There was a time when the world was truly vast and people were very much apart. A time when everyone relied on scarce forms of obtaining news, a time when one wrote a letter to a loved one, and waited days if not weeks to have news back.
Today’s technology, has shrunk the world into a minute entity; With the abundance of news providers, social media and fast and instant messaging, we have come to learn about events as they occur, good, bad or ugly.
Technology has also meant opening a free for all channel to those whose intentions are not always conducive to the greater good.
The last year or so have been particularly poignant for all.The devastating results of erroneous religious narratives, whether in Europe or elsewhere have all touched us here and INDEED impacted on how we view matters and treat each other.
With this in mind it is pertinent that relentless optimism, vigilance and cooperation for the greater good must be the principal on which everyone must live by. We must work on what bring us together, and not what divides us.
And nowhere to my knowledge has this cooperation been as spectacularly positive as the one in our tiny village, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
This borough has not only been my home since the age of 12 but also the home of over 10000 Moroccans in addition to other Arab nationalities. It welcomes the immigrant, the refugee and persecuted; the businessman and the diplomat: from the Arab world and beyond.
Kensington and Chelsea encompass in particular, the mosaic, the multi- coloured tapestry of cultures that are the rich diversity within the Arab world as we know it.
Our tiny village that is the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, has changed tremendously since the 70s, and it has changed for the better, precisely because of tolerance and peaceful coexistence. Whether as immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers or business people, a significant number of the UK Arab community in all its superb ethnic and cultural mix, has chosen this borough as its permanent home.
Royal borough of Kensinton and Chelsea is a home that boasts with superb Arab presence; from our local Moroccan Garden in the North of the borough to the Borough’s own Nour Art festival.
Golborne Road is often referred to as the London Marrakesh, with its colourful Moroccan shops, cafes and traders. It is worth taking a stroll on a Saturday to see, feel and smell the strong Moroccan presence and may be even practice Moroccan Arabic dialect and pick up few items after a good haggle!!Always haggle; it is the pleasure of doing business with Moroccans!
Arabic is now the second most spoken language in this wonderful borough of ours. It is only through tolerance, mutual respect and indeed coexistence that two so different cultures have been able to be part of our integral lives here and in perfect harmony.
The good examples are many to mention and I hope that the efforts, hard work and indeed positive energy ploughed by all concerned, will continue to bear the fruit of positive citizenship and tolerance.
As a member of the CCME, it has become my duty to look out for all Moroccans within the UK and I was indeed pleasantly surprised that there is a vibrant Moroccan-Jewish community thriving in North- Finchley. It is well established and has its own synagogue. We have since created an association called MimounaUK with an ethos and principal of bringing both together to show tolerance and spread tolerance. We hope MimounaUK will be a major contributor to next year’s festival.
And finally a big thank you to the Royal borough for being a great home, a supporter and indeed a marvellous host: that has not only accepted our traditions and respected our faith, but continually encouraged our integration. The unyielding support has been overwhelming and I’m deeply grateful.
Wishing Nour festival, success and long life.
Souad Talsi MBE October 2016
By Mrs Souad Talsi, CCME’s member in the UK