The pain of nostalgia

The Resistance Museum or The Museum of the Sahrawi people’s Liberation Army is located in Rabuni refugee camp, the place where most of the administrative buildings of Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic are located. Even if these camps are inside the Algerian territories, concretely in the Tindouf Province, very close to the border with the liberated territories, they are under the jurisdiction of the Polisario Front forces.

Exterior del museu i restes del material bèl·lic requisat el Marroc
Exterior del museu i restes del material bèl·lic requisat el Marroc

Then, the Museum is another weapon the popular government has in order to create consciousness, but, most of all, in order that its young people and the visitors never forget the reasons why they have been brought to the actual situation in which they are found — isolated in the middle of the desert by the Spanish State because of a wrong decolonization process, used by the Kingdom of Morocco to occupy illegally and under the dream of the Great Morocco and the predatory practice, and by an international community that has been unable to impose legality.

The situation of the camps is mostly based in the distribution that the Polisario Front makes of the resources they get, mostly from the International Cooperation (which, under the excuse of the crisis is falling down to very worrying minimums for the survival of the population). This is so because the situation there is provisional. The goal is to be able to come back to the occupied territories as briefly as possible and with the agreement of doing a self-determination referendum. So, there are practically no own economic structures, product of this provisionality.

Interior del museu: sala sobre la historia del Frente Polisario
Interior del museu: sala sobre la historia del Frente Polisario

The Museum is controlled by the Sahrawi’s army, but fear not, as you will not find any surly colonel armed to the teeth. The army is nothing else but a kind of precarious national police that cannot completely face up a professional army like the Moroccan one. Besides the historical tale, with the presence of very interesting documentation regarding the creation of the Polisario Front, the main Sahrawi military milestones are also gathered there. Those are typical from guerrilla groups in order to unbalance. That’s why the show proudly the material confiscated from the Moroccan army. However, we are also welcomed by a pictorial mural with three heroes and three historical stages, from a local artist. Then, the art has its roll too.

Pintura con Uali Mustafa Sayed en el centro
Pintura con Uali Mustafa Sayed en el centro

But if something is especially interesting, it is the way they hang and denounce the Moroccan Wall. We all may know some shameful walls like the one in Palestine, Ceuta and Melilla, or the one in the south of the USA. But we know very little from the Wall that isolates the occupied territories and their main natural sources from the liberated territories in the Saharan desert, as well as the way that this Wall might have been paid with money from the UE and other organisms, with the excuse that Morocco may control the sub-Saharan immigration. Let’s be realistic: the Sahrawi army wouldn’t be such a big threat to daily send one million dollar to its construction and maintenance (shifting of the army and installation of millions of anti-personnel mines that are currently still active through its whole length).

Maqueta del muro
Maqueta del muro

Create consciousness and denounce are the main goals of the museum. However, it always keeps the optimistic and welcoming spirit that characterizes the Sahrawi society. That’s how the presence of some art works, the updated museographic and historiographic story, and the presence of small trees that survive in the middle of the desert, make it, apart from being a military Museum, a gathering of the romanticism of a nation that has been, during almost forty years, resisting and demanding (nowadays pacifically) its rights.

*Title taken from the song ‘Estrella Polisaria’
**Images handed over by the CJE, Spanish Youth Council

Posted by Gabino Martínez Muñoz
Translated by Raül Gil Alonso


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