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Issue 42
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Historical tracing and authentication: The example of Hassan Najmi’s book Al-Ayta Song
Issue 42

By Hajubi Bushti

 

There are several issues that make it complex to research the singing of Ayta. Al-Ayta is oral poetry characterised by a number of imperfections. This makes it difficult to decide on its history and originality, especially as previous studies of this poetic song appeared late (Idris Ben Ali, 1935) and were quite limited in comparison to other studies.

 

The Moroccan elite perceives folk culture - especially the singing of Al-Ayta - as inferior, so Al-Ayta was subject to religious censorship. No one was free to write about Al-Ayta in the history of cultural discourse in Morocco. This explains the lack of documents about or references to the singing of Al Ayta, as Hassan Najmi pointed out in several places in his book Al-Ayta Song.

 

Despite these problems, Al-Ayta survived several attempts to eradicate it throughout the centuries because it was protected by a certain cultural and social system. This explains its originality, and so the author described it as traditional music (because of its ancient origins, folktales, cultural context, values, beliefs and practices). From this perspective, he was unable to study Al-Ayta without taking the historical discourse into consideration. Through this historical discourse, the author attempted to date the story, following the stages of its evolution to the present time while seeking to answer this key question: What is the reason for the historical neglect of Al-Ayta? He does this in order to help to revive traditional music, and to identify the conditions that allowed Ayta to survive.

 

In this study, the writer also attempts to rewrite the history of Al-Ayta from an academic perspective, and his work is the start of a re-evaluation of Ayta, which will require effort, time, knowledge, and field studies. The researcher’s findings confirm that we are on the right track.