Public clerk in Morocco..a profession that develops according to people’s need for it
lace- As soon as you enter the old city of Rabat from the entrance to Bab El Ahad (one of the historical gates in Rabat, the capital), you hear a crackle that intensifies and fades and chimes in to tell the world that here are public writers from an ancient history, dragging behind them years of experience, and forming a heritage painting pregnant with history and nostalgia.
Public clerks, whether old or contemporary, used to listen to people and formulate speech and complaint in judicial or administrative aspects, or even write a friendly letter to concerned parties. On Al Jazeera Net, we changed roles with them, and made them tell their complaints and stories.
Fingers preserve history
Bab al-Ahad has been associated with the presence of the public clerk since antiquity, as it is the entrance to a market, and the entrance to the city, and there were writers and scribes before using the typewriter, and after printing entered Morocco in the mid-18th century, and with the development of writing, 30 public clerks set out to provide a service to the capital’s pioneers who come from all directions. And they need administrative services, especially with the headquarters of the Ministries of Justice and Foreign Affairs and the headquarters of the Post, and at the end of the century there were 12 of them who obtained licenses to exploit the public space from the local authority.
At first they worked at the entrance to Bab al-Ahad between the two walls of the fence and for many years before the place turned into a picture gallery, and the writers moved into a corridor between the shops.
After the repair and maintenance work, some public clerks – their number does not exceed 8 – returned to work on worn-out printing machines. They listen to customers and speak through automatic typing motions, defying computers, the Internet, and what technology has done, and replaying the beats of metallic letters in a symphony for as long as this space has been preserved, indifferent to the typewriter that has become in the pocket of customers.
Faces whose features have been written about the history of a human’s career and path. They store between the folds of their foreheads stories of generations, their features are almost similar due to the excessive similarity of anticipation of their eyes and the smooth routine of the movements of their fingers.
My livelihood and my livelihood
With the confidence of a trained knower, Muhammad Al-Majzoub told us, who has been working as a public clerk for more than 30 years, and was a student of one of the old pioneers, to succeed him in his place of work after his death and complete the journey. He tells Al Jazeera Net, “Here I live, and from this machine my livelihood and the pension of my family.”
Muhammad tells us, his hands do not stop writing, as if his fingertips know what she is doing alone. A young man in his twenties who came from Casablanca to address a case at the Ministry of Justice sits in front of him. He follows up with him his case, answers our questions, and explains to us how the machine works, its components, and how to correct it if he makes a mistake. He is proud that he A complaint does not elude him, and a file does not hinder him, no matter how complex the process of preparing it.
With a sarcastic smile, Muhammad reminded us of what he called “the adorable days” (the beautiful days), and he expressed his love for his worn-out machine, for which he could hardly find an inking tape, and repair it himself if it broke down. Muhammad charged 60 dirhams from the customer, and indicated to him the place he should go to place his order, and it was only minutes while we were still in the place, the young man returned after completing part of his destination, to follow another procedure.
Experience is the key
Muhammad firmly believes that “the essence of writing is what matters, even if it is written by hand.” The profession of the public clerk developed from the manual pen and the inkwell, to the ink pen, to the printing machine, and then the computers that changed their mechanisms and preserved the expertise of their practitioners.
Unlike Muhammad and the rest of the book in Bab al-Ahad, Abdel Qader al-Burgadi changed his toolkit and kept the place and position, the only one out of 8 books since 2013, after having been trained with the typewriter for years. Self-made Takween, his cultural and knowledge level helped him to assimilate the profession, according to him, and he feels proud of the experience he has accumulated in printing. He told us how he had to find himself an electricity supplier at first, so he used a charging battery and a transformer, before he was able to provide electricity from his neighbors in one of the shops.
Abdel Qader believes that the public clerk has what differentiated him in others, as he is a writer, editor, psychiatrist, legal consultant, administrative consultant, and mentor, according to him.
The public clerk practices a mediation profession. You find him familiar with legal terms and administrative formulas in order to reach the official, a profession nourished by administrative bureaucracy and illiteracy of all kinds of study and knowledge, and people need it in order to shorten the distances of court and administration halls.
Abd al-Salam bin Saeed, the general secretary of the National Authority for Public Writers, says – in an interview with Al Jazeera Net – that public clerks are of various types and do not practice a single activity. There are consular services, and there is another category that was historically found in front of the mail, where it provided the service of writing letters and communication.
Ibn Said explained that it is the environment that dictates the nature of services, the demand determines the specializations, and the public clerk develops his expertise according to people’s need for him.
The number of local writers reaches 34,680, distributed throughout Morocco, and the profession defines the arrival of new generations with high levels of education, and it has relations with modern technology, social media and computers.
Abd al-Salam bin Saeed says that the profession is not framed by law, but rather by licenses to exploit public property or licenses to open a shop, that is, within the framework of tax fees for groups, and confirms that the indicator of measuring experience is determined by practice and trust.
The framing of the profession of public clerks witnessed a debate in Parliament and an argument with the Ministry of Justice about the drafting of contracts, and the National Authority is still arguing for the organization of the profession and the regulation of its duties, rights and areas of work.
Looking forward to a better reality
The scene from Bab El Ahad in Rabat is similar to other scenes in Fez, Tangier and Oujda. The old instrument writers working on the sidewalk have remained from an ancient time, jostling with modern public clerks and sharing with them the characteristic. On the other hand, the book Bab al-Ahad in Rabat shares the difficult working conditions, mainly working in the open, under the heat of the sun, the cold of winter, and the curiosity of passersby.
Among them is a writer who shows signs of old age more than others, he kept staring at us after he refused to talk to us, and his tongue says: We want someone to hear our complaints and change the reality of our situation. Oblivion, the field bears witness to us, and the historical wall stores our history within it. The sounds of our machines passed between its rocks and belonged to the place. We were given the gift of patience and waiting, satisfied with what is possible, looking forward to a better reality.