Khamlia Village is distinguished by its residents, who reflect a strong history of ritual spirituality like music, dancing and healing. The village is famous for genres of Moroccan music from the traditional chaabi played in wedding to the moders electronica. To link between the village and tourists, a road was built in 2004 through the village.
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Location of Khamlia
Khamlia village is located at the eastern edge of Morocco’s Sahara Desert, among the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi. It lies 7 km south of Merzouga.
What to do in Khamlia?
Your visit to Khamlia will give you the chance to experience the Gnawa musical tradition. You will indulge in intimate settings, from an internationally-celebrated musical group called the Sand Pigeons.
Gnawa People of Khamlia
The people of Gnawa lived as nomads before they settled in Khamlia last century. Nowadays, 390 Gnawa live in the village.
The Gnawa tribe originated from sub-Saharan countries such as Sudan, Mali and Niger. For centuries, they moved from their land as a result of the worldwide slave trade. They found mindfulness in chanting and clanking.
History of Khamlia Gnawa Festival
There are 3 groups who perform music in Khamlia once a year. They perform at each of the village houses to collect donations. They also collect money to help fund their own Khamlia Gnawa Festival every summer.
In 2011, an Imam attempted to divide the people of the village into 2 groups, followers of Gnawa and followers of Islam. Then, he stated that their music was prohibited under Sharia Law. As a result, some people remained supporters of the music, while some did not. This caused confusion in the village, as it was no longer clear which houses would approve these performances and which would not.
Nowadays, a charity is created to provide a space for the pre-festival fun-raising. The annual desert festival of Gnawa, known as Sadaka is held every summer. Gnawa music is played non-stop for three days and nights. Hundreds of people attend the festival, including Gnawa from all corners of the kingdom.