‘THE ACACIAS OF THE EXODUS’, BY CONCHI MOYA A BOOK ON THE MEMORY AND THE HOPE OF THE SAHARAUIS

June 14, 2019 porunsaharalibre
Conchi Moya writes stories about real, famous and anonymous characters

“I want the Saharawi to be known and to denounce the injustice committed to a worthy and courageous people”, he assures

* Source:  RTVE. Por JESÚS JIMÉNEZ (@vinetabocadillo) 13.06.2019

The Saharawi people have been asking for self-determination for almost half a century, to be allowed to live in peace on their land. But their hopes of achieving it seem increasingly distant for the Moroccan occupation and international indifference. Now the writer Conchi Moya (Madrid, 1971) gives voice to famous and anonymous people in a series of stories she has written on the subject: “The acacias of the exodus/ Acacias del Exodo” (Sílex ediciones), that allow us to better understand the dreams and hopes of the Saharawi.

“All the stories have in common that they revolve around the Saharawi,” says Conchi. I have chosen time as a way to structure them. So there are three parts: yesterday, where I collect stories from the time when Spain was still in the territory and from the moment of Moroccan abandonment and subsequent invasion; the today, with stories inspired by the current period of impasse, a situation of neither peace nor very dangerous war for the Saharawi, and a third part located in the morning, where I reflect the longing for what I hope will soon happen in the Sahara to through a story related to the Saharawi musicians of all times”.

“The acacias of the exodus -continues the writer- is a book of stories about memory and hope that has been defined as” not neutral “, that” does not leave indifferent “or as” a punch in the jaw of Spanish international politics ” At the literary level, the sweetness with which Acacias del Exodo describes harsh situations and the ability to extract literary material and reach the reader’s heart from everyday stories and seemingly insignificant details has been highlighted. ”

“With these stories,” she adds, “I want the Saharawi to be known, to know who are the cause of the terrible situation they are living and to denounce the injustice committed with a worthy and courageous people who are defending their right to exist as they who are, Saharawi. ”

“My aspiration with the book is especially to reach readers who do not know anything about the Saharawi people, that these stories interest them and that, after reading them, they stay” adds the author.

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A book inspired by the repression of 2010

The Madrid-born writer tells us how the book was born: “My writing of Saharawi themes has a lot to do with my day to day life, with the follow-up to the daily news of what happens in Western Sahara, with what I perceive in conversations with Saharawi friends, what I gather from contact with human rights activists, with Saharawi refugees in the diaspora, with my family. The harsh circumstances that the Saharawi live have made them protagonists of vital experiences that deserve to be told. From the intention of making known through the literature those stories that the Saharawi treasure is born the acacias of the exodus.

“In 2010 -she continues- I began to write some stories inspired by what happened in the Saharawi camp of Gdeim Izik, a peaceful uprising of the Saharawi population in occupied territory that was brutally dismantled by the Moroccan occupier. Those vertiginous days impressed me deeply and I needed to express everything that was lived then “.

“A couple of years ago,” adds Conchi- I decided to put together several of those stories and new ones that had been emerging and from that moment I thought there could be a book. I was lucky that it interested Ramiro Dominguez of Sílex Ediciones and thanks to them I have been able to see it published in an editorial of great solvency and long trajectory “.

Based on facts and real characters

Although they are stories, they are all inspired by real people and events, as Conchi tells us: “All the stories are based in some way on facts and real characters. From a story, an anecdote, a conversation, a personal experience or a detail that moves me, I write the story “.

“In other cases,” she adds, “I have sought to write about an event in which I was personally interested. This is the case of the mythical photo of the Saharawi combatant with a baby in arms made by the photo reporter Christine Spengler or the visit of Felipe González to the Saharawi refugee camps in November 1976. In both cases I interviewed some of its protagonists and I’ve fictionalized the facts to turn them into literature. ”

“The reader must bear in mind that it is not a history book, my approach to the real events that I narrate is literary” -says Conchi-.

“Women are still at the forefront of the Saharawi struggle”

The Saharawi women have great prominence in these stories and also in the Saharawi people. “The Saharawi woman has been a pillar in their society since time immemorial,” says Conchi Moya. During the years of exodus and war their role was fundamental. They set up the camps while the men were in the war, they were masons, sanitarians, educators, they organized the Saharawi state in exile. ”

“Today they are still at the vanguard of the Saharawi struggle,” she continues, “as can be seen in the occupied territories where women lead demonstrations and where there are reputed human rights activists who suffer persecution, torture and imprisonment. All this is reflected in my stories, many of them starring women. What does not stop that the Saharawi women continue fighting today for having a more decisive and egalitarian role in their society “.

