Sunday, August 5, 2007

The tea struggle

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One of the greatest features of the Saharawi culture is that of Tea ceremony. It is special and unique to the Saharawi people. It is a time of unity and celebration of happiness. Family members, neighbors, relatives or simply people passing by gather around to chat about everything and nothing and at the same time enjoy a cup of the special tea. The Atay or tea in Hassania the Saharawi native Arabic dialect is three cups and each one represents a different thing. The first cup is bitter as life, the second is sweet as love and the third is soft as love. The tea ceremony can take few minutes to make or can last as long as hours.
The Atay is the perfect parallel to the Saharawi struggle for freedom and independence. This struggle is three stages and during each period, the Saharawi people drunk from one of Atay’s three cups. Even though the Saharawi struggle has gone through these stages in different order from that of the Atay, still a great comparison can be drown between the two. The bitter stage began with the Spanish colonization, which last more than a century. When the Saharawis got independence from Spain, however, their celebrations of freedom did not last longer than a couple of months before the double invasion by Morocco and Mauritania. The latter withdrew couple of years later and Morocco took over the whole territory until now. During the bloody war with Morocco, which last for years; mothers lost their sons, orphans lost their parents and families separated from their loved one. During this period, the Saharawi people drunk from the bitter cup. Then the Saharawi struggle entered its soft stage, which is not so soft but a lot like death. This period is the time of waiting in one of the most unbearable corners of the planet. Softly and quietly, the Saharawis wait for the international community to act upon their case. For more than three decades, the Saharawi refugees in south west of Algeria have been dependent on the outside world. Food, water, clothes and health care are basic necessities that we [Saharawis] have no control over. This stage of our struggle is -as we say in Hassania- the slow death. This were the first two stages of the struggle, however, the question is when will the Saharawis enjoy that last sweet cup of freedom and independence?
As the Atay may take few minutes or as long as hours to finish and enjoy the last cup, and so it could have taken the Saharawi struggle to be rewarded with justice and freedom. The Western Sahara-Morocco conflict could have taken few years, if not months to be resolved. Instead, it took decades to even think of a solution. Either ways, the Saharawi struggle will enter its third stage sooner than later. Personally speaking, it is everyone’s responsibly in the world to help the Saharawi people to finish their last cup of struggle. It is a process that takes the Saharawis, the neighbors, the strangers and the international community to achieve. As it is said in Arabic: “there is an end to everything”, and so it is the time for the Saharawi people to get their share of justice and freedom. So let’s not give to enjoy the last cup of this struggle and the reward of freedom.

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