Music from Saharan cellphones is a compilation of music collected from memory cards of cellular phones in the Saharan desert.
In much of West Africa, cellphones are are used as all purpose multimedia devices. In lieu of personal computers and high speed internet, the knockoff cellphones house portable music collections, playback songs on tinny built in speakers, and swap files in a very literal peer to peer Bluetooth wireless transfer.
The songs chosen for the compilation were some of the highlights – music that is immensely popular on the unofficial mp3/cellphone network from Abidjan to Bamako to Algiers, but have limited or no commercial release. They’re also songs that tend towards this new world of self production – Fruity Loops, home studios, synthesizers, and Autotune.
‘For Independence and Peace - FPolisario [Frente Polisario]’, Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America, Havana, Cuba, 1979. The Polisario are the main national liberation organization fighting for Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco.
Des experts américains ont mis en garde contre la situation explosive qu'encourt la région saharo-sahélienne où la collusion entre trafiquants de drogue et éléments du Polisario est devenue une véritable menace…lire la suite sur http://bit.ly/qQqmWd
Portraying the Saharawis, The last thing you lose is hope.
The homeland of the Saharawi people is the Western Sahara, the north-western region of Africa on Moroccos northern borders. Yet for more than 35 years the Saharawis have been living on Algerian land.
The Western Sahara was a Spanish colony. In 1973 some Sahwarawi formed the Polisario Front to oust the Spanish. The Saharawis gained political strength and a UN mission showed support for their independence. However, the withdrawal of Spain led to an invasion by neighbouring countries Morocco and Mauritania, and Saharawis began to emigrate from their own land to Algeria.
In 1976 the Polisario Front declared a Republic and started a guerrilla war between Mauritania and Morocco. Having won the war against Mauritania, the Moroccan forces still kept control of the major cities, and by the mid-1980s, a sand wall had been built dividing up the land.
The existence of a peace process has led to a cease-fire between the Polisario Front and Morocco but the country remains divided. Morocco controls the coastal west side, an area rich in resources. The liberated portion of the country is inland, economically useless and heavily land-mined.
This body of work portrays a people who have not given up hope. Their aim is to get back to their land. Their perpetual refugee status denies them the land, freedom or society to continue developing their culture, even to feed themselves properly. The effects landmines can have on human beings is just one of the more visible devastations resulting from this conflict. Yet in the face of such mutilation and with everyday hardship a fact of life they remain committed. But where does this situation lead? And what does it mean for future generations of Saharawis?
This week in the small Western Saharan town of Tifariti, delegations are arriving for the 13th Conference of the Polisario Front, the United Nations-recognized group that has fought since the 1970s for Western Sahara’s independence from Morocco. The gathering, to be held Dec. 15-20, is expected to draw some 1,500 people from the region, as well as from Asia, Europe and Latin America. It will broach a topic that has otherwise gone largely overlooked in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings that have swept the Middle East and North Africa in the name of greater representation and government accountability: Western Sahara’s sovereignty and autonomous status.
In October 2010 – two months before 26-year-old street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself aflame in Tunisia – as many as 15,000 Sahrawis, indigenous to the Western Sahara, set up the Gdeim Izik camp outside Laayoune, one of the largest cities in the disputed territory south of the Moroccan border. The Sahrawis were protesting poor living conditions, poverty and human rights abuses at the hand of the Moroccan government, which annexed Western Sahara in 1975 after Spain relinquished administrative control of its former colony.
The peaceful demonstration, which turned deadly when Moroccan forces raided and dismantled the camp a month later, was described as the largest protest against Moroccan rule in the history of the Western Sahara dispute.
It should also be noted that while Morocco controls and governs the city of Laâyoune, there is no international recognition of Morocco’s authority there and it falls outside of Morocco’s internationally recognized borders. Nonetheless, when I traveled to Laâyoune several years ago, there was really nothing at all to indicate that I was passing beyond Morocco’s official borders and into the disputed territory of the Western Sahara. Indeed, for many travelers (usually French and Belgian based on my own experiences) it’s a simple (but long!) bus ride bringing them to the town that serves as a sort of waystation for people continuing further south, often to Mauritania.
Of course, it’s a waystation brimming with UN forces, camps, and human rights abuses. But nobody likes to talk about that.