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40 Years of Solitude: Post War Displacement of Vietnamese-Moroccan

Wow! This story blows me away. It's an extraordinarily sad story being told in this documentary film programed by The Al Jazeera Network as a part of their "World Documentary Series". It's about the struggle of the families of Moroccan soldiers who have fought on the French's side during the First Indochina War. After the Moroccan soldiers have realized the French screwed their King back home, they defected to the Viet Minh side where they were treated better. If I was them I would do the same. Fuck the French military! So the said soldiers married Vietnamese women and have children. Some of them returned to Morocco with their Vietnamese wives and some stayed in Vietnam to etch out a living. This is where it gets interesting. The documentary tells two stories. One takes place in Vietnam and the other in Morocco.

First story is about the Vietnamese wives of the Moroccan soldiers who have returned to Morocco. I gotta tell you these women are incredibly brave and strong to live in a country with a completely different culture. During one scene, a Vietnamese woman interacts with a group of young Moroccans she hired to tend her farm slightly hints at her subtle feeling of being outcast. But she holds her head high and is very proud. She works on the farm after her husband died, learns Arabic, and deals with hardship, displacement, and looks after her child who has special needs. They call her Fatima and it reminds me of the great beauty from the book The Alchemist.

The 2nd part is about the families who are living in Vietnam. After their Moroccan father died, the mothers can't to prove the children's Moroccan heritage so they are unable to return to their father's country. Why would they want to live in Morocco where they'll face the same hardship? I mean they've stayed in Vietnam for all their lives and Morocco is not any better economically than Vietnam. If I were them I would stay in Vietnam. It's sad to note that even though both families have all the social problems normally experienced by displaced war victims. They also have children who are disadvantaged which adds to their hardships. One of the families in Vietnam has a son that is handicapped because of a motorcycle accident. It's particularly heartbreaking when the son expresses his frustration at being mix-raced and handicapped.

The music in the documentary is wrong. Couldn't they use authentic Vietnamese music instead of generic Chinese soundtrack. Furthermore, I wish that the film had gone deeper into the motives of these people. I'd like to know more about why did the Vietnamese women leave Vietnam and go to Morocco. On the other hand, why did some of the Moroccan soldiers stay in Vietnam with their families and not return home? Despite these questions, I feel the film is well organized. It's made by Sana El El Younoussi, who is both a journalist and a filmmaker so she takes a very straight forward approach using a typical narrator to tell the story and some talking head interviews to get more personal information on the subjects. Overall, even though the filmmaking is conventional, the story is tragically unique.

To watch the full film.

1) Go to this website.

2) Copy and paste this web address into the space and hit SURF.

For further investigation, watch these clips from Apocalypse Now. During a scene in the movie, the French try to rationalize their twisted logic in hanging onto their colonized land.



1 thought on “40 Years of Solitude: Post War Displacement of Vietnamese-Moroccan

  1. Nic Han

    I also thought it quite strange that the families who live in Vietnam want to to go to live in Morocco, a place where they have never lived before! They don't even know the language apart from a few words. I think perhaps they think they will get more financial help with their their son's health problems in Morocco but they are probably wrong.


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