In Imider the streets have no name, only the main road that runs through it has one. Rather, not a name: a number. It is the « number 10 », the road which leads this far from Ouarzazate until to Imider, until to Tinghir. The South-East, the « deep Morocco », as it is called, Amazigh land, where in the villages the streets have no name. The road n. 10, the one of the sit-in of 1996, the one where today the Imider’s people walk the peaceful protest marches, the one from which, turning when you see the white trail marks, is reached Albban, the mountain top heart of the Resistance of this place. The Movement on the Road ’96 is in permanent sit-in since more than three years there.
It’s a long journey from Marrakech, where there is the nearest airport, driving a small rented car because during the days of Eid al-Fitr the buses are stopped. An amazingh road through the Atlas mountains, the Tizi n’Tichka to more than 2,000 meters and then down into the valley. A long journey that seems short, because Imider is a place that I want to achieve by so much and the time flies, along with the bends and the little towns that I leave behind.
In Imider the streets have no name, but people that lives there yes: names, faces and identities. Similar stories and yet all different, migrations abroad in search of work, social exclusion and constant feeling of being considered the last of the last in a country, Morocco, which instead wants to show a glossy image of efficiency, democracy and modernity .
Stories about divided families, because here – in the South-East – the men are always had to go abroad to work and guarantee an income and a better life for those who remain at home. Stories about fathers who manage to see their children, if all goes well, maybe once a year. Stories about fathers who, sometimes, don’t come back: there are the women – the mothers – who deal with everything else.
The streets have no name here in Imider, they are not paved, they are not safe. Children don’t have a place to play, I saw them on the road n. 10 with a ball, close to the cars whizzing away quickly. The Makhzen, the system, doesn’t invest one only dirham in places like this, and yet the nearby silver mine controlled by the SMI, owned by the Moroccan royal family, has an annual turnover of millions of euro. The history of anger and determination of the Movement on the Road ’96, that represents the Imider’s people, emerges here: the mine doesn’t produce wealth and jobs, only poverty, pollution and land desertification. Yes, because the mine also steals the water, it takes a lot to work the silver and precisely from the theft of water was born the protest: water is life, you can’t live without water, although here we are at the threshold of Sahara.
More than three years that the history of this place is crystallized in the need for acknowledgment of human and civil rights, three years of peaceful marches along the road n. 10, to shout in the ears of a careless and indifferent world what is happening here since a long time. More than three years of permanent sit-in, to oversee, in difficult and harsh conditions, the occupied top of Albban Mount, where Imider’s people has been forced to put the chains to the valves of the wells to regain possession of a common and basic good much as the water.
Where the streets have no name is hard even to give the trust, because too many times one has been tricked by false promises and coaxed with empty words that didn’t lead anywhere. It’s difficult for the Movement on the Road ’96 maintain an open, transparent and on par dialogue with the Makhzen and the mining company. The streets have no name here in Imider, but the young activists arrested and sentenced in these years they have it, all right: Mustapha Ouchtoubane, Hamid Berki, Omar Moujane, Brahim Hamdaoui, Abdessamad Madriont are just the latest in a long line. They are all very young, below 25-30 years old: their mothers often take the word in the Agraw, the popular assembly where everyone can express their opinion. Stories of anger against exclusion, patience and capacity to resist with stubborn determination to the pressures of the Makhzen and the mining company, to intimidation by the authorities and the police, to the beatings, the arbitrary arrests and farcical trials organized to condemn the activists. In Morocco, doesn’t exist the opinion crime, they are all petty criminals for the Makhzen: pilferers, small-time dealers, troublesome people who disturb the order and public tranquility.
And while I walk slowly through the streets with no name of Imider, trying to give a sense and a dimension to what I see, resound in my head the words of a poignant song of U2, that will remain in my mind the whole time I will remain here: « We’re beaten and blown by the wind – Trampled in dust – I’ll show you a place – High on a desert plain – where the streets have no name », we are beaten and blown by the wind – struggling in the dust – I’ll show you a place – on a desert plateau – where the streets have no name.