Great Sahrawi singer One of North Africa's great singers, Mariem Hassan used her powerful voice to publicise the plight of those who were forced to flee their homeland when Morocco took control of Western Sahara in 1975. She spent much of her life in the camps, starting her musical career in a group that provided support for the Polisario fighters in the war against Morocco. She became a heroine of the Sahrawi people and earned international acclaim. In October 1975, when Spain withdrew from Spanish Sahara, Morocco moved in, in the Green March, to claim the territory. Mariem and her family were among those who fled across the border to Algeria, settling in refugee camps that still exist as a reminder of Africa's longest running territorial dispute. In 1998, Mariem joined the group Leyoad, with whom she successfully toured Europe and released her album. Her international reputation flourished, and between 2008 and 2010 she took part in a series of festivals appearing in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Born in what was then the colony of Spanish Sahara, on the West coast of Africa, in a dry riverbed outside Smara, Mariem Hassan died of bone cancer in a desert refugee camp for the Sahrawi people in Southwest Algeria.
Compiler: M. Nauman Khan