Early mornings in the desert are usually dry, dusty and warm — in the summer, sometimes excruciatingly hot. There was a bit of a wind on the morning of Feb. 26, one that carried a certain sense of foreboding: a nasty sirocco, or sandstorm, was apparently on its way. Still, there was also an anxious anticipation, as an historic resistance action was about to take place.
On the eve of the 42nd declaration of a still-unrecognized Sahwari Arab Democratic Republic, and after 136 years of Spanish colonialism and Moroccan occupation, people from all walks and areas of Western Saharan life were about to assert themselves as a united people by voting in a symbolic but highly representative referendum for full independence as a nation. The people of Western Sahara were not waiting for colonialists, neo-colonists, or an unresponsive global community to grant them what they are in the business of building for themselves.