Brahim Oubaha, Tangier, Morocco
Name: Brahim Oubaha
Lives in: Tangier, Morocco
Period in Germany: September 2013 and July 2014 in Berlin, Essen and Bonn
Educational institution: Work placement in the German parliament and a German Academic Exchange Service study trip
My name is Brahim Oubaha. I come from Morocco and studied German at the University of Hassan II in Casablanca. I’m currently completing a Master’s in Arabic, French and German translation at the King Fahd Advanced School of Translation in Tangier.
Because I studied German, I already had a keen interest in Germany and, of course, I’d read widely about the country, especially in the areas of literature, culture, history, politics and human rights.
In 2013, I took part in the German Bundestag’s International Parliamentary Scholarships (IPS). The IPS programme is run by the German parliament – the Bundestag – and the President of the Bundestag is patron.
‘The IPS programme is aimed at politically committed young people who are actively involved in campaigning for democratic values in their home countries’
Since 2014, I’ve been a member of the ‘Association of Moroccan IPS Scholarship Holders’. The association’s aim is to facilitate long-term contacts both with IPS alumni and with the Bundestag itself. We also want to boost cooperation with other IPS alumni associations in more than 20 countries. Our association is keen to make sure that committed, open-minded and politically interested young adults are aware of the IPS programme.
The Moroccan IPS alumni association also sees its role as promoting Moroccan-German cooperation at cultural and political level and deepening mutual understanding between the two nations and cultures. We want our activities to support the transformation process that Morocco is currently undergoing, strengthen civil society and promote democracy.
‘I think Germany’s political system is a good European model’
In Morocco, we lack training in democratic processes. I know that a democracy can function properly only if its people are able to learn from functioning democracies in other countries. That’s why I’d like to learn first-hand about things like how elections are run. Half the population of Morocco cannot read or write, so it is easy to manipulate people.
As a translator, I’d like to help to transfer Germany’s political system into the Arabic and Berber languages , because most Moroccans know very little about Germany. Translation plays a vital role in change and in the democratic process in my country. Germany is very important to me, and I want to disseminate and apply what I’ve learned in Germany in my own country.
‘My view of the world changed in Germany’
People in Germany tend to think globally, rather than regionally or nationally, and I liked that. Many Moroccans have the wrong image of Germany and the Germans. They think Germans are very selfish and perhaps not as hospitable as Moroccans, but I got a really warm welcome in Germany. And everything was really well organised – but then, of course, Germany’s famous for its organisation.
Germany is a place of cultural exchange and encounter, and staying in the country enabled me to meet people from all around the world, exchange views and experiences with them and learn from them. I think further development is based on sharing experiences.
‘Online networks, such as the Alumniportal Deutschland, mean I can report on my experiences and activities’
I use the Alumniportal Deutschland to get to know people who are particularly keen to have a deeper relationship with Germany.
I’ve teamed up with university friends to set up a number of associations devoted to promoting freedom, democracy and intercultural communication, such as ‘Timatarin’ and the ‘Moroccan-German Association for Cultural Exchange and Cooperation’.
‘Timatarin’ was set up in 2009 in Biougra and is formally registered in Morocco to promote the indigenous Berber language and culture, democratic values and tolerance, and cultural exchange, so that different peoples and religions can live peacefully together and cooperate to their mutual benefit.
‘One of the aims of ‘Timatarin’ is to deepen understanding of cultural diversity’
Another of its aims is to help people get more involved and to facilitate political education for civil society stakeholders. The association is also actively involved in social affairs and supports the young people living in the region in achieving good academic results.
As well as talks and discussions on democracy, transformation processes and dialogue between world cultures, we also organise political education forums and summer schools for young people. Timatarin has its headquarters in Agadir but works right across Morocco.
There’s also a ‘Timatarin’ online magazine – I’m the editor. It’s an independent medium campaigning for peaceful coexistence between world cultures and intercultural dialogue, especially with German cultural organisations, and mutual exchange. It tackles issues such as inter-culturalism, cultural dialogue with German cultural organisations, cultural relations in the Mediterranean, the German language and culture in Morocco, civil society, and education.
‘Our aim is to boost cultural exchange and development’
The ‘Moroccan-German Association for Cultural Exchange and Cooperation’ started life as the ‘Moroccan Association for Students and Graduates of German’ (MVGSA) and was founded in 2010 in Agadir, where it still has its headquarters. The association’s management committee wanted to support German language learning and teaching in Morocco and promote friendly cultural and social relations between Morocco and German-speaking countries. It’s a non-profit organisation and has no economic or commercial aims.
Following the Annual General Meeting on 14 August 2013, we changed the name to the ‘Moroccan-German Association for Cultural Exchange and Cooperation’. We also set some new aims for the association, to reflect social movements and the developments taking place across North Africa. It has already organised a number of cultural events with singers and songwriters, women’s rights activists and other actors – self-funded, as we receive no state funding.
I’m also the project manager of the German-Moroccan Cultural Forum, which met in Agadir between 27 and 29 March 2015. The Forum is a meeting point for dialogue and exchange between political, cultural, historical, civil society and media experts from both countries. The aim of the three-day forum was to discuss existing bilateral relations between Morocco and Germany and to consider how, and in which areas, we could deepen cultural cooperation between our two countries and open up new prospects for Moroccan-German relations. The Forum organises workshops, lectures, discussions, exhibitions and trips.
I also work in other civil society and political associations right across Morocco, including the North Moroccan Human Rights Forum in Tangier and the Izerfan Foundation in Casablanca.