Sahrawi Women Dwell: Tebra’ Poetry as an Expression of Cultural, Social, and Gender Awareness




Tebra’, Sahrawi Women Poetry, Agency , Cultural, Social, and Gender Awareness, Hassani culture


The role of women in the Sahrawi society is significant. In an early Bedouin context, women produced, built, and moved a tremendous symbol of the Sahara Desert: the hair tent. In other words, the Sahrawi woman could be considered the sole responsible for creating a private sphere, in which she dwells and acts as the head. Furthermore, around that private sphere comes a public one, where women gather for Twiza Day (the day of making a hair tent). In such ceremonies, these women flirt, mock, and compose poetic expressions to call for the attention of men who are passing by. This paper investigates a collection of poetic productions – Tebra’ – in which women project a clear sense of agency and awareness towards a “semi-patriarchal” system. This type of composition mirrors what the Egyptian ethnographer Lila Abu-Lughod classifies as the fourth category of resisting patriarchy among the Bedouin women of Awlad ‘Ali in Egypt. This paper uses Abu-Lughod’s study to draw a comparative study between the two Bedouin contexts. Overall, this paper puts under scrutiny an overlooked body of writing – Tebra’ – to comprehend the degree of cultural, social, and gender awareness among the women of the Great Sahara Desert, thereby contributing to our understanding of the role of literature in shaping societal norms and values.

Author Biography

  • Erragab Eljanhaoui, Ibn Zohr University

    Erragab Eljanhaoui is PhD Student at Ibn Zohr University, Morocco. He is tracing back various 19th Century Barbary Captivity Narratives. He is deconstructing an array of images and stereotypes drawn of the Sahrawi nomads who are inhabiting the Great Sahara Desert.