The Dutch journalist and academic Greta Riemersma married a man with Moroccan roots. His name is Saïd Finani. After having lived for some time in The Netherlands they decide to move to the roots of Saïd. In 2007 the couple moves to Kenitra, a seaside town on the Atlantic Ocean. First they move in with relatives, Greta, Saïd and their young children. After some time they find their own lodgings. Great starts her job as a correspondent for several Dutch publications. Saïd looks for a future in the automobile sales.
After some time Great notices notices that her husband hardly knows a thing about his relatives and his ancestry. At a young age Saïd had decided to stay in France when his father moved back to Morocco. So much of his family history has passed by him, being separated from his closest kin by the waters of the Mediterranean. So, Saïd and Greta start their journey by talking to their closest relatives, friends, historians, old friends of his parents. They travel and they discover, they cover new ground and revisit places and people. Ider, the father of Saïd, has been a man who had travelled to find new horizons, to find work, to find a living. He came from a desert family around Tikida, near the Algerian border. He crossed the Atlas Mountains and settled in Kenitra.
Kenitra is a special town. It has been and still is in some ways a French town, created by the French colonizers, with its colonial architecture and colonial shops and atmosphere. Ider managed to find work as a gardener in the French part of Kenitra. Her took part in the resistance against the French colonizers. He moved to France to get work and earn some money to send back home. He was one of the many Moroccan men to undertake that journey to France.
The search written about in this book has been a wonderful search to find new horizons, to find the past and the present and their future hidden in the past. To discover the multi facetted life in Morocco. People belonging to towns and people with the desert in their heart. People drifting from one place to another, one country to another. People stuck in tradition and in religion, people looking for boundaries to cross. Greta has done a wonderful job in opening up this history ‘in the country of his father’ (the translated title of her book).
Greta Riemersma – Een Marokkanse familiegeschiedenis – 2001