P A R A D I S E
A NEW NOVEL BY
ELWYN ( WYNN )
SIDIQI AL WAFI
PARADISE TELLS THE STORY OF SOME OF THE DEFINING MOMENTS IN THE LIVES
OF THE ANTI-HERO, RADOUAN-JANNAT AL ULD BILLAH, HIS THREE WIVES AND LIFE LONG
BELOVED FRIEND MOHKTAR. RADOUAN'S FAMILY HAS LIVED IN THE MARRAKECH MEDINA
SINCE THE MID-SIXTEENTH CENTURY. THE BOOK OPENS AS HE IS CELEBRATING HIS
THIRTY-SIXTH BIRTHDAY WITH HIS FRIEND A GERMAN BARONESS WHOM HE HAS BEEN
SEEING SINCE HE WAS FIFTEEN. AFTER RADOUAN's DEATH THE FOLLOWING
OBITUARY WILL APPEAR ON THE SITES OF THE MAJOR NEWS SERVICES OF THE WORLD.
Paris, Reuters - October 16, 2048
Today in Paris, the great house on the Isle-St-Louis was draped in red and green,
its lights dimmed in mourning for its mysterious occupant, Radouan-Jannat ibn Ibrahim
ibn Abbas ibn Hassan al Uld Billah, who died here last night at the age of eighty-seven.
A renowned philanthropist, collector and one of the world’s richest men, he is probably
best remembered for his oft quoted remark, ‘Life is God’s Joke.’
Although he had properties around the world and traveled between them, aside
from his immediate family and employees the eccentric recluse, who favored disguises
when he ventured out, had not been seen publicly for over thirty years. Billah’s
foundation As -Sabil,(the Path, the Way) until recently presided over by the late
jurist Prospero Manolo Serfati, was established in the year 2000 and has since
become one of the largest charitable organizations in the world.
A pioneer in strategies to empower the rural poor, it incurred the wrath of the
Moroccan Establishment, was dismissed by International Development Agencies
and bitterly opposed by business and government bureaucracies of the time.
Born in Marrakech, in 1962, into an ancient tribe of mounted Arab fighters, by the time
he was eighteen Billah had become a rising star on the International polo scene and,
over the next decade, notorious for a series of scandalous affairs with members
of the International Set, including the Baroness Mina Von Schleebruck, doyenne
of Marrakech society for forty years, the late British socialite Antonia Howard,
and French film star Delphine Bene. It was during this same period, under
circumstances shrouded in mystery, that he acquired a very large fortune
and gave three quarters of it to the philanthropic organization he founded.
Billah, an outspoken critic of Christian, Moslem and Jewish Fundamentalism, incurred
the wrath of various Ayatollahs, Imams, Muftis, and Rabbis; enraged the Vatican, and
was the subject of a Fatwa issued in Qom which denounced him as a Heretic and
called for his death. During the same period, roughly the first two decades
of this century, he was hounded by the international press which demonized
him variously as a Neo-Marxist, a Socialist, Luddite, Regresso, Terrorist,
Anti-Globalizationist, Radical Environmentalist, Social Terrorist, Womanizer,
Gigolo, Libertine, Playboy, Toy Boy, Male Chauvinist Pig, Dervish, and Sufi.
In his native country, Morocco, however, he came to be worshipped by thousands
as a Holy man of extraordinary power.
Disillusioned by the life his wealth had brought him, however, and stunned by
the ridicule which his charitable foundation first received, by 2010 Billah
had left Morocco and taken up residence in France in the Hotel Particular
on the Isle-St-Louis where he died last night.
By 2012 he had migrated to Argentina where for the next three decades he
spent most of his time on a large property in the Eastern foothills of the
Andes Mountains raising his family and carrying out large environmental projects.
Upon the death there of his first wife in 2038, however, he returned to
Paris and took up residence again on the Isle-St-Louis.
Although increasingly reclusive, he was an astute investor, and amassed a personal fortune
estimated at over two hundred billion pounds. As Chairman of his Foundation, he oversaw
its emergence as one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world with assets
of over a trillion.
He is survived by his second and third wives, Delphine and Hafida, their children
and grand children. Memorial services will be held in Marrakech on October the
Seventeenth. Burial will take place the following afternoon at the village of
R’hamna, a few kilometers west of Marrakech.
PARADISE EXPLORES THE DRAMATIC, SOMETIMES DANGEROUS, INTERACTION OF MODERNISM WITH THE
CULTURE OF MOROCCO. IT IS A TALE OF JEALOUSY< LOVE< HATE AND DECEIT; OF HUMAN FRAILTY, AND
COMPASSION AS ARABS, BERBERS AND SEPHARDIC JEWS INTERACT INTERACT WITH THE FOREIGN RESIDENTS OF THOUSAND
YEAR OLD MARRAKECH -AN UNEXPECTEDLY COMPLICATED CITY WHERE A THIN VENEER OF OCCIDENTAL VALUES
HIDES A FAR DEEPER SUBSTRATUM OF ANCIENT TRADITIONS AND BELIEFS. A PLACE OF CONTRASTS WHERE,
THOUGH TINGED WITH AN EVER PRESENT VEIL OF HYPOCRISY AND CYNICISM ITS RESIDENTS ARE
SURPRISINGLY HOPEFUL AND COSMOPOLITAN AS THEY SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF ALLAH.