Reaching for Intercultural Dialogue in Morocco: the 3rd International Jazz Festival of Agadir

Updated: Dec 18, 2019


In late October, I visited Agadir to attend the city’s 3rd annual international jazz festival, Anmoggar N Jazz. Held under the auspices of the Municipality of Agadir, the region Souss-Massa, the French and Spanish Consulates in Agadir and the Regional Tourism Council, this year’s edition aimed at ‘promoting jazz in all its diversity’, ‘setting up a springboard for young jazz talents’ and ‘anchoring the festival as a cultural and tourist offer in the city of Agadir’. Through the supply of free events such as evening concerts, master classes, workshop-lectures, after-hours jam sessions, a showcase of musical instruments and performances in the festival village, the organisers intended to open up spaces for ‘sharing, tolerance, intercultural dialogue and creativity’. By taking its name from the Tashelhit language, literally meaning ‘jazz festival’, Anmoggar N Jazz draws on the cultural identity and heritage of Morocco’s native population, the Amazigh. This represents a specificity, which not only sets the festival apart from the other already established ones in the country, but ultimately leads to the question: What is so Amazigh about this jazz festival?

The festival is the brainchild of Franck Patillot, the former director of the French Institute of Agadir. It was originally announced as an autumn jazz festival promoting French jazz to the Agadir public and started out with a three day-long set of events attracting 900 visitors in 2017. For its second edition in 2018, the Spanish Consulate joined making it an even bigger festival, in the course of which 3200 people attended eleven concerts over four days. The same year marked the end of Patillot’s tenure as acting director of the French Institute, so in order to keep the festival running on an annual basis, he and his team decided to initiate the foundation of the Association Anmoggar N Jazz. This initiative aims not only to involve the local population more in the festival’s proceedings, but also to push forward Patillot’s idea of combining jazz performances by international groups with strengthening Agadir’s tourism industry, music education sector and sense of community.

This year’s festival centred around Agadir’s town hall, which housed the main venue for the evening concerts, la Salle Brahim Radi. In between the post-Corbusian brutalist building and the nearby Wall of Commemoration – both which were built in the aftermath of the city’s destruction through the severe earthquake of February 29, 1960 – a series of white tents made up the festival village. There, you could find a stage for afternoon performances by local rock, pop and fusion bands next to a collection of musical instruments by the Association Agadir Gnawa des Arts Populaires et du Théatre, better known by the name of its concert venue/cultural centre Jazzawiya</