Royal Institute for Amazigh
Ahmed Baucus, the dean of the Royal Institute of Amazigh gave an exclusive interview to Arabstoday, in which he responded to criticisms against him from Amazigh activists. Baucus has been accused of driving away
the Royal Institute of Amazigh culture [IRCAM] from its real responsibilities.
He told Arabstoday about the new strategy presented to the prime minister on the addition of Amazigh language in schools.
Arabstoday: You have recently presented your new plan on the promotion of Amazigh language to Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane. How did he react?
Ahmed Baucus: The feedback was very positive. We discussed the importance of Amazigh culture and its contribution to national cultural heritage. The prime minister welcomed the initiative and said he intended to take action towards this issue. His plan is to accelerate the making of the laws at the National Languages Council which will spread the Amazigh culture and language across the country.
AT: You have been chosen a second time to manage the Royal Institute of Amazigh Culture, despite the Amazigh activists’ discontent. Would you like to comment on this issue?
AB: I spent nine years of my career dedicated to Amazigh affairs. I don’t care about criticisms, because King Mohamed VI trusted me and honoured me with this role. This is my mission and I am trying my best to achieve the set targets.
AT: What will be the next step to tackle this issue, considering the last one was not welcomed?
AB: Amazigh people have managed outstanding achievements during my first mandate, this cannot be denied. We achieve the development and spread of the language, culture, as well as scientific research and also in the political field. Amazigh culture is now just another part of Moroccan culture, and we are working on making the government aware of its cultural role for the Moroccan people.
AT: Did the recent government live up to Amazigh expectations?
AB: The only thing we want is the official recognition of the Amazigh language. When this happens, this will be a historical event. Some questions remains though: will the government acknowledge our new strategy and promote the Amazigh language? If so, when will it happen? What will be the exact strategy to achieve this target and how will it be maintained? If the Amazigh language is nationally taught in schools, how will it be assessed? How will it be introduced in the media? All these questions need to be answered, which is why the institute shared its strategic planning with the government, in order to achieve these goals.
AT: During the elections, many Amazigh people supported the creation of an independent party. Would you support this initiative?
AB: I don’t know anything about that. An Amazigh is a Moroccan citizen, and therefore is allowed to vote for any party which represents the best. The new constitution guarantees equality among Moroccan people and condemn discrimination.
AT: Some of your detractors believe that this institute is an empty institution which only seeks the official recognition of the Amazigh language. How would you like to respond to this?
AB: I believe in freedom of speech and construction dialog, but I must insist on the importance of the role of this institute. It is very important to achieve our project, which would serve the Amazigh culture in politics and society but also preserve Moroccan identity.
AT: Nine years have been spent on this Amazigh teaching initiative. Can the Royal Institute of Amazigh culture offer anything else to this project?
AB: The evaluation of Amazigh teaching in Moroccan schools has not been very encouraging recently. The Education Minister is responsible for this, and the statistics show that only 26 percent of female teachers and 4 percent of male teachers teach Amazigh in schools. This is partly because of political reasons.
AT: In the media, can Amazigh be introduced on television and radio?
AB: The media agenda has not been respected from what we had agreed on the introduction of Amazigh language on Moroccan channels, in terms of duration and broadcasting times. We now aim to have an Amazigh channels, which would be very beneficial for the younger generations.