Thursday, 20 January 2011

McKenzie Listens Hard

McKenzie sat sipping his piping-hot mint tea. There wasn’t too much tea in the small chunky tumbler on account of it being crammed full of fresh mint leaves and far too much sugar. He sat at a wobbly table surrounded by a variety of leathery faced, deeply browned and near toothless men who all looked, at least, twice their age.
They babbled away in a thick Arabic dialect making sure that they kept their conversation secret from uninvited ears. Sucking habitually on their shared hookah pipe, they took no notice of McKenzie’s curious gaze.
Marrakech, nestled into the foothills of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains in southern Morocco, is a bizarre place. Sitting at this shabby little café, McKenzie had a commanding view over Djema el Fna, the main square of the old city.
Everywhere he looked, McKenzie could feast his eyes on a vast array of extraordinary delights. Alive with the buzz of tourists and locals alike, the square was a hive of activity day and night. There was never any shortage of fascinating entertainment.
Despite the huge diversity of acts to watch and tempting food to eat there was one particular activity that captured McKenzie’s undivided attention; the storyteller. Like a talking newspaper from the High Atlas, these specially trained and skilled orators came into the city every few months to tell their news. More popular than the snake-charmers, acrobats and fire-eaters, the crowds flocked to glean news of their distant relatives who lived secluded among the nomadic Berbers.
McKenzie was especially interested in news of Kahina; a young noblewoman who was betrothed to a ruthless Lord of the Atlas, a survivor from the infamous House of Glaoua.
He strained his ears to hear, although the swelling crowd was hushed and hanging on every word, he still found it challenging to follow the strong Tamazight accent. Suddenly, like the sound of a finger-flick on a pure crystal glass, her name hung in the air resonating above the dusty crowd. It was as he had feared, Kahina was pregnant….
Song of Solomon 2:10-12……My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”
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