A herder at the age of 6
Up until the 70s, half of Morocco’s shepherds were under the age of 15 years old. Hamu, Driss’s father, started to take care of sheep when he was only 6 years old. The family could not feed all of their children and so he went to become a herder at a young age. What’s remarkable is that he always spoke positively about his time as a herder. He loved being in the nature and taking care of the sheep. Being a shepherd enabled him to explore the different areas all along the middle atlas mountains and getting to know different cultures and people. He learned to communicate in a lot of different dialects which he was able to speak all his life. Meeting and talking to people remained his absolute favorite thing, also when he later became a tailor.
The shepherd’s life
Shepherds take care of the sheep’s well-being, grazing and movement. They know the animals’ preferred and rejected plants and growth stages of grazed plants and the best areas for grazing in the different seasons. Shepherds are positively perceived in Morocco’s rural areas. They are known for their inner strengths, patience, trustworthiness and positivity. When we are travelling through rural Morocco, we love to stop for a chat with the herders and are always welcomed with smiles. For Driss, this is especially nostalgic every time and he loves to exchange stories with the herders that his dad had passed on to him from his own time as a shepherd.
22 million sheep
Sheep play a very important role to Morocco’s economy. With a total sheep population of almost 22 million, sheep are a prominent part of the Moroccan landscape. We love the tranquility that the sheep bring to the rural areas of Morocco. Today, there is a complete disappearance of underaged herders. Most children are able to go to school now with the help of the Moroccan government and the growing knowledge of the families about the importance of education. However, it is notable that the age group of herders under the age of 30 is getting bigger which could be related to the fact that the younger generation is showing more appreciation for a slower lifestyle again.