What do young people know about Western Sahara?

Rooted deeply in our foreign policy is the mantra, ‘an enemy to none and a friend to all’, which helps us identify ourselves in the global village. This mantra is profoundly sermonized by our leaders in government but shunned to a skeletal stage by those in opposition circles.

However, the most crucial question to this diplomatic stance is whether or not such a disposition would help inform our young people who of our global allies we ought to rally behind without fear.

It is common knowledge that Namibia stands resolutely besides the people of Western Sahara as they continuously demand to be given their inalienable right of self-determination – as with the people of Palestine. It is also common knowledge, and the Namibian President Hage Geingob spoke of this at the UN, that Morocco, which continues to occupy Western Sahara, is also a friend of Namibia. Morocco supported Namibia’s quest for independence during the liberation struggle. Indeed their role in our independence cannot be denied.

The question however is whether our belief of being an enemy to none and friend to all would allow Namibian youths to adopt a strong stance, draw the line in the sand, as it were, on the Western Sahara issue. Could Namibian youths really be able to stand with their fellow youths in Western Sahara and say, ‘enough is enough, this ends here’? Could they indeed make a frank call on their fellow youths in Morocco to say, ‘we are troubled at your country’s occupation of Western Sahara. On this issue we shall fight you until you restore what is rightfully for those in Western Sahara’?

It is also quite clear that many Namibian youths appear unconcerned with international affairs, especially with regard to the much bigger fights being undertaken by youths elsewhere. They have very little interest in what is happening beyond the borders shared with South Africa, Angola, Botswana and Zambia.

A trip to any public gathering will send cold chills up your spine as you will unfortunately be served a cold dish of the truth that most them do not know that Western Sahara is a disputed territory in the Maghreb Arab region of North Africa, where there is an on-going conflict between the Polisario Front and the Kingdom of Morocco, since Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975 after the Spanish colonial master left that vast desert land.

It interesting to note that Namibians are not even aware that the Saharawi people are seeking their independence and self-determination, and that there are strong calls for a referendum to decide the issue. However, Morocco is fighting tooth and nail to keep its integration.

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