La Prisonniere

by Oufkir, Malika

Malika Oufkir has been a prisoner for most of her life. Born in 1953, the eldest daughter of the King of Morocco’s closest aide, Malika was adopted by the king to be a companion to his little daughter. She grew up at the royal court of Rabat, locked away in a golden cage, among the royal wives and concubines. But in 1972, her father was arrested and executed after an attempt to assassinate the king. Nineteen-year-old Malika, her mother and her five younger brothers and sisters were thrown into an isolated desert gaol. Innocent of any crime, they were locked away in increasingly barbaric conditions for fifteen endless years. Like a modern Scheherazade, Malika kept up their spirits by telling them stories every night. Finally, the Oufkir children managed to dig a tunnel with their bare hands and made a daring escape. Recaptured after five days, the ensuing public hue and cry resulted in house arrest rather than a return to prison. But it was only in 1996 that Malika was finally permitted to leave Morocco to begin a new life in France.