The Equestrian Tbourida or Fantasia festival is one of the most authentic cultural activities in Morocco and a big sport for rural Berbers. The traditional equestrian sport was made popular by the French artist Eugène Delacroix, who immortalized it in his painting Fantasia Arabe in 1833. Tbourida was nominated for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2019.
Tbourida includes a few conventional arms tournaments. The riders are wearing Berber clothing. Teams serve separate villages and must engage in the synchronicity of riding horses and firing gunpowder jezail muskets high over their heads. Winning an annual competition between various remote villagers will mean cash prizes and bragging rights.
If you’re going to tour Morocco in October, there’s an experience you can’t skip. Travel to El-Jadida, a town on the coast only 100 kilometers south of Casablanca, for the International El Jadida Horse Show to explore Tbourida in Morocco.
Tbourida one of the festival’s most famous competitions is the Grand Prix of Tbourida. Tbourida (also known as Fantasia) is an old tradition in the Maghreb region. It consists of a party of about ten riders wearing the typical costumes of their tribe, an elegant djellaba. The horse saddlery is often well decorated with homemade embroidery. The collection of riders and horses achieves a very vivid and photogenic picture.
The party charges the M’qaddem, under the direction of the leading rider, for around 200 meters, in a straight line with speed. At a certain moment, they all shoot the old muskets that they carry in a well-synchronized shot.
The result of a single shot multiplied by 10 is the apotheosis of this race. It’s a big explosion, particularly if you happen to be watching the display from a spot near the arrival location. Aim to get at the head of the horses as quickly as possible. The adrenaline rockets as the blast takes place, the smoke invades the air, and the riders are swift to reel in their horses and embrace the latest explosion, this time with cheering from the hysteric public. We had barely regained our morale when a new party was already lined up and ready for a frantic sprint.
Now, Moroccan women are changing the rules
Quote : “Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. Women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength.” -G.D. Anderson
Afrae Ben Bih is twenty-five years old. She resides near the capital of Morocco, Rabat. Her dad taught her to ride when she was a girl. It was back then when she found her love for Fantasia. After a lot of hard work and support from her friends, Afrae created the first female equestrian unit at the age of 18 and confronted her detractors. There are just a handful of the initial women remaining, since many left the party when they got married. Afrae focused on social media to create friends and set up a new unit. Sanaa El Moustache is one of the only women on the squad who don’t come from a family of riders who have an equestrian background. She also kept her love hidden from her parents for a long time. This documentary tracks Afrae’s troupe as they plan to perform in Fantasia. Families, mates, team members, and men have a voice, as the film brings audiences to a land of masculine tradition and carnival spirit.