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(BBC Africa)


Berber woman leads rifle team on horseback, beats men at own game

By WITW Staff on June 1, 2016

Amal Ahmari, a Berber woman from Morocco, is bucking centuries of Berber tradition by taking part in the ancient sport of Fantasia, a unique group competition that combines horsemanship and riflery. “I never saw girls do it. It’s a challenge,” says Ahmari. “I like a challenge,” she admits, grinning.

Ahmari, dressed in traditional orange robes, leads a team of women, dressed in green, that she has assembled personally. Fantasia, traditionally performed during cultural festivals and at the end of Berber wedding celebrations, is a competition in which teams of horsemen fire their rifles into the sky simultaneously while at a full gallop. Teams are judged by their coordination and synchronicity. The use of live gunpowder means any error made by a rider is potentially life-threatening.

Before they ride, the women pray and kiss each other on the cheeks. “You don’t know,” says Ahmari. “Maybe it’s your last day.” A mother puts soil in the rider’s boots for good luck. But luck, it seems, is not necessary. Ahmari’s team fires their rifles into the air twice with perfect timing, their horses galloping practically neck to neck. Later, it’s announced that Ahmari’s team has won the competition, beating the men at their own game.

Despite Ahmari’s success, women remain banned from competing at Fantasia on the national level.

Watch the video at The BBC.


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