Filmed, Directed and Edited by Scanarama’s Donal Scannell Aziza Brahim – La Tierra Derrama Lagrimas
- Taken from the new album ‘Mabruk’ available in June 2012
- Released on Reaktion Records www.re-aktion.com
Western Sahara has been split in two. Aziza Brahim left one zone when still in her mothers womb to escape to the other. One Western Sahara, also known as the occupied zone, is administered by Morocco after they invaded it in 1976. The other Western Sahara is the liberated zone or Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic governed by an unelected interim revolutionary government also known as the Polisario Front or Polisario.
The two Western Saharas are separated by a giant sand wall or ‘berm’ and minefields. Both have settlements with the same names: El Aaiún, Dakhla and Smara. In the Occupied Zone the towns have paved roads, running water and electricity and are populated by Sahrawis and Moroccan settlers.
On the Polisario side of the berm most people live in refugee camps near Tinduof in Algeria. They have none of the facilities which most people take for granted like water and electricity.
At first glance the camps look normal enough, the people seem happy and they live their lives. After a while though you realize the camps are just like vast open prisons. People can’t leave without permission, there’s nothing for them to do and they depend upon food aid handouts for survival.
The Sahrawi lifestyle was previously nomadic and they would move between the coast and the desert. Now they are stuck in the desert. They are almost nationless, the only way to travel internationally is on Algerian passports and they can’t go back to the occupied zone without applying to be taken on UN organized exchanges.
It’s like Palestine meets the old East Germany but with little media attention.
Aziza’s song ‘La Tierra Derrama Lagrimas’ translates as ‘The Earth Sheds Tears’ and the lyrics remember those who fought to liberate those parts of the Western Sahara which remain outside of Moroccan control.
As a pacifist those sentiments caused me to pause. We all know that yesterdays freedom fighters are today’s politicians but it still took time for me to navigate an approach for the video.
I started trawling Youtube and found a wide range of material which was the missing link. Archive footage of the Green March, the SADR flag being raised for the first time and very disturbing footage of how protestors are being treated in the occupied zone right now. Watching these people being beaten made me aware of how cosy my existence is and helped galvanize me to do whatever I could to bring attention to these people’s plight.
The resulting music video contrasts Aziza and family’s seemingly idyllic life of smiling faces with the violence being doled out on the other side of the berm.
Until witnessing something as essential as the daily grind of fetching water underlines that life in the camps is no picnic at all.
The Sahrawi people are waiting for a UN sanctioned referendum on their future.
Morocco has been dragging its heels for decades whilst more and more Moroccans move into the Western Sahara. People on both sides of the berm live in massive prison like conditions and time keeps dragging on. Something needs to be done soon but the rumors of oil or gas offshore won’t help speed up Morocco’s departure.
Aziza and thousands like her live their lives in the shadow of a situation which wasn’t their doing. An amazing singer and lyricist such as she is can’t ignore the plight of her people and is driven to bring as much attention as possible to their cause. Her heightening profile will help but it’s a long road ahead.
Material for this video was shot in Spain and the Sahrawi refugee camps by Scanarama helped in part by seed funding from the Simon Cumbers Media Fund http://www.simoncumbersmediafund.ie
The news and archive clips were taken from a wide variety of Youtube sources credited below. Thanks to all of them and a huge salute to all of the brave people in the occupied zone standing up for their freedom regardless of the price. I feel humbled by their efforts.
Donal Scannell, Director, Scanarama, April 2012l
Youtube source clips for archive material used in the video:
Inside Story – Western Sahara – 02 May 07 – Part 1
Concentration in Mhamid Elghazlan 40 anniversary Zemla uprising
Smara occupeé 01-10-2011
Baba Med Lbou, testimony of children tortured by moroccan police
Moroccan police attacking Saharawis in Al-aaiun
Riots Dakhla 26022011
Occupied city of Smara 21-09-2011
Najla Dafli, testimony of children tortured by moroccan police
27 -feb -1976 Bir Lehlu – RASD
إعلان الجمهورية العربية الصحراوية الديمقراطية سنة 1976
Agresssion in Maatallah
Inside Story – Tensions in Western Sahara
Sahara Libre حامد ربي ماني شكام
Exodo Aaiun 19_10_10
Morocco and the Polisario Front – 14 Dec 2007
تغطية التلفزيون الاسباني لمجزرة 8 يونيو
الإعتداأت المغربية على الشعب الصحراوي