Cultural heritage, cultural heritage photography, Illigh, Sous-Massa, Tazerwalt, Trans-Saharan trade, slaves, Isemgene, Arti et Amicitiae

For the last three years I have been involved as a cultural heritage photographer in a project about the historic Kasbah of Illigh. Located on the edge of the Moroccan Sahara, this power centre originated in the 17th century and was ruled by the Aboudmiaas, a distinguished local family. They also controlled the Trans-Saharan trade that traveled from Timbuktu through Illigh and the port of Agadir before reaching its destination in Europe.

Human cargo

Through the gates of Illigh came not only gold, ostrich feathers and gum but also a human cargo: slaves. Some of their descendants – now known as the Isemgene – have remained in the village that surrounds the Kasbah, where the Aboudmiaa family also still resides. The above photo is of Sa’adia bint Mbrak. She is a close friend of  mater familias Lalla Fatima Aboudmiaa. Sa’adia’s father, Mbrak, taught Lalla Fatima’s children to read the Qu’ran.

My job here was to record the Kasbah’s extraordinary architecture along with the surrounding landscape and, of course, its inhabitants.


Corona permitting, from May 29 to June 27 2021 these photos will be featured in the New Members Exhibition at Arti et Amicitiae, a Dutch art society and a hub for artists and art lovers in Amsterdam.


My photo book ‘The Old Kasbah of Illigh’ is also in the process of preparation and will be published by the Maison de Photographie à Marrakech (Morocco). Needless to say I feel very honoured.

For further information both about my book and Arti: