I first met Anass Yakine back in 2014 as I organized with Tangier’s Photography Club -a club I was member of back then- his arrival to Tangier marking the end of his two years long journey across Morocco. We threw a gnawa party in his honor, he spoke for several hours about his legacy to a spellbound audience and it was plain beautiful.
On the 16th of February 2016, my school’s cinema club, The “ Clap! “, invited him for a conference and, of course, I had to attend. I was willing to introduce myself all over again as I thought that he probably would not remember me giving that he must meet new people every week and at every event, but I was wrong. He welcomed me with a big smile and a hug, and even remembered the story behind Elbidouna I had told him 3 years ago. The reason I’m telling you this is because I want you to realize that this guy is truly as genuine as it gets. He is not faking it for the fame, he is not an attention seeker, and he did not just get lucky. Put your metropolitan perplexity away and come with me as I introduce you to the art of Anass Yakine, would you!
Anass Yakine is the son of a modest Casablancaise family, that grew up in a rough neighborhood where he learnt a lot especially from a guy named Omar that mentored him the I-turned-out-to-be-a—junkie-and-a-criminal-but-I-wish-better-for-you way. When he was around 14 years old, Anass’ father would drop him off at the intercity bus station with a minimum budget and oblige him to take the first leaving bus wherever it takes him. This went on for years and Anass explains that it forged his personality and taught him minimalism and the true meaning of happiness. When he turned 15, the national-hero-to-be was diagnosed with a diseased called Osgood-Schlatter, a knee infection that meant that he was not supposed to walk long distances. Yes. That is the same guy that walked 5000 kilometers later on. He got his baccalaureate in 2005, registered by default at the university closest to home, 2 years through, all classes passed, he decides to drop out, goes to his parents and tells them just that. He says that this decision was the result of a meta-position where he asked himself futile yet existential questions such as “ why do we wait for the week-end to do what we love, to get happy?”, “Why are we so grumpy on Monday mornings?”. “ If you live for the week-ends, and you die at 70 years old, you’ve only spent 20 years of life happy, what about the rest?”. His goal behind this sudden change back then was not especially to hit the road, but rather to “be happy despite what week day it is!”. As he explains “ It ended up with me travelling across Morocco as it could also have ended up with me setting a street shop somewhere, or maybe I could have ended up behind a desk. Because yes, there are people that are happy working behind a desk and that is perfectly okay as long as they are happy!”. And, for me, that is the most important thing to retain from the inspirational speech of outsiders like Anas or Allae Hammioui; it’s not an invitation to quit your job, grow hair and go live a baba cool life far from civilization, but it’s rather an invitation to realize that by undertaking small changes in your own daily life you can be significantly happier. Now the small changes in question may include quitting your job, growing hair and adopting a hippie life style, and that, as well, is perfectly okay! As for Anas, travelling he says, is his oxygen. Something he realized since his early years thanks to the non-orthodox yet highly pedagogical methods of his fathers and also later when he would join his friends, the musicians of an underground Moroccan band called Hoba Hoba Spirit on tour. And therefore he decided to conciliate his passion, traveling, and his job and figured out he would do that by learning the techniques to become a documentarist. He started with a first primarily trip from Casa to Ouarzazate that lasted 23 days and took 900KM back and forth. The concept was simple he explains : “ I would do it like I was going to the grocery store, go out of the house, go to Ouarzazate and come back”. In 2010, he receives a message from both the globetrotter Pierre Fritsch and the French-Moroccan comedian Jamel Debbouze. He couldn’t believe his eyes as it happened in a context where everyone he knew would tell him “ Wach ma3andek maydar?” (=do you have nothing to do?). About that he says “ I always asked myself what do they meant by “ maydar “ (=something to do/worthy of doing), what is it that they want me to do? The stay at home women is doing something, someone that is home asleep all day long is doing something, someone that is sitting behind a desk is doing something, and I, am doing something. I’m traveling. The only person not doing something is the person that is dead. It’s just that we reduced the “maydar” into the classical career where you get your diploma, a house, a car, a wife, and you die ” .
He started his tour in Morocco in 2012 and since then, hundreds of people hosted him as “Daif lah” (=God’s guest), Moroccans and foreign, young and elders joined him for a few kilometers, he met his soulmate amongst them, the inside-out beautiful Amal Chouli, gave more than 100 conferences, had a segment on a show on national TV, and is now preparing his tour around Africa along with his companion, Amal, entitled “ Yakines Around Africa ”. I could go on and on about the amazing legacy of this man, relate to you the stories I heard him narrate with such serenity, tell you about that time he met a man living in autarky that hadn’t seen any human being in years, or the time he wittily pushed his own mother to adopt a much healthier life style but I wouldn’t report them with as much passion so I leave it to him to do so. How you ask? Everyone’s favorite Moroccan globetrotter is writing a book! And it’s to be called “Mashi Mashi” (= a mythical persona you can find in kids tales).
I was sitting there towards the end of the conference all dreamy, appreciating the loving look Amal gave her husband while he spoke with such passion, and staring at Nounous, Anass’ Teddybear that accompanies him everywhere throning on the scene of that amphitheater that was, until now, only reminiscent of the speeches of the ministers and other conventional success stories. I was listening to the discourse that was taking place, to the ideas that were being discussed, to how free and unconventional they were. And I suddenly felt genuine happiness at the realization that my Morocco was growing more free and tolerant. We now have a national globetrotter, you guys! Kids and dreamers are gonna look up to this guy and think that they, too, can make it!
The BIDOU Q&A is a set of 10 standard questions going from some very basic fun ones to some pseudeo-deep ones that I ask my guests each time to get to know more about them in a light way.
Here is Anass Yakine’s take at the BIDOU-Q&A :
“A worldwide trip, of course!” and a few seconds later ”…or a trip to space, why not!”
“ No. I’m keeping the sand. It’s hard to substitute something to the sand, because it’s an element of a big equation and it fits perfectly in there!”
I ain’t gonna argue with someone who swept the sahara, Am I!
- Théodore Monod
- Sarah Marquis, a Swiss globetrotter
- “ It has to be a city? You know I’m not very into cities!”
No. It can be any place!
“ The saharah!”
- Hoba – 7yati
- ” It can be a Quran verset?”
Yes, of course it’s open!
” قال تعالى : ” قُلْ سِيرُوا فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُوا كَيْفَ بدأ الخلق
- A color : Green
” because I’m forever a Raja fan! I can’t help it! I’m all like philosophical and stuff but that is the only your-typical-casaoui-guy-next-door trait I can’t get rid of!”
” The human being is god’s caliph on earth.”
” Im happy when we hit the road me and Amal! And I get sad when I’m on the road as I fear for my parents and I keep thinking what if something happens to them while I’m on the road…But you know you can’t never have it all and they know that i’m happy doing what i do and that is what matters”
” How to travel! There are people that travel to empty their heads and there are people who travel to fill up their souls! Aim to belong to the second type. ”
” The project that takes me by heart currently is Djebli club! Go support that!”
” Education! A good education fixes the rest!”
” I think that before speaking about a dreams-empowering environment , we should accept each other mutually. We should accept our differences and believe that we are similar through the fact that we are different! -What bring us togheter is the fact that we’re different as paradoxal as it sounds !- And we will no longer hear “ Wach ma3andek maydar?”. Because we will become aware that what looks like nothing to us is someone else’s everything and therefore we will bcome more tolerant and we will then empower people by letting them have whatever dream they have. “