Is our silence as golden as they say? Are we silent though we do not talk loudly in public? And what do we say when we are alone with our friends, relatives and in the absence of authority and its symbols? Is what we say in our heads and hearts what we say in front of others? And why are intellectuals, who normally should take the lead, silent and indifferent when it comes to the issue of the Sahara?
On my way from Laayoune to Smara, watching the wide unlimited desert ; imagining all the battles that took place there and all the soldiers who died with or without tombs so as to free this part of Morocco from the military presence of the enemies, many questions started to invade my head while the driver was focusing on the road listening to the radio.
I was thinking about the people who died so that we could enjoy peace, and I thought about the brothers who died defending a false dream and about the brothers who spent years in jails as prisoners of war. I thought about women who lost their young husbands, the children who became orphans, and parents who did not have the opportunity to attend marriages of their young children who died defending our map and our nation.
I let the process of thinking and imagining take me as feather of a bird that died in the middle of nowhere far from its nest and its beloved ones. I thought about the tribes that used to dwell these deserts with their herds of sheep, goats and camels. Suddenly, troops of the enemies attacked them and led them to the camps of Tindouf, the way the shepherds lead their herds to the unknown. They found themselves jailed in the south of Algeria, exploited as scapegoats of a political game they never chose.
I imagined old parents whose children were stolen and taken by the Polisario since 1976, parents who died waiting for the day where they could hold their offspring, hug them and kiss them. I will never forget what an ex-member of the UN, who served in Smara, told me some years ago crying.
She told me that she went to visit a family in the Sahara where she met their mother. The old mother and grandmother, who had not seen her two sons for some 30 years, cried and took her breast begging the lady telling her: “please, I want to see my babies who used to suck these breasts before I die.”
All of these pictures and mental images made me think of a day when the borders will be opened, families will be together again and the day when the water will come back to the river of unity. The day when these tragedies and sad stories stop, is the day when the voice of love, fraternity, forgiveness, peace and reconciliation will be heard. This day is coming, and it is for this day that we should all work.
Thus, we should all break our silence, and work for peace, stability and unity. The Sahara should be a womb and a source of life, not a tomb that frees the Cobra of death that bleeds the veins of Moroccan people’s hearts. The history of this conflict started from this desert and a new history will start from here again.
Morocco has intellectuals, writers, poets, and human rights activists who are spread all over the globe. We might feel that we are weak and powerless, but we are not. My mother told me, “if ants united and gathered on a cobra, they will kill her”. When I asked her what she meant, she laughed and said, “well, if all the people put hands in hands, they will change the world and they will win the battle against evil and corruption.’’
We should begin to work together to save our children and future generations from dying. We should not educate them and raise them to die. They deserve a better, peaceful future. This is why we should understand that if we do not kill this cobra, it will kill us and it will hurt the future generations as well. Peace is not just a possibility, peace is a must and a certainty. Let’s not be fools, the solution is here, let’s not dig the tombs inside the wombs.
By Rachid Khoya