Fatima Sadiqi’s book Feminist Daughters With Military Fathers provides an amazing historical overview of the Moroccan military. Predominantly textbook in nature, it could serve as a valuable resource for college courses on Moroccan military history. Organized in five chapters, these are preceded by an introduction that clarifies Sadiqi’s purpose for writing it: “The book is both personal and scholarly. It is personal in paying homage to my father, and it is scholarly in attempting to address the hypothesis and paradox…” of women accessing education thanks to the participation in the military of their rural Berber fathers. Interestingly, many rural military Berber men, serving under the French, became aware of the incredible possibilities education could present as a sort of “passport to success” for their children. Many of these men not only provided funds, but checked on their children’s progress along the way, and spoke openly and highly of their children’s educational attainment to friends and family.
Sadiqi devotes one chapter to her father, Mouhamd ou Lahcen Sadiqi, with others dedicated to the social aspect of belonging to the military; gender and the military; the Moroccan military as an institution; and finally, information from interviews of the self-described feminist daughters of military Berber fathers. All the testimonies of these polished and professional women express deep appreciation for their fathers.
Mouhamd ou Lahcen Sadiqi, the author’s father, was an illiterate rural Berber man whose exact birth date was never known. His mother died when he was quite young, resulting in much suffering under the yoke of unkind stepmothers. Upon joining the French occupying military, he, like many other military men, assumed the French reverence for education. Thus, while the male was expected to be the breadwinner for his family, through military alliance, he was able to impart access to education for daughters as well. This ensured respect and loyalty to his family, a basic trait of Berber culture.
Tribes in Morocco, either Berber or Arab in origin, are characterized by beautiful rugs, linked to their ancestors, that are shown off with pride. Tribal Berbers may be identified by their accents and rug designs. Sadiqi points out that having land puts one in a great state of wealth. A reader will learn much about Morocco, the history of its military, and its cultural traditions and mores. Finally, the reader will get to the interview responses of the feminist daughters at the end.
In spite of errors missed in editing (especially toward the beginning of the book), the book is impressive for scholars of Morocco. I found the title a bit misleading since the chapter with responses from the feminist daughters was the last chapter, arriving after several historical chapters on Morocco and its military history. Still, the cultural references, language, and human interest segments make this book a good choice. I’d recommend it for those who have visited Morocco, or plan to visit. There is so much historical richness behind the scenes in this country and Sadiqi is able to capture that narrative in her text to share with others.