In the High Atlas of Morocco, in the town of Taroudant, there is a practise known as Chikhate – singing groups consisting of women who travel from region to region performing chants at important social events and festivities. The chants of the Chikate are renowned for their beautiful harmonies, which are acompanied by a variety of instruments and perfomed to choreographed dances.
Gradually, however, modern music and DJ shows have taken the place of Chikhate performances at weddings or social celebrations. To help safeguard their heritage, the remaining groups of performers have decided to revitalize the practise. In collaboration with the Moroccan Association Bhayer Dalya and with the support of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund, Chikate groups are working to raise awareness among younger generations of their tradition and are preparing an inventory of their chants and verses.
Over the last three years, Bhayer Dalya has interviewed the women of Taroudant, who still practice these chants and is training young women to inventory and safeguard their living heritage. This participatory process works to strengthen the creation of federations of Chikate groups. In addition, the association has produced a documentary video explaining the history of the chants of the women of the High Atlas of Morocco in their own words.