Moroccan Independence: November 18, 1956

TALIM 1956 Tangier Phone BookToday Morocco celebrates Independence Day.  "The View From Fez," a fine English-language blog, has some photos from King Mohammed V's return from exile, the date of which determined Morocco's Independence Day.

I know what they say about reading the telephone book, but there is great value in leafing through the 1956 Tangier Anuario Telefonico, reprinted this year by an enterprising Spanish publisher.

Originally published in February 1956, it describes a Tangier that was still the International Zone.

The American Legation, on America Street, whose Chancery had three phone lines: 15904, 15905, and 15906.  There were separate lines for the various military attachés, and the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) had a bunch of numbers.

In an alphabetical listing by street, the Legation's neighbors on America Street who have phones are:

  • Jaime Benchimol
  • Mohamed Zaidi
  • Abdeslam Bennani
  • Rodrigo Marchena
  • Mina Bentz Mohamed Tensamani

Which is an eloquent evocation of the multiculturality, not only of our Beni Idder quarter, but of Tangier itself in 1956.

Other interesting items from pre-independence Tangier, 1956: under "B," there are two pages of banques, bancos, and banks – Tangier was the world's leading tax haven in those days.

There are two columns of Cohens, and almost as many Levys.  RCA was big, but so was Mackay Radio ("part of the American Cable & Radio System") and Pan American Radio (see this Italian source on "Tangeri Internazionale" – though there is a big English excerpt – for trivia on Tangier's role in early pirate Swedish broadcasts!).

Well, much of this started to come to an end after Independence Day 1956.  Tangier's post-International Zone atmosphere continued to be different from the rest of Morocco for years, but gradually the city was integrated into Morocco proper.

Another thing missing in post-independence Morocco: a telephone directory.

Gerald Loftus

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