As host to the international Gnawa Music festival, Essaouira has become the African capital of world music - a crossroads between African, European, Asian and American music and culture. So far, there have been eight Gnawa festivals held here. They take place during the summer, normally in June.
Every year, thousands of Moroccan and foreign music lovers flock to the Place Moulay El-Hassan to attend this spectacular event. Last year, the opening ceremony featured Moroccan Maalem (Masters) Hamid El Kasr, Abdeslam Alikane and Abdelkebir Merchane.
Over the years, Gnawa music has received increasing international recognition. Dozens of Moroccan and international journalists now attend the event and it's covered by several famous satellite channels.
Gnawa is a spiritual and ritual form of music that has its roots in black African slavery. It's become an integral part of life for the people of Essaouira. It first appeared in Morocco over three hundred years ago, when Essaouira was a thriving port between Africa and Europe. Back then; slaves (from whom the Gnawa are descended) were sold for goods imported from Europe like ostrich feathers, gold and salt etc...
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