It’s Good to be King
It’s good to be king. I can’t get that phrase out of my mind. Its a line Mel Brooks delivers in some movie. Morocco has a king, King Mohammed the 6th or more properly VIth….roman numerals being reserved for ultra high status individuals like Kings and Popes. His name almost guarantees his continued popularity as it seems 1/2 the males have the name Mohammed here. How can he go wrong? I certainly wouldn’t rebel against King Douglas or King Frank for that matter. It’s good to be king.
Everywhere you go, you see pictures of the king, for it is the law that each business must display that picture. He is a rakishly handsome man about 45 years old I would guess. The king is very involved in the lives of the people. They know where he is, when he’s coming. Each Friday he attends the Mosque wherever he is and those services are broadcast live around the country. For the service, the king walks down a special walkway that only he may walk, and then the king sits up on stage next to the main priest (imam). It’s good to be king.
I often ask people to rate the king and I have gotten so many different responses, its bewildering. He’s a good king, he’s a bad king, he has all the power, he has no power, he’s better than his father ( king Hassan the IInd, 12 years ago), he’s better than his grandfather ( King Mohammed the Vth), we need a democracy, a good king is the best form of government. I have determined that the king holds all the power in the country. Although there is a parliament, they can only recommend things to the king, he doesn’t have to do it. Today I heard a good one. ” I like the king, but I hate the government”. “But isn’t the king the government”? “Yes that’s right”. “So…then you hate the king,”” no. I love the king, and I hate the government.” How can you argue with logic like that? It’s good to be King.
I met some students who consider themselves revolutionaries. They violate the public assembly ban. Apparently it is against the law for 5 or more people to congregate in a public place. These students want a democratically elected government. They hold what they call philosophy theater. For their theater they hold public debates in public squares to discuss questions such as, what is democracy, what are its advantages and disadvantages etc. in the beginning just 2 of their members debate, but later the audience is encouraged to join in. They are media savy, broadcasting event times on Facebook and Twitter, and hold numerous events around the country. “technically you are violating the law every time you play your saxophone, and 4 or more people stop to listen.” ” that rarely happens” , I quipped, “but sometimes it does.” I am happy to aid the revolution in anyway I can, but I hope your democracy works better than ours does.” they told me that the king, in his weekly address last week, told the people, the farmers, desperately needed rain. He asked everyone to pray for rain. Everyone did. Guess what, it rained the night I met the students. I noticed and turned up my collar, and put my instrument away. The king looks so powerful now. He made it rain. Never mind that rain was forecast a week ago according to long range weather forecasts. He had those reports held back anyway. Even people who knew about the forecasts though, think the king did it. People want to believe their king is powerful like that. It’s good to be king.
The King set up co-operatives for woman workers in which they sell directly to the public. While these co-opts seem to be much more expensive than other stores, some people prefer them because the profits go more directly to the women working in their homes. These co-opts are run by women. It sounds good. The king also constructed ultra-modern street cars in Casablanca and Rabat. The fare is about 1 dollar (7 dirhams). The trams look great, but the beggars, old men and women,blind, pathetic children, and crippled people that are desperately begging for 1/2 or 1 dirham at all hours, don’t look so great. They could never afford the fare. The countless cafes and Tea and coffee houses are filled with men of all ages at all times. They just sit there, sometimes talking, sometimes watching football. They are not lazy, they just don’t have any jobs. They get in the way of pictures that show what a modern place Morocco has become. It’s good to be king.
The king has a palace in every city. Outside the flowery gates stand 3 or 4 different kinds of guards. Some are soldiers lugging a gun, some are ornately dressed in red velvet uniforms carrying a flag on a stick. Some look like sargaents in the army. I get anywhere close to a gate and they watch me like hawks. If I even touch my camera they flag me down. NO PICTURES! .You may not walk in front of a gate, or at least I may not, maybe because I am likely not a Muslim. It’s good to be king.
I walked near a palace in Tanger. The soldier guard held the bore of his rifle to his mouth and wiggled his fingers on the body of the rifle. He had seen me play in the square the night before. I was going to ask if I could take his picture doing that, but I checked myself. Better not play with crazy soldiers who have guns. I was hoping the King would hear of me and invite me to play for him, but so far I haven’t heard from him. It’s good to be king.
Morocco is small enough, just a few hours by train between major cities, that the King can be intimately involved with all citizens. Almost every business has a picture of the King in their shop or store. These are of course proudly displayed next to the King’s picture. This intimacy strengthens his connection and popularity. Everyone has met or knows someone who has met the king. In each city the main street is named Mohammed Vth after his grandfather. The major mosques are named after his father, Hassan the II. It is almost 100% sure that when he dies or retires major things will be named after him (unless he is overthrown). It’s good to be king. I think I should like to try it.