I was in Rabat last week at the Fondation Orient-Occident founded by our remarkable friend Yasmina Filali. Over 500 refugees, who have fled Iraq, Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and the Congo, find purpose for their new lives in the Fondation’s welcoming building. On their long journey to Morocco, during months and years, they would wake up to a day of uncertainty, with miles to walk from civil unrest, abuse, rape and no future. People from these very diverse places have a space to cook, embroider, learn, play, sew, sing and perpetuate the creativity that is in their veins, spirits and souls. The Fondation allows them to have a social life, recreate a community and cling to hope for their culture.
I went to Rabat in search of a choir for a New Yorker wedding that will take place at the end of summer in Jnane Tamsna. The bride would love to relive the beautiful sounds of the Harvard Krokodiloes choir. Several years ago, at Yasmina’s center, I heard fabulous a cappella songs in Lingala, one of the main Congolese languages. Listening to songs in a language you don’t understand enhances the beauty of the voices, and the polyphony of the rhythms. I think the exuberance of the vegetation of our gardens, lit by glittering candles and lanterns, will echo superbly the magic and mystery of these voices.