Hi, thanks for visiting our Indie GoGo page! My name is Simba Russeau, and I started Taste Culture several years ago as a means of challenging racism, stereotypes and highlighting the plight of migrant domestic workers in Lebanon. In 2010, we launched our 24/7 Campaign where we were able to raise over $4,000 in two days to help at least seven children of migrant workers and refugees attend school. I'm also an award-winning multimedia journalist and blogger.
Arab Spring’s Forgotten Minorities
The Arab uprisings caused a major political shift in the Middle East and North Africa as millions of people took to the streets to demand dignity and that their voices are heard. However, as the struggle for democracy continues many ethnic minorities and indigenous populations are using the historic moment to force leaders to address long-standing grievances.
Arab Spring’s Forgotten Minorities is a response to the attention mainstream media has given to the role of social media during the uprisings while little has been said about the plight of ethnic minorities or indigenous peoples.
Western Sahara and the Arab Spring
The Western Sahara is a disputed territory in North Africa, bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the northeast, Mauritania to the east and south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Tens of thousands of Saharawis have been displaced from their lands and their struggle represents one of the world’s longest-running conflicts.
Noam Chomsky argues that the Arab Spring didn’t begin in Tunisia but can be traced back to the massive protest camp that appeared in the Western Sahara last year. Like the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Syria, the people who erected a month-long tent city at Gdeim Izik were protesting against unemployment, rising food prices and basic human rights.
Most importantly they were demanding an end to the thirty-six year Moroccan occupation and suppression of their culture, which began in 1976 when the Spanish departed.
Western Sahara and the Arab Spring will look at the Saharawi culture, traditions and their struggle for autonomy. Social and humanitarian challenges facing Saharawi women will also be examined. It will also examine the impact of an illegal 2005 fishing agreement known as the FPA (Fisheries Partnership Agreement) between the European Union (EU) and Morocco, which generates an estimated $196 million over a four-year period, on the Saharawi people’s economy and livelihoods.
Patience Runs Thin Amongst Egypt’s Nubians
In the wake of Egypt’s January 25 uprising, nearly three million Nubians are demanding their land rights. For thousands of years, the Nubians lived in villages along the banks of the Nile, stretching from Aswan in southern Egypt to northern Sudan. Despite retaining their own distinct language, culture and customs, many have been forced to end their way of life and abandon their lands.
Egypt’s ambitions to industrialize with the construction of the Aswan High Dam project in the 1950’s, which was intended to provide more land for agriculture and boost the country’s electricity production, resulted in massive displacement and flooding of the lands of old Nubia.
Although activists have been pressing Egypt’s government to address their long-standing grievances for decades, the recent Arab Spring has given the Nubians a fresh impetus.
Recently, the Nubians embarked on a seven-day sit-in in front of the Aswan governorate, which ended on September 11 after the interim government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf agreed to repatriate the Nubians to areas surrounding Lake Nasser and implement development projects. The latest sit-in is the fourth demonstration since the country’s 18-day revolt.
Patience Runs Thin Amongst Egypt’s Nubians will examine the Nubian tradition, culture and their connection to the land. It will also look at the historical role women played in ancient Nubia and their present day challenges. Finally, this piece will also look at the impact of climate change on the Nubian Nile Valley and the impact of the Aswan High Dam or Saad el-Aali on Nubian farmers.
Tunisia’s ethnic minority population of Berbers, who make up only one percent of the country’s ten million inhabitants, continue to demand an end to decades of government restrictions over their cultural identity.
For many Berbers, official recognition of their native tongue – Tamazight – would see their aspirations for a new Tunisia realized.
Demands for Arab unity during post-colonial rule saw a sharp decline in spoken Tamazight. Despite being fierce opponents of North Africa’s Arab rulers, the original inhabitants of the region are still denied their right to have their language spoken or taught in schools, during their annual cultural festival and non-Arab names on official state registries.
Berber Spring will explore a rich culture that dates back almost four thousand years including their distinctive dances and variety of musical styles.
How will it help?
A year following the Arab Spring, many communities in North Africa are still on the verge of extinction. Their languages, culture and land rights are disappearing by the minute - which is why we have to act NOW to tell their stories.
What We Need
Since the traditional venues for funding independent journalism have disappeared, I am appealing to you for help. Your support will cover air/train travel costs, accommodations/food, professional translators, fixers, transportation, creating the incentives that are offered and drivers (to access places that are not accessible via public transport).
Documentation will be posted on my personal blog, Witnessing Life and Taste Culture. Issues relating to the environment and gender will also be blogged on Inter Press News Service (IPS), Open Salon and the International Museum of Women's Her Blueprint.
What You Get
Now on to the incentives! We're offering an Oral E-History for anyone who gives $50 or more, which is an ebook that will bring together special interviews alongside images. Being a lover of music and a DJ I'll also be acquiring music along the way which you will find slipped into the packages as digital downloads. There's also E-Tastes, which will be a nice treat for all those who enjoy trying new foods!
Better than the Oral E-History is the Oral E-Herstory! Glance over to the right to get a better look at what you get!
Here's a bit of a challenge. YOU donate at least $25. Then YOU forward this link to 10 PEOPLE and get them to donate $25 too. Thus, the 25:10 Challenge. (larger contributions are more than welcome and are rewarded with a sliding scale of 'grateful love' gifts listed on the right. Donations are also available for tax deductions through my fiscal sponsor if interested.
Thanks to the Indie GoGo tools I can keep track of how many people you are referring back to this page (if you are using the share tools provided on this page so I can see how many of your referrals donate! So, here's a little extra incentive! I am offering the 'Oral E-Herstory' gift to you for getting all 10 friends to contribute $25. But you don't have to stop at 10 friends. For whoever gets the most people to donate $25 or whoever raises the most money through your referrals, I am offering you the 'Limited Edition' gift.
Other Ways You Can Help
Support independent journalism! Any donation, no matter how small, will go a long way in making the first phase of this project happen. Another way to show your support is by sharing the link to our fundraising page (http://www.indiegogo.com/Barakah-Bashad), tweet it, post it to Facebook, create a billboard in your area, add it to your blog or do a story about it!