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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #52 of 54: Uganda | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #54 of 54: Zambia »

August 13, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #53 of 54: Western Sahara

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
53. WESTERN SAHARA
Flag of Western Sahara

Formal Name: Western Sahara.

Formal Name: Western Sahara.

Term for Citizens: Western Saharans.

Capital: El Aaiun.

Independence Achieved: (Ruled by Morocco.)

Major Cities: El Aaiun.

Geography:

Western Sahara is in Northwest Africa. Western Sahara is currently claimed by Morocco hence its land area is not given independent of that of Morocco. It is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania. The country is mostly sand and rock with little room for agricultural activities. Other than the strip of coastal land where some farming exists, the country is dry most of the year and does not encourage large population.

Society:

The population of Western Sahara is 50,000.

Ethnic Groups: Znaga, Tecna, Chorea and Arab are the main ethnic groups.

Languages: Arabic and Spanish.

Religion: Muslim.

Education: Some primary schooling. Literacy rate is estimated at 30%.

Economy: Fishing and drying the fish for sale and herding of camels, sheep and goats.
GDP/Per Capita GDP, See Morocco. Monetary unit, see Morocco.


History and Government:

Berbers lived in this part of Africa and were later joined by the Arabs. Spain claimed the area in 1958 and the residents agitated for independence and when that failed lunched a guerrilla war that led Spain to give up its imperial pretensions. Independence was gained in 1979. Morocco and Mauritania then struggled for ownership of the area, and divided the country into two. Morocco sought to take over the entire country and that led many natives to flee to Algeria where they have sympathetic listeners.


CONTEMPORAY HISTORY AND POLITICS


Western Sahara is inhabited by the same type of persons that inhabit Mauritania and Morocco, Arabs and Berbers. These Arabs are said to have migrated to the Maghreb (West of Egypt) in the eight century, from Yemen.

During the period of Portuguese and Spanish explorations of the Coast of West Africa, they made stops in the area. But it was only in the early twentieth century that the Spanish took control of the area.

In 1974, Spain decided to leave Spanish Sahara. Morocco and Mauritania struggled for ownership of the real estate. Morocco took northern part and Mauritania took the Southern part of Western Sahara.

These external powers, of course, did not ask the local population what they wanted. Power talks! The local population desired independence and formed a militia, POLISARIO and went to war. That war is still unsettled although it appears that Morocco won?

Mauritania, apparently, ran out of energy and resources to continue defending the south and withdraw and Morocco promptly took over the South of Western Sahara.

Morocco made vigorous efforts to show that the land belonged to her. The United Nations got involved and a referendum is supposed to be held to determine the wishes of the 200, 000 plus local Arabs. Morocco uses every subterfuge it can muster to postpone this referendum, and it has not been held. In the meantime, Morocco encourages her population to move into the area, hoping that when, eventually, such referendum is held that the people would decide to be with Morocco.

The economy of Western Sahara is based on fishing and was peace to come, the harnessing of such natural resources as phosphate.

Ozodi@africainstiteseattle.org

Posted by Administrator at August 13, 2006 12:50 PM

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