A Morroccan night in Chicago

By Sean Ahmed

Exotic sounds and tasty treats pleased students and community members Thursday night at the International House. For its winter quarter event, the Middle Eastern Studies Student Association (MESSA) organized an evening to explore Morocco through words, music, and food.

Josh Ellis, the president of MESSA, said that it is important to educate people on aspects of Middle Eastern countries besides merely the political struggles that define them in the media. “I think that gives one side of a much larger story of what goes on in the Middle East,” Ellis said.

A crowded room of about 100 listened intently as the Hicham Chami Mosaic Trio performed songs from Tunisia to Armenia. Moroccan-born Hicham Chami played the qanun, an instrument that is popular in Turkish and Arabic music. Chami said he has a passion for “making this form of music available to the largest possible audience.” Responding to a request from the audience, the trio finished with an encore. The Muwashah is a song written in the samai rhythm that calls for clapping on the first, sixth, and seventh beats. The audience happily obliged.

After the rousing performance, everyone endured a long line to dine on Moroccan food. Participants hungrily gobbled down couscous, pita, vegetables, and baklava, among other delicacies.