Zakya Daoud’s Les Années Lamalif

I am reading Zakya Daoud‘s new book, Les Années Lamalif. 1958-1988. Trente ans de journalisme au Maroc. Daoud is a fascinating person, and one hopes that a proper biography will someday be devoted to her. Born Jacqueline David in a small town in Normandy, she went to journalism school in Paris. There, she met Mohammed Loghlam, whom she married and followed to Casablanca in 1958, after the completion of their degrees. Loghlam applied formally for Moroccan citizenship (he was born in Casablanca to a Moroccan mother and an Algerian father), for himself and for their son, but when the citizenship papers came through, they included Jacqueline’s as well, even though she never asked for them. This clerical error resulted in her becoming one of very few naturalized Moroccans. Later on, the editor of Jeune Afrique suggested that she take on a pseudonym when she started writing for him, and that was how Jacqueline David became Zakya Daoud. Years later, her detractors still used her foreign birth to criticize her and to deny her the right to speak out on any number of political issues in Morocco. The wound of being called “nesranya” is very raw still, as her many references to it in the book attest.

Les Années Lamalif is a chronicle of Daoud’s work as a journalist at various organizations in Morocco, including the Radio Télévision Marocaine, and all the difficulties that such work entailed, including several vicious altercations with Moulay Ahmed Alaoui, the imprisonment of many friends or acquaintances, the constant threat of censorship. In 1966, using all their savings, Daoud and Loghlam founded Lamalif , which would later become a reference for many in the opposition movement. Daoud published the work of Abdallah Laroui, Mohammed Tozy, Paul Pascon, and many others. It’s very clear that this was a period not just of political upheaval, but also of great cultural and literary activity. There are a few gossipy tidbits (e.g. How the Souffles group became upset when a Lamalif article by a young Salim Jay ridiculed a reading by some of their poets.) There are also disturbing anecdotes (e.g. Daoud being required to go to the local commissariat regularly to be questioned about matters of public knowledge.) Most of all, Les Années Lamalif is a rigorous account of all the work that went into contesting the established power structure, into saying No to the Makhzen‘s domination.

Although the book is exceedingly interesting, it suffers occasionally from a tendency to list series of events rather than placing them in a narrative, whether personal or historical. This may be due to the fact that Daoud’s journals were stolen from her by Moroccan security on a flight to Paris in 1988, so she had no access to her personal notes from those years, and had to rely instead on memory, documentation, and research. Still, this is an important book, a reference for the younger generation. May they read it and draw the necessary parallels.