Daily Archives: January 19, 2020

Western Sahara

As a young adult throughout the 1980s news reports frequently highlighted the civil wars in postcolonial Angola and Mozambique. The various warring parties were well known to me. Lesser known was the battle going on in an inhospitable Subsaharan chunk of northwest Africa, but the name of the liberation group had the ear catching name “Polisario”. I venture to say that most of my western contemporaries have had the same experience of having heard of them but having no idea of who they are and what they fought for.

Defacto border between Morocco and Western Sahara

Defacto border between Morocco and Western Sahara

Well now, 40 years later I am here. This area was a Spanish colony throughout the 20th century until, bowing to UN pressure Spain relinquished it to a joint power sharing arrangement between neighbouring Morocco and Mauritania. War erupted between them and the native Sahrawi people joined the conflict as a nationalist movement calling themselves Polisario. Mauritania dropped out of the war leaving Morocco and Polisario to fight it out since 1979. A cease fire was brokered by the UN in 1991 and it remains in force to this day. Morocco administers a majority of the country and all of the infrastructure. There is an internal borderline that separates the Moroccan controlled area from the sparsely populated barren Polisario controlled section to the east.

The “would be” capitol of Western Sahara is the city of Laayoune. Founded by the Spanish in 1938 it is a more pleasant African city than I expected but overall bereft of any major tourist sights.

CWC_7238-1 CWC_7239-1 CWC_7242-1 CWC_7256-1CWC_7263-1 CWC_7266-1 CWC_7268-1

Moroccan propaganda

Moroccan propaganda

Souq

Souq

CWC_7273-1 CWC_7274-1

Mosque

Mosque

CWC_7279-1 CWC_7285-1

Catholic Cathedral

Catholic Cathedral

CWC_7293-1 CWC_7294-1 CWC_7299-1 CWC_7310-1 CWC_7312-1 CWC_7314-1 CWC_7315-1 CWC_7336-1 CWC_7337-1 CWC_7338-1

Agadir

In February 1960 an earthquake measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale rocked southern Morocco. Despite it being of only moderate intensity it leveled the city of Agadir killing almost all of its 125,000 inhabitants. The only building left standing was the cinema built by the French. The rest of the buildings were traditional mud brick hence the devastation.

Nearly 60 years on and this has been rebuilt as a smart resort town. Looking down from the rebuilt 400 year old hilltop fortress, the city follows the curving sweep of golden sand beach. The buildings have a clean modern feel to it and upmarket restaurants line the marina full of tourist pleasure craft.

CWC_7184-1 CWC_7185-1 CWC_7188-1 CWC_7198-1 CWC_7200-1 CWC_7201-1 CWC_7210-1

Outside of town is a small but well built crocodile park which is also well worth a visit.

CWC_7183-1CWC_7149-1 CWC_7161-1 CWC_7165-1 CWC_7166-1 CWC_7167-1 CWC_7174-1 CWC_7175-1 CWC_7177-1