International Folklore “RED SAND” Festival

INTERNATIONAL FOLKLORE “RED SAND” FESTIVAL

Safi, under the name Safim ( Zaffim or Asfi ), is one of the oldest cities in Morocco, hence its foundation date is unknown. According to historian Mohammed al-Kanuni, Safi must be identified with the ancient Thymiaterion or Carcunticus and was founded by the Carthaginian Hanno during his Periplus as related by Pliny the Elder.

Under the Almohads it functioned as an important port to the capital Marrakesh. The city was under Portuguese rule from 1488 to 1541; it is believed that they abandoned it to the Saadians (who were at war with them), since the city proved difficult to defend from land attacks. The Portuguese fortress built to protect the city is still there today.

After 1541, the city played a major role in Morocco as one of the safest and biggest seaports in the country. Many ambassadors to the Saadian and Alaouite kings during the 16-th 18-th centuries came to Morocco via Asfi; its proximity to Marrakech, then capital of Morocco, helped expand the maritime trade in the city.

RED SAND FESTIVAL MOMENTS

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Louis De Chénier, consul of the French court in Morocco in 1767, reported that the city was the only usable seaport at the time. A French Navy captive, Bidé de Maurville , who wrote the account of his stay in Morocco in his 1765 book Relations de l’affaire de Larache, reported the presence of an important number of foreign trading houses in the city: Dutch, Danish, British and French.

After the Sultan Mohammed ben Abdallah built the city of Mogador, he banned foreign trade in all Moroccan ports except in his newly built city. Consequently, Safi stopped playing a leading role in the Moroccan trade. Safi’s patron saint is Abu Mohammed Salih. In 1942 as part of Operation Torch, American forces attacked Safi in Operation Blackstone.

During November 8-10, 1942 the Americans took control over Safi and its port and took relatively few casualties compared to the other operations at Casablanca and at Port Mehdia .

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