Life in Desert
The Sahara region is characterized by its desert and rain shortage. Life is hard and demography there is the lowest in the world. The region’s inhabitants are called Bedouins. These populations are accustomed to the desert harshness.
The Sahrawi society is characterized by its ancient customs and traditions regarding different living aspects including birth, old age, feasts, religious ceremonies and rituals relating to the holy month of Ramadan in addition to the Sahrawi cooking art and traditional clothing for Sahrawi men and women.
Like all Moroccans, Sahrawis are hospital, sociable and solidary. They also have an innate sense of respect for their animals and cattle.
In addition, there are other traditions relating to the traditional cooking art i.e. popular food and beverage and traditional clothing such as “Mlahfa” for women and “Daraa” for men.
There are also rituals of generosity, hospitality and entertainment, rituals relating to house arrangement (tent or modern house), education, solidarity and the relationship with livestock and various animals including the distinguished camel, the Sahara ship, which is never tired under whatever circumstances.
The relationship between Sahrawis and camels goes back to ancient ages. Sahrawis call this animal the ship of the desert for his endurance capacities and travels in the desert.
Camels have occupied distinguished position in Sahrawis life for many years. This same position has been kept for young generations who are aware of the camels role is their ancestors’ development: they were their only living source and their unique transportation means.
Camels are resisting animals and can be adapted without difficulty to life in the desert like Bedouins. They are soft and are characterized by great intelligence. They are calm and effective regardless of climate conditions.
They share the same emotions of their master: if the latter is scared, camels behave likewise and try to defend him. Sometimes, they can warn their master of an imminent danger by moving their head to the direction of the danger so they stand up inviting their master to leave.
This devoted behaviour makes of camels the most faithful and most loved friends of Sahrawis..
" This dedicated behavior makes camels the most loyal and beloved companions in the region."
Children in the southern provinces receive a preliminary traditional education. Their education often begins with learning the letters of the alphabet: alif, ba’a, tha’a (roughly the equivalent of a, b, c, respectively).
The children are exposed to the letters of the alphabet by a ‘fqih’ (someone versed in religious matters and who plays the role of the modern teacher).
Once they learn the alphabet, the children go on to learn compound letters of the alphabet such as ‘abjad’ ‘hawaz’ and ‘hati’, all of which combine two ore more letters of the alphabet. Thereafter, they start to learn the ‘basmala’ (how to invoke the name of God), how to recite the ‘fatiha’ (the name of the first sura in the holy Quran), and write one or two Quranic sura. They go on to learn the Quran in piecemeal fashion, the ultimate objective being to learn all of the whole Quran by heart.
The children, who come to do so deserve some type of celebration where their hands are tinged with henna, and where they are praised and congratulated for what they have come to achieve.Very often, the family whose child graduates from religious school offers the ‘fqih’ a ‘markub,’ a medium-built camel in recognition for the effort that he has deployed in teaching their son.