This is Hamza Lakhal recaiting some of his poems while we were preparing an audio-visual interview. [File: Nushtta Foundation ]
By Nushatta Foundation Staff
El-Aaiùn ( WESTERN SAHARA ) – “Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance”, Mahmoud Darwish said. A generation goes and a generation comes, yet poetry remains the bridge between those who are pursuing the scent of freedom. History repeats Darwish today in Western Sahara through Hamza Lakhal; a young Saharawi man who has been producing Arabic poetry since he was about fourteen years old. He uses poetry as a devotional art which allows the eruption Morocco has left inside him and his people to flow out.
Lakhal’s poetic words are his tools to resist the colonization of his homeland by Morocco. The military power has held his country for decades, and left him with long-lasting traumatic effects. The childhood of Lakhal is similar to many Saharawis who have endured constant difficulties during their lives. However, a huge percentage of them in the Moroccan controlled parts of Western Sahara do not have adequate means to battle for freedom because of Morocco’s violent regime. Hamza has used his poetry as a boundless space to intellectually fight the many restrictions imposed by Morocco, such as discrimination and violent subjugation. Such repressive measures are features that characterize the Moroccan colonization strategy trying to stem the non-violent Saharawi voices. Lakhal’s poetry is an innocent act of defiance against this repression.
Although he is may not be aware of it, Lakhal’s work confirms a quote from Pablo Neruda, ” Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread. ” The appearance of poetry as an act of defiance through art marked a turning point in the life of Lakhal, as he was in need of language or magic words enabling him to speak his mind and express his inner fear, sufferings and the things the Moroccan secret service caused him to endure from infancy.
During our preparation of an audio-visual interview with Lakhal that will be posted later, it was noted in all his uttered words and contemplations that the ruthless memories of the past are still engraved on his mind. The interview also shows how poetry helped him triumph over these difficulties. “I was brought up seeing the Moroccan Secret Police breaking into the houses of Saharwis, including my house, where my siblings were arrested and kidnapped,” Hamza Lakhal said. Such horrific experiences did not stop at invading his family house by the Moroccan police under the cover of darkness, but they also hindered him from pursuing his education in 2002; after he and other Sahrawis demanded the Moroccan authorities to set up a university in Western Sahara, Lakhal was expelled from his school.
The rebelling of Lakhal against the substandard situation in Western Sahara that lacks universities, cinemas, theatres, pools, hospitals, and all the simple requirements for normal life, drove the Moroccan authorities to restrict him from pursuing his studies or participating in cultural activities. This was their way of retaliating against the disobedience and insubordination he displayed with his poetry. The heavy price Lakhal has had to pay for years and years is unfair retribution, but it has nurtured the awakening of an inner poetic desire; actually allowing him to be heard and to voice the discontent of other voiceless Saharwi.
Lkahal views the role of poetry in life as a transcendent capacity of the souls of human beings to express their frustration and share their inner feelings, despite cultural and ethnic differences. Poetry is a spellbinding skill. It rebirths hope and dreams, which are motivators to resist oppression.