Arts & Entertainment

Tangier’s legendary café Hafa turns 100

By Mohamed Siali

Tangier, Morocco, Jun 30 (EFE).- Hafa, a legendary café in Morocco’s Tangier, turns 100 this year as it struggles to preserve its identity  as a hive of counterculture in which popular figures such as the Rolling Stones, Juan Goytisolo and Paul Bowles were fixtures.

The café overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar is one of the North African country’s main tourist attractions and a favorite spot for capturing photos.

Known for its simplicity, Hafa is neither luxurious nor glamorous, with its whitewashed and indigo-stained walls, and uneven furniture that includes tiled tables and clay pots of different sizes and colors.

It was founded in 1921 by Mohamed Alouch, a young Tangier native who at only 20 years old managed to open this leisure space for the residents of Marshan neighborhood, the center of the city.

The café soon attracted foreigners who settled in Tangier in the mid-20th century. Later, the place was frequented by artists, who are the reason why it is now world-famous, according to writer Rachid Tafersiti.

Spanish writer Juan Goytisolo spent many summers in Tangier and recorded a television program at Hafa in the late 1970s.

The café was mentioned several times in Goytisolo’s novel Count Julian, according to Tafersiti.

Among the well-known visitors of the café were the Rolling Stones, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, US author Paul Bowles and Chilean painter Claudio Bravo. Others like France’s former minister of culture Jack Lang have ended up buying a house near the café.

Khalid Amin, a Tangier-born professor of English language and literature at the University of Tetouan, says when he was a student he would go to the café just to see important figures of Moroccan and world literature in person.

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