The Best Educated Population in West Africa in the Garden of Hell
by S. Kjær
In the desserts of West Africa lie Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania. In between, in the Western Sahara, is a population called Saharawi who once lived in a Spanish colony. These people were the center of the last African colony quarrel. When the Spanish General Franco died in 1975 and the Spaniards chose to leave the Western Sahara it was agreed by the Moroccan government and the Mauritanian government that they would split this former colonial territory.
The immediate problem was that nobody wanted to take responsibility for the population left behind. The Moroccan solution to ‘the problem’ was to bomb the Saharawis. This rather cynical action resulted in a three-day bombing and the making of around 150.000 refugees. After somewhat 37 years the Saharawi refugees still lives in camps in Algeria. The UN has failed to stand up for the Saharawi cause and the Moroccan government continues to suppress the population by keeping them stateless.
The territory is also called the Garden of Hell because of its 16 yearlong war between the Saharawis and the Moroccans. The UN was the mediator after the war in 1991 where it was decided that a public voting should take place. To this day the voting has not been carried out.
Spain tries and have tried to cover up the open wound in their colonial history by giving the Saharawi youth scholarships so they can go abroad to study. Similarly Spain accepts children of the Saharawi each summer so they can get ‘fed up’ and get dental checkups. The only option for the Saharawi youth to see a brighter future is to take the chance of studying abroad. The Scholarships made possible by Spain, Cuba and Algeria are responsible for the high educational level within the Saharawi people who seemingly are the most educated people in West Africa.
If you want to know more about the Saharawis there are numerous articles and a documentary called “We Are the Saharawis”.