Gnaoua Khamlia - Merzouga Sahara desert

Gnaoua music in Khamlia village

Gnaoua Khamlia - Merzouga Sahara desert

Khamlia is a village in the southeastern part of Morocco, 7km south of the famous village called Merzouga in the province of Errachidia. It has a population of about 405 from Gnaoua and Berber (Amazigh) ethnic origin. Khamlia is located exactly at the foot of Erg Chebbi dunes, doors to the great Sahara desert.

Watch this youtube video below to get an idea about how Gnawa music sounds

Khamlia's people also named "gnaouas" originated in black Africa, they have a close and long standing relationship with the desert, their ancestors were brought from central and west Africa, through the Sahara desert in caravans that arrived to the southeastern part of Morocco.

After their emancipation, they survived as nomads moving regularly in search of favorable land for their herds. Around the 50s and 60s they started to settle down with the Berber nomads in towns or in the growing urban areas. That is the way Khamlia was founded. Since then the main sources of income are agriculture, livestock farming and lately also tourism.

The village annual music festival is called "Sadaka" (religious charity), and it occurs during three days every July or August. In the weeks preceding the festival, the Gnaouas ask their neighbors, the Berbers and other nearby villages for donations (in the form of sugar, tea, food, or money).
The first day a lamb is sacrificed and the collected donations are used to prepare a huge couscous for all the attendees.
Music s played non-stop night and day for three days. people in Khamlia believe that the sadaka is meant to cure the sick people and to gain 'Baraka' (god's blessings) through music and dance.
Some people can enter a state of transitory trance, thanks to the incessant rhythm of the drums and the chants.. It is a spiritual experience that is also practiced in other parts of Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean.

Khamlia's music, in the hands on the gnaoua tribe, is the essence of the place. The music is legendary from their ancestors, preserved from their original homeland and still played in a traditional manner, no new electrical equipment or anything, just the raw instruments.

Until the 90s, the gnawa music was only played during the "Sadaka' or in specific family event such as weddings or baptisms, at that time the music patrimony was in decline and only the men of the family played it. So there was a huge risk that such a great cultural heritage will fade and vanish with time. That is the reason why some local musicians decided to teach the gnawa music to kids and youth of Khamlia village.

Nowadays there are few ganoua music groups in Khamlia that play songs throughout the years to both Moroccan and International tourists, which has brought good vibe to the village and helped a little bit its economy.
We encourage you to visit Khamlia and to have this great spiritual musical experience not to be found anywhere else. And better if you could attend the annual festival. The village and also people are very nice so you will not regret your visit.

Contact informations: Hyper Morocco Tours

Smail Jarrou
Quartier Elmhamid 9
Marrakech 50000 Morocco
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Tel / Whatsapp: Soon