Richard HamiltonThe Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco

I. B. Tauris, 2011

by Nicholas Walton on September 9, 2011

Richard Hamilton

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Few places can match the Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech for spectacle. As the shadows lengthen and dusk approaches, the square seethes with snake charmers, charlatans, showmen and chancers, all shrouded in charcoal smoke from dozens of makeshift food stalls. It feels like a glimpse into a different world in a different age.

One part of that different age, however, is dying out. A handful of storytellers still make their living by captivating audiences with tales and stories of love and death, trickery and justice. Richard Hamilton came across the storytellers while working in Morocco for the BBC, and realised that the tradition was on the brink of extinction. He travelled back to the Djemaa el Fna again and again, tracking down the last of these remarkable men, before advancing years and the age of the television killed Moroccan storytelling once and for all.

The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco (I. B. Taurus, 2011) is the result of those visits. Richard talks about the roots of storytelling, the storytellers themselves, and the stories that they built their livelihoods around. He then treats us to a generous selection of the tales. I’m glad we had time in the interview to touch on some of them. It would be even better to hear some of the tales from the storytellers themselves, mesmerizing their audience in the Djemaa el Fna itself. But even if – as we fear – storytelling itself passes into history, thanks to Richard it will not be completely lost. I hope you enjoy the interview.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sam Cannarozzi April 9, 2012 at 4:01 am


Dear Mr. Hamilton,

I have juste returned from a trip through Spain, Morocco and Ghana. I have been a storyteller for thirty years and in Morocco participated in a symposium and festival on storytelling. An Irish storyteller I met there, Jack Lynch, lent me your book on the Marrakech storytellers and low and behold, the very teller I had shared a stage with at the festival was none other than Abderrahim !!! What an honor what a pleasure.

But in discussing with him through a translater, I came to learn that he NEVER received a copy of your book which features several of his stories. I promised him to contact you and get one sent to him.

Here is his address:

Abderrahim Almakori
‘Al Azalia’
Sidi Youssef Ben Ali
Dreb Hddi n° 325
Marrakech MOROCCO

Please send him a copy.

Any by the way, have you seen the film made by a German filmmaker on him and his son? Wonderful !

Enjoyed your book and hoping many good adventures for you to come.

All the best,

Sam Cannarozzi

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