Othmane, originally from the Sahara, greeted us and asked about what we were going to do during our visit to Ikaztegieta. He wanted to take part, along with his family and tell us his story.
He has been living in Ikaztegieta for 6 years with his wife, three daughters and two sons. He has lived in other countries before, and even in other villages in the area. He tells us that in Ikaztegieta he feels like one of the community.
Othmane brings with him the Sahara and the history of the Sahrawi people.
The history of Western Sahara is complex and painful. Othmane himself told us how, as a child, in 1975, he had to leave his home on foot with his whole family to reach the refugee camps in Algeria. A very hard road, with many losses in all senses, where life was transformed to the rhythm of the war with Morocco.
As a child, like many other Sharawi children, Othmane was sent to Libya to study. Others were sent to Algeria or Cuba. Today, his profession, like ours, is photography, and his images of the Sahara have been exhibited in Italy and the Basque Country, among other places; exhibitions that have always aimed to show the reality of his community.
After 46 years of conflict and survival in refugee camps in the middle of the desert, with a shortage of water, food and an extreme climate, the determination they have for their cause and the heartfelt way in which they explained the history of their people is admirable. The goal of peace and independence in Western Sahara is an end in itself. He tells us that they will continue to work for it until it is achieved.
Fortunately, today he is more hopeful than ever. he African Union recognises the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and its right to self-determination. Others, such as Spain and the UN, will be essential to bring this conflict to an end. What is clear is that if it were a poor territory, the SADR flag would have been flying since the proclamation of its independence in February 1976.
Meanwhile, Othmane and the Saharawi people continue to explain their history.