Dardasha was an oral history project which documented the migratory experiences of the first generation of Moroccan women who came to Britain between 1960 and 1990 and settled in the Portobello area of London.

The experience of Moroccan women migrants to Britain has until now been largely hidden from view. Academic research on Moroccan migration has predominantly looked at the experiences of male migrants. The emotional realities of migration for women, the trajectory of their journeys and details of their daily lives, have thus often been misunderstood and misrepresented.

A large number of the Moroccans who first migrated to Britain were in fact women. Most of them came from northern parts of Morocco. Some arrived with work permits for factory and hospital work, some came to join husbands already working here and found work themselves in the hotel and catering industries, some came in the hope of finding work when they arrived.

All of these women came here in the hope of earning a decent living for their families. They arrived knowing nothing of what awaited them. Many suffered and endured hardship, as they worked hard to make a new life for themselves and their families.

Dardasha has for the first time enabled these brave women to tell their personal and moving stories in their own words.


On 10 October 2013, Al Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre presented Dardasha at the Nour Festival 2013, a Cultural Evening at Leighton House.

At the festival Dardasha brought the story up to the present day, to include the British born and raised daughters and grand-daughters of these pioneering women.

This evening showcased a new photographic exhibition, the screening of the documentary film Dardasha (chi’t-chat) – a 30 minute film in which four women recount their experiences of migration – and the accompanying book of edited bilingual testimonies. Live music was provided by Moroccan Oud player Soufian Saihi.

Souad Talsi MBE, Founder of the Al Hasaniya Moroccan Women’s Centre, and Rachid Agassim, Consul General for Morocco in the UK, hosted a discussion with the audience on issues raised by the film.

After the event

Nour exhibition
An exhibition of canvases was created for the Nour Festival, displaying photographic collages showing the women before and shortly after their migration and as they are today, some with their daughters and grand-daughters.

Photos and images: Alan Stepney

Each of these thumbnails links to a larger image:

Fatima 1981 Fatima 1971 Fatima 1981 Tamou 1968
Fatima – 1981 Fatima – 1971 Fatima – 1981 Tamou – 1968
5-Khadija1981-s 6-Fatna1972-s 7-Aicha1969-s 8-Fatima1970-s
Khadija – 1981 Fatna – 1972 Aicha – 1969 Fatima – 1970

DARDASHA (chi’t-chat) FILM
Four stories of migration to the UK by Moroccan women.
Directed and edited by Alan Stepney.


pdf Dardasha book
Illustrated book of edited testimonies in English and Moroccan Arabic dialect. Edited by Samantha Herron.
June 2011 (780KB)

Slideshow from the exhibition of photographs and documents.

Dardasha was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Kensington Housing Trust, the Ministry for the Moroccan Community Resident Abroad (MCMRE) and the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME).
The project ran from January 2010 until June 2011, when it was launched with an Open Day at the Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall. It has subsequently been archived at the Kensington and Chelsea Library and will also be archived with the Council for the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) in Morocco. Dardasha also been archived with the British Library. It was due to tour throughout Morocco and Europe during 2012.

pdf Project report for the Heritage Lottery Fund
Samantha Herron, Dardasha Project Leader, June 2011 (480KB)

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the women who shared their stories in Dardasha. Without their honesty, courage and generosity, these stories would never have been heard.

Thank you to Alan Stepney for the Dardasha photographs and to epitype for the design of the book.