This fall, London-based arts and human rights charity Sandblast is organising a series of multi-media events to remind the British public and politicians about the ongoing 40 years-long plight of the indigenous Saharawis from “Africa’s Last Colony”: Western Sahara. This former Spanish colony was forcefully occupied by Morocco at the end of 1975, provoking mass exodus into harsh refugee camps in Algeria and denying the Saharawis their self-determination dreams.
Arts Council-funded “Africa’s Last Colony” will launch with 40-year retrospective photo and film exhibition at Hoxton’s Hundred Years Gallery (Oct 15th-28th), as part of East London-wide Photomonth festival. Private view night on Oct 15th will open with a 1988 BBC film presented by Royal African Society’s director Richard Dowden.
UK-based photographers representing a wide range of styles and themes, from pinhole to reconstructed images, taken from 1976 up to the present, will be featured alongside the screening of films by UK filmmakers and presenters, including Michael Palin and Simon Reeve, who have contributed to documenting this underreported story over the past four decades. Researchers, activists and artists will also share their views on different aspects of the conflict, including representatives of Saharawi youth. All events are free of charge.
“Our experiences in Tindouf will never be forgotten and I was enormously impressed by what we saw of the life of the Saharawis in exile. I very much hope for a fair and just outcome for the Saharawis. Your consistent and persistent refusal to be ignored is admirable and inspirational” - Michael Palin
To culminate two ticketed events will be hosted at the Bolivar Hall, the cultural centre of the Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. On Oct 30th, Sandblast will screen the English premiere of "Life is Waiting: Referendum and Resistance in Western Sahara” (7.30pm, £10/£12). This cutting-edge film highlights the youth perspective on the conflict and will be followed by a panel discussion with special guests such as journalist Sean Williams and Venezuelan ambassador to France Hector Mujica, who has supported the Saharawi cause for many years.
On Nov 7th London’s leading artists who have been to the camps, Luzmira Zerpa and Family Atlantica (Afro-Latin), Grupo Lokito (Cuban-Congolese), Pia de Keyser (singer songwriter) and Sam Berkson (spoken word), will perform in a concert for the Saharawis (7.30pm, £12/£15).
All events will be highlighting Sandblast’s work in the Saharawi refugee camps through projects Studio-Live and Run the Sahara.