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Walking into the cemetery in Fez, one is greeted by a square grid of white stone half-cylindrical gravestones. The ancient Jewish cemetery, called a gisa, continued even after a new cemetery was necessitated by the establishment of a mellah in 1438. The new cemetery grew out of where victims of the pogrom of 1465 were buried at a particular space near the mellah’s entrance. The Jewish cemetery was an indelible part of Jewish communal life. Burial customs are a unique blend of Jewish law (halacha) and customs particular to North African Jewry. For instance, the entire community traditionally carries the deceased’s coffin on their shoulders on the way to the cemetery while a shofar is sounded. During the shiva period of mourning, the deceased’s family camped at the gravesite while the entire community gathered around to declare publicly their charitable contributions in the deceased’s memory. To learn more about this site and explore others, visit our exhibit website (http://www.jewishmorocco.org/?page_id=1148)
Welcome to Africa, AKA the motherland! Check out African Internet Radio while you're scoping the panoramas.The earliest fossil of the homo sapiens family (human beings) was found in Ethiopia, dating back more than 200,000 years. Compared to this length of time, even the "ancient Sumerians" from 6000 B.C. are drooling toddlers.Let's mention a few African heroes you may have heard of, for inspiration in the face of the continued economic inequality and violence which plague Africa today: Nelson Mandela, first democratically elected President of South Africa, who fought against apartheid and served 27 years in prison while advocating freedom and peace. Haile Salassie, Emperor of Ethiopia, who resisted Mussolini and the fascist Italian invasion of WWII, and who is worshipped as an incarnation of God by the Rastafari movement. Kwame Nkrumah, first Prime Minister of Ghana, advocate of uniting Africa in Pan-Africanism. Fela Kuti, inventor of Afrobeat music, who declared his home to be an independent state, ran for president of Nigeria, and to whose funeral ONE MILLION PEOPLE came to pay their respects.In June 2001 the African Union was formed, consisting of 53 African States organized, like in the EU, around common economic and political development.Text by Steve Smith.