Africa's Last Colony
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara in October-November 1975 and the foundation of the Saharawi republic in exile in February 2016, we organised a series of events in London over 4 months with funding from the Arts Council.
Hundred Years Gallery, Hoxton
From Oct 15 - Nov 1, 2015, we held a 40-year retrospective photographic exhibition and film festival that highlighted the role of UK-based photographers and filmmakers in documenting the struggle in Western Sahara. This included daily activities such as artistic performances, film screenings, talks, and more by different people who have been involved with the Saharawi throughout the years. Richard Dowden, a former war journalist and president of the Royal Africa Society, launched the film festival with his 1979 film "War in the Sahara." The photography exhibition featured historical photos by eminent photo journalists John Tordai and Ed Harriman
Bolivar Hall (Venezuelan Embassy), Fitzrovia
October 30, 2015 was the English premiere of the documentary Life Is Waiting: Resistance and Referendum in Western Sahara, directed by Iara Lee of Cultures of Resistance. The film chronicles the struggle in Western Sahara from an artistic, youth and activism point of view.
On February 6, with the help of a fantastic team from Bolivar Hall, we put together a Benefit Concert to raise awareness and funds for the Saharawi refugees, who suffered devastating floods at the end of 2015.
The evening featured some of London's leading artists who have established different links with the Saharawi refugees over the years, including Pia de Keyser, singer-songwriter and actress, who recorded her songs in February 2015 in the Saharawi refugee camps; Ramon Goose, one of the most versatile blues artists of his generation, together with his band the World Scatterlings; Renny Jackson and his band, whose 2007 trip to the camps inspired the beautiful “Free Western Sahara” song; poet Sam Berkson, in collaboration with Algerian darbuka player Karim Dellali, who recited poems from Settled Wanderers: The Poetry of Western Sahara - a first ever English translation of Saharawi poetry; and Grupo Lokito, the best of Cuban-Congolese fusion, led by pianist and sound engineer Sara McGuinness. DJ Jamie Renton interlaced the evening with his irresistible global tunes.
Watch the video below for a great summary of the event!