Mourad grew up by the sea. When he sees the waves building to a crest, before breaking with a roar moments later and ebbing away on the wide expanse of beach, that’s when he feels truly alive. The young Moroccan has spent countless nights on the beach in Casablanca, waiting to catch the early-morning surf. His surfboard, the surf and the sea were his life. Nothing can compare with his love of surfing – except his passion for music. As a young boy, Mourad would watch, fascinated, as his father, a musician, worked his magic on the crowds. Today, years later, Mourad stands in the square in front of the gigantic Hassan II Mosque – the second largest in the world, with space for 25,000 pilgrims – and unpacks his guitar. He starts to sing. And people pause and are lost in the music. Mourad has inherited his father’s gift.
Mourad writes his lyrics in English. His songs are about the sun and the surf, love and life. And now they are about a new beginning: “Let’s start from zero” – that’s the song he wrote for Catty, soon after they met.
Catty’s real name is Kathrin. She is 32 and lives in Germany with her two daughters. It all started quite casually in an ICQ (“I seek you”) chat room. Mourad was interested in German, and was thinking about writing lyrics in German one day. Catty also plays guitar and sings. They soon found that they had more in common than just their love of music. Two months later, Catty came to Morocco. She has visited him eight times now, twice with her daughters. For Mourad, she got a divorce and converted to Islam. They got married in 2011.
Mourad had simply wanted to learn a new language for his song-writing, but suddenly, his future with Catty depended on whether and how quickly he learned German. He didn’t have the money to pay for a course at the Goethe-Institut; he was unemployed and faced with financial problems, he even sold his surfboard. His wife and parents couldn’t afford to support him, so he tried to prepare for the exam on his own. Catty helped him as much as she could, but he still failed.
“I was too nervous and couldn’t concentrate”, says Mourad. For the young couple, the missed opportunity meant living apart for another three months. Without Catty, Mourad felt very lonely, but he was undeterred: “If you want to emigrate, you have to learn the local language, wherever you go. It’s the right thing to do.” He finally managed to get a grant to take the German course and re-sat the exam – and passed! Mourad is overjoyed, and has already applied for a visa.
He will miss Morocco, of course, especially the sea. He has never been to Germany. He hopes that his passion for sport and music will help him to get to know people and find his niche.
To start with, he plans to get a job in the factory where his wife works. Later, he would like to find work as a window-maker – the job he trained for. Most of all, he would like to have a child with Catty and be with her “until the end of our days”.