Hacks/Hackers Rabat: To E or not to Be

The first meetup of Hacks/Hackers Rabat in Morocco.

At the first meetup of Hacks/Hackers Rabat in Morocco.

For the first time in Morocco, Hacks/Hackers was organized in November 2012, in Rabat, the capital, but the story did not start from that date. It started in February 2012, when some friends and I founded the first think tank in Morocco working on using media for development.

One of our reasons to establish this NGO, was to contribute in reducing the gap in the digital knowledge of journalists in Morocco.

As the founder and head of this think tank, I started contacting international foundations working in the same field. At the same time, Ayman Salah, ICFJ Knight fellow, was looking for a media partner in Morocco to establish Hacks/Hackers Rabat.

Destiny played well for both of us. I was in Egypt when he contacted me, so we met, he talked to me about Hacks/Hackers, it was my first time to discover this “American concept.” I liked it and did not hesitate to agree to be this media partner in Morocco.

What’s Hacks/Hackers? It becomes a common question that Moroccan journalists asked me every time I talked to them about our desire to open Hacks/Hackers in Morocco.

This was our first challenge, to explain the meaning of Hacks/Hackers, especially because English is not the first foreign language in Morocco (it’s French). The official languages are Arabic and Berber, so the mission was not as easy to translate as we thought.

We did our best to avoid this linguistic challenge by keeping “Hacks/Hackers” as a concept and word too, and not translate it into Arabic or French. We also chose to be patient in explaining the meaning to our target audience instead of using translation. We’d like to motivate Moroccan journalists to be open to new ways of learning new media, and not be stuck in the French school.

Our first meetup, “To E or Not To Be,” was very attractive for our target audience More than 50 participants attended Hacks/Hackers Rabat. We organized it in the only public institute for journalism and communication in Morocco, ISIC.

For the first time, senior journalists, junior journalists, bloggers, journalism students, NGO leaders, even politicians and delegates of the ministry of communication were in the same workshop to talk “Hacks/Hackers.”

Ayman Salah welcomes attendees to Hacks/Hackers Rabat.

I could not forget the positive reactions of our attendees, so I asked Ayman Salah to come again to organize another meetup. This time we selected Casablanca, the economic capital of Morocco. We chose different subjects from those selected for Rabat. “Spread your content, and “Show me the money” were our themes for Hacks/Hackers Casablanca.

In 2013, our target is to organize Hacks/Hackers Bus. We’d like to visit every Moroccan city. We’d like to put Hacks/Hackers in every corner of our country in accordance with the Hacks/Hackers mission to bring journalists, designers and developers together to create innovations for news and civic media.