Suffering Beauty by Wiem, Tunisia – photo essay –

What is fair and what is not? Who gets to define that, control it or supervise it? Who gets to install it in this world? We sometimes tend to forget, or more likely, we tend to neglect some of the world’s most generous gifts: nature.  Ain Drahem is a place known for being one of the poorest places in my country. For years, no one acknowledged this place for its amazing landscapes and harmonized beauty. Even when we recently started to taking notice of it, it lead to a real catastrophe. Let me take you back in time. Back in 1881, when the French colonisation started in Tunisia, this small village was the very first one to be colonized. Its men opposed and fought the French soldiers. Given the strategic location of this place, next to the Algerian borders, Khmir fighters (referring to Khmir mountains) were able to successfully launch some attacks and stop the French soldiers from passing these borders into Tunisia. The Khmir fighters were known for their will and strong opposition, causing them to be ‘punished’ by authorities. Because of the fact that Ain Drahem is located in the mountains, this region has often been neglected by those in power. Today, it is officially a marginalized region, as defined by the law.  After the revolution, some people wanted to invest in the breathtaking beauty of this nature, and so, we finally noticed how we can make Ain Drahem one of the places for alternative tourism. Any person who knows this place would be a honest witness to the richness of this region, its mountains and hills, all green and mesmerizing. It’s a heaven where I personally would not mind getting lost in. Is this the happy ending for this place? I don’t want to ruin any dreams, but no, it is not. In fact, Ain Drahem is facing an ecosystem disaster in the near future, caused by the excessive, non-controlled, unauthorized visits to the mountains. Irresponsible people are taking advantage of this place to gain money, not respecting the road map, over exploiting the region and leaving their trash behind. It is so unfortunate. Once again, humans interfering in the course of nature, cutting down trees to have more accessible places to ‘visit’, ruining landscapes to have a better selfie background, and chasing animals to assure the safety of their customers has endangered the welfare of this region. I took these pictures two weeks ago, when I visited the place with a friend who lives there, and who is fighting to have the authorities attention to do something about these omissions. These emissions are directly and massively ruining the beauty of Ain Drahem and threatening its ecosystem’s harmony. One thing I will never forget is what my friend said, which is the reason for adding the historical background : “We were always known, all the way back to our ancestors, for being fighters, and even if the authorities keep neglecting us, we will never give up fighting”.

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