Jemna in Tunisia: an inspiring land struggle in North Africa | openDemocracy

BY HAMZA HAMOUCHENE

Over the past several years, the people of Jemna, a region in southern Tunisia famous for its excellent quality dates called Deglet Nour (the dates of light), have been engaged in an important and inspiring struggle around land rights. It took around a century for this oasis community to score a victory, albeit precarious for now, through occupying and working their long-confiscated land in an astonishing experience of self-management and voluntarism that emphasised the centrality of the peasant question and the right to land and other natural resources such as water in revolutionary times.  Jemna is a challenge and a threat to the power of the neoliberal and counter-revolutionary elite and it represents resistance and an alternative to the kinds of neo-colonial, dispossessing and environmentally damaging forms of managing and exploiting the land. The peasants of Jemna were dispossessed of their land in 1912 by French colonists who exploited it to export an original product (dates) to France. When Tunisians recovered their independence in 1956, instead of returning the land to its original and historically legitimate owners as well as (re)distributing it to landless peasants, the ruling elite nationalised the land and pursued a colonial model of intensive, mechanised modern agriculture at the expense of a traditional and subsistence one.

Source : Jemna in Tunisia: an inspiring land struggle in North Africa | openDemocracy

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