The Draa-Tafilalet region has a unique and special place in Moroccan history rich in events and iconic figures. Historically, southern Morocco has been a hotbed for men who have established empires such as the Almoravids, Almohads, Saadians, and Alawites. These important areas of Moroccan and Mediterranean Maghrebi history, particularly those of the Saadienne and Alaouite dynasties, are worth discovering with our children and grandchildren.
The Draa Valley contributed to the establishment of the Moroccan state with the arrival of the Saadian Dynasty, whose cradle is in Tagmaddert, in the oasis of Fezwata, along the middle Draa, south-east of Zagora. This occurrence coincided with the Iberian Portuguese and Spanish powers’ conquest of the Moroccan coast, beginning of the 15th century as part of their colonial expansion. Thus, faced with the Wattassid Dynasty’s inability to overthrow the Portuguese, particularly in Agadir, the sheikhs of Jazoulite religious brotherhoods and the heads of Souss lineages has turned to the Sharif Saadien Mohamed Ben Abderrahman Al-Qaim Bi Amrillah, who was installed in Tagmaddert, to lead the jihad (holy war) against the occupiers. Following the allegiance made to the Saadian chief in Tidssi in 1510, this act marks the birth of the Saadian Dynasty, and was favored by the Sheikh of the Zaouia of Aqqa, in the Bani, Mohamed Ben Mbarelk Al-Aqqaoui, who declines the offer of being the Prince of Jihad (the holy war) and direct the dignitaries of Souss toward the Chorfa Saadiens, settled in Tagmaddert, since their arrival from the East in the XIIth century.
The Battle of Bougafer: March 25, 1933
Following the ratification of the Protectorate Treaty in March 1912, Jbel Saghro, a stronghold of the Ait Atta tribe, witnessed one of the bloodiest and most heroic battles against French colonial occupation in the 1930s. It is the Battle of Bougafer that took place on March 25, 1933.
The strong nomadic Ait Atta tribe, rooted in Jbel Bougafer, bravely fought French attacks and refused any offer of surrender. Following a severe blockade, the French army started aerial bombardments, supported by infantry forces. That is why, after 42 days of intense resistance, the fighters eventually agreed to negotiate.
In the presence of Generals Catroux, Hurè, and Girand, the two resistance commanders Bassou and Assou Ou Baslam ended up at the Zaouia Khouya Brahim. The legendary commander of Bournazel will pass away in this battle, which has lasted for more than a month, from February 13th to March 25th, 1933. The battle of Bougafer led to the death of 1,300 Ait Atta resistance fighters and 3,500 French soldiers.
The battle of Jbel Baddou: August 26th, 1933
Another battle took place north of Jbel Bougafer. it is the battle of Mt. Baddou that ended on August 26th, 1933, against the French occupation. The colonial army assembled against the warriors Ait Hdidou and Ait Morghad four massively armed mobile groups, those of Meknes, Tadla, Marrakech, and the borders, backed up by the air force and led by no more than four generals, Catroux, Giraud, Huré, and Juin. At the end of this bloody battle, the resistance leader, Zaid ou Skounti, went to the mobile group on the border in the presence of General Giraud. After all, the Moroccan “pacification” operation, conducted by the French army against the resistance, did not end in the south of the country until March 1934, with the surrender of the Ait Khabbache in Oued Draa, south of Aqqa, and Abdallah Zakour, leader of the resistance in the Western Anti-Atlas, following the battle of Ait Abdallah.
Penalties for nationalists imprisoned
In the south of the Atlas, prisons of Tinejdat, Alnif, Boudnib, Rich, and Aghbalou N’kerdous were all established by the Protectorate authorities to detain nationalists as part of the war against the National Movement and to crack down on any type of demand for independence and return from exile of Sultan Sidi Mohamed Ben Youssef. Located west of Errachidia, the prison of Aghbalou N’kerdous hosted in 1953 a large group of Independence activists including Mokhtar Soussi, Mehdi Ben Barka, Abdelaziz Ben Driss, Mohamed Brahim El Kettani, Driss Al Mhamdi, Abdelkrim Ben Jelloun, Ahmed Ben Kassem Al Figuigui, Faddoul Sayarh, Sidi Bamouh Chikhi, Mimoun Tigzarti, Moulay Abdellah Al Midelti, Moulay Hachem Al Izaroui, Moulay Ahmed Al Mrirti…