumiya

Based on numerous written correspondence from the French authorities at the time, the film crew tried to trace Abu Bakr El Kadiri’s fight for free education for the benefit of all Moroccans. A journey that was strewn with pitfalls.

“We tried to show through this documentary that it was not easy to lay the foundations of modern education in Morocco. Colonization did not really at all help Morocco to develop in terms of education ”, said Othmane Balafrej, co-director of the documentary and founder of production company ZigZag Films.

The film takes care to explain the specificities of education during the protectorate and shows how the struggle for free education was a political act in the context of the time. The history, religion and the Arabic language being the bases of the knowledge of the country, their transmission was a sine qua non condition to build a true Moroccan identity, expresses the film.

“As a filmmaker, it’s always a great pleasure to work on narratives and storytelling that are carried by complex characters, especially when it’s documentary. My co-director and I took great pleasure in working on this figure who is Abu Bakr El Kadiri, and who represents a lot in the struggle for education in Morocco. It is important as a nation to know where we come from in order to know where we are going ”, indicates for his part, Oualid Ayoub, co-director of the documentary.

Photo: Mohamed Koumiya

Among the hundred or so guests present during the screening of “Qissat Ennahda – The Story of Ennahda”, two members of the government, Mehdi Bensaid, Minister of Culture and Communication, and Nizar Baraka, Secretary General of the party of the Istiklal and Minister of Equipment. Also present at the screening were academics, Moroccan intellectuals, former students of the Ennahda school, but also elected officials such as the Mayor of the city of Salé, Omar Sentissi.

“The film has a very strong reach, because there are a lot of emotions and messages that really show the spirit of the time, which was essentially aimed at preparing the new generation with this mix between strengthening the Moroccan identity, the need to strengthen the nationalist spirit and thirdly, access to knowledge in order to enable new generations, men and women, to be able to be true citizens and to make their contribution to the development of the country ”, said to MoroccoLatestNews, Nizar Baraka, also President of the Allal El Fassi Foundation.

A documentary developed by a small team

Developed during the summer of 2021 by a team of young people who are passionate about the subject, this film was made possible thanks to the Abou Bakr El Kadiri Foundation for Culture which is at the initiative of the project.

“We worked with a very small team. The idea was really to be as involved as possible during the whole creation process. “, emphasizes in this regard Othmane Balafrej.

“We gave the best of ourselves. The film tells a story that deserves to be known to everyone. I made the recording of the sound during shooting then the sound editing and the mixing. Everything was done very smoothly ”, Amine Arrom, Sound Engineer, will tell us.

Another member of the team, Rami Iskander Aloui, Director of Photography, agrees: “I am very honored to have been able to participate in this project. I discovered a story that I didn’t know personally, but which is a universal story of struggle ”.

Photo: Mohamed Koumiya

The final word will be for Othmane Balafrej, co-director of the documentary: “We thank the Abou Bakr El Kadiri Foundation for placing their trust in us. It was very special to make this documentary together, with Oualid (…) I hope that we will have the opportunity to make several others and that this documentary can be screened elsewhere, or be broadcast on television for that people can read it ”.



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