Impact Journalism Day 2016 |

Offshoot of Arab Spring Looks Out for Morocco's Future Leaders

Stéphanie Jacob
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Created in August 2011 during the arab spring by a group of young apolitical Morrocans, TIZI is a civic initiative aiming at strengthening the political landscape through diversity.
Created in August 2011 during the arab spring by a group of young apolitical Morrocans, TIZI is a civic initiative aiming at strengthening the political landscape through diversity.Credit: TIZI
Stéphanie Jacob

The nonpartisan, independent initiative TIZI was created in August 2011 by a group of young Moroccans looking to diversify the political landscape. Since then, the group has strived to increase the number of participating young voters and, equally, looked to engage and inspire the potential future political leaders of tomorrow.

In our modern technological climate, promoting a message or achieving a social goal becomes almost impossible without the use of social media. For instance, what would the world look like today if the Arab Spring had occurred without the internet acting as an expansive social platform?

These new channels of communication are able to achieve much more than many previously dreamt of, making the voice of social mobilization so loud it can even be heard in the highest echelons of power.

The “street” – the previous meeting place for mobilization and protest – has been replaced by the internet. And it seems like the young members of TIZI (which stands for Tariq Ibnou Ziyad Initiative) have fully engaged with these changes.

Back in August 2011, in the midst of the Arab Spring, a group of young Moroccans created TIZI as a platform from which they could both nurture and launch the political careers of young potential leaders.

Positive approach

Far from becoming a protest movement, they decided to adopt a positive and engaging approach, encouraging young voters to partake in elections and, by so doing, forming the leaders of tomorrow. And, of course, re-politicizing the young and inciting them to take up their ballot papers would have been impossible without social media.

As the elected president of TIZI, Zakaria Garti is living proof that this initiative holds democracy at its core. “We don’t harbor structures of elitism in this initiative,” he says. “I have been with TIZI since the beginning and yet, even though I am not a cofounder of the project, I was entrusted with the presidency in recognition of my work and commitment.

“TIZI is a simply a growing concept, without any entry requirements,” he adds. “The founding members are not interested in becoming a brand, but instead want to be a means of creating the leaders of tomorrow.”

While the Moroccan cultural scene abounds with leaders in economics, the arts and the charity sector, leaders are in short supply when it comes to politics.

Political diversity has, therefore, become the name of the game for this particular project. Since its inception five years ago, TIZI has responded to the challenge by organizing around 15 conferences each year, inviting various political figures from both sides of the fence – and even extending the invitation to include the likes of Abdelilah Benkirane, the current head of the Moroccan government.

If the political heavyweights didn’t exactly welcome TIZI’s efforts when it first started, they have certainly adapted to it now.

Leadership traits

To support its social engagement projects, TIZI has produced a number of well-received online videos, granting the younger generation access to the frequently confusing and obscure world of politics. It has also tried to engage both school and university students in the benefits of political participation by organizing on-campus talks and events.

This all derives from the group’s strong belief that the traits and values of leadership are acquired very young.

“Being a good leader is not an innate skill, it’s something that we learn,” says Zakaria. TIZI is looking to recognize then nurture these abilities in young potential leaders.

And TIZI is offering more than just words of encouragement to these bright young potential leaders. At a recent leadership event, a couple of selected individuals were offered financial aid to help them study at Harvard Kennedy School. And two bright young students were even decorated by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, providing them with a strong starting point from which to build a promising future.

With two regional branches already open, the growing demand for this engaging approach to the future of Moroccan politics is an undeniable call for change. As attitudes change throughout the North African state, hopes can transform into tangible realities overnight.

“The Moroccan youth is on the move, and no one can stop it,” says Zakaria. “And those who want to stop it have learnt nothing from history.” This youth mobilization forms the core motivation behind TIZI, becoming both its driving force and ultimate, nonnegotiable goal.

This article first appeared in The Economist.

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