The human and natural landscape

The human landscape tends to be confused with the natural Saharawi society. “The nature of the desert, inclement and extreme, molds and intervenes in the character of its inhabitants,” says Conchi. The Saharawi are a seasoned, dignified and patient people. A Saharawi proverb says that “the shadow comes to those who endure.” From the cause we encourage each other to continue the journey with a word “follow”, we must harden so that the unfavorable situation does not dismay you. This way of being has much to do the hardness of the landscape that surrounds the Saharawi. ”

“That landscape that they have dispossessed unjustly, that land longed for, has always been sung by the Saharawi poets,” she adds. It is true that a poet lives in every Saharawi, either to compose verses or to memorize them and know how to reproduce them on the most appropriate occasion. The earth is the main inspiration of the Saharawi poetry; As Ebnu, one of the Saharawi poets in Spanish, says, the Saharawi poetry is a geographical atlas that evokes mountains, rivers, hills, dunes or valleys. Poetry is without a doubt one of the great patrimonies that the Saharawis have “.

Saharawi culture and music

And is that one of the things that Conchi wanted to highlight in the book is the Saharawi culture, highlighting the music. “Culture,” she says, “is one of the fronts that the Saharawi have chosen to denounce their situation to the world. Cinema, literature, art and of course music. From the beginning of the Saharawi revolution, when they were fighting for their independence from Spain, the Polisario Front used music to stir the conscience of the people and spread slogans. The poets composed revolutionary lyrics that were then sung by the first voices that emerged in Saharawi music. ”

“With the Moroccan Mauritanian invasion, bands like Mártir Luali were created, which took the cause to many countries through music,” she continues. That’s what I wanted to remember and honor in the story that closes the book “Songs for a revolution”, in which I also play a game over time to invoke that “longing that no longer waits”, as the poem says. Chejdan Mahmud. ”

“The Saharawi music -concludes- has lived moments of enormous splendor with Mariem Hassan, the great Saharawi voice that unfortunately left us too soon. As she said, supporters of causes come and go but culture, music, literature, poetry generate “fans” forever because a fan will never leave you. Those words were remembered by Mariem’s nephew in the presentation of The Acacias of the Exodus in Madrid. ”

“Do not let him saddle your rahla (saddle) who does not travel with you”

On the cover of the book can read a phrase that has inspired the author on this literary journey: ‘Do not let saddle your rahla (saddle) who does not travel with you’. “The phrase is a Saharawi proverb and has been remembered by the writer and researcher Bahia Awah on the back cover of the book,” says Conchi. It is a very powerful phrase like everything that comes from popular knowledge. The meaning is clear, I only understand the accompaniment to a cause, in this case the Saharawi, as a daily trip, a daily effort to which we must commit ourselves directly. ”

“This book is another way of accompanying the Saharawi on this long journey towards freedom, which for them lasts more than forty years. I have been accompanying them for nineteen years and I hope that it will reach its final destination as soon as possible, ” she concludes.

“Hope remains intact”

As we mentioned, the book also worries about the future of the Saharawi, after a conflict so long and that does not seem to have a short-term solution. “The Saharawi problem is political but it has been left in the hands of the UN, an organization that has proved incapable of solving it,” says Conchi-, beginning because France, the main defender of the Moroccan occupier, exerts all its influence so that things do not solve. ”

“Spain, which is still the administrator of the territory, has disregarded its obligations to the Saharawi and has given it to Morocco for personal interests, the atavistic fears of the uncomfortable neighbor of the South and the lack of vision of the Spanish leaders.”

“However, there is life beyond the mediocre politicians of old Europe,” says Conchi. The cause is still alive, continues to gain supporters, the Saharawi Republic is moving forward with strength in the African continent where it is active founding member of the African Unity and relations with Latin American governments are fluid thanks to, among other things, the Spanish language they have in common “.

“The current situation is one of impasse, since the ceasefire of 1991 there is a situation of” no peace, no war “, which only benefits the occupier – adds the writer -. Morocco lets time pass, while it continues to deplete the Saharawi natural resources and the occupied Sahara is filled with Moroccan settlers. That is why I say in the book that “nothing is as violent as this peace today”. The Saharawi people remain divided and dispersed, going through many hardships in the refugee camps and suffering terrible repression in the occupied territories.”

“However, the hope remains intact, the Saharawi fight for what is theirs, their cause is completely legal and just and will eventually prevail,” concludes Conchi.

“Several generations of Saharawi do not know their land”

One of the problems that the Saharawi face is that many young people do not even know their homeland. “Because of these more than forty years of occupation, several generations have already been born outside the territory that do not know their land,” says Conchi. Some live under a very heavy occupation, others as refugees in the camps and others in the diaspora, sometimes with their families and sometimes with host families. There is a great problem not only of forgetting the cause but directly of forgetting their culture, of uprooting themselves “.

“It’s a really worrying topic,” she continues. But the truth is that sooner or later the young people who are outside the cause end up assuming it as theirs. Little by little the new generations are occupying positions of responsibility in the Saharawi institutions, taking positions in the Saharawi activism in occupied territories or working for their cause from the cultural, informative or solidarity activism “.

Regarding her projects, Conchi Moya assures that: “At the moment my idea is to continue writing at my own pace, about the topics that interest me, mainly the Sahara and music. Currently I am focused on the writing of short stories of rock narrative, I have a finished novel and I am starting another. The radio, which is another of my passions, I have parked, but now I’m very happy for a collaboration with the literary podcast What do Valeria Surcis’s books smell like, where I can combine those two passions “.

To buy the book:LAS ACACIAS DEL ÉXODO – Conchi Moya

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