The Algerian city of Constantine was recently the site of renewed tensions between Morocco and Algeria.
The city’s football stadium, named after Nelson Mandela, played host to the opening ceremony of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), in the course of which the grandson of the South African leader and anti-Apartheid champion was invited to give a speech.
Mandla Mandela reminded attendees of his grandfather’s anti-colonial message, which resonated with the cheering crowd, as Algeria partly defines itself in terms of its independence struggle against France, still within living memory.
Mandela turned to contemporary politics, pointing out that Africa is still blighted by colonialism, namely in the case of the Western Sahara’s occupation by Morocco: “Don’t forget the last colony of Africa, Western Sahara … Let us fight to free Western Sahara from oppression.”
The speech also referred to Nelson Mandela’s opinion concerning Israel as an apartheid state, calling to “Free Palestine.”
Morocco’s football federation has put out a statement, describing the speech as “provocative and surreal.”
All of this comes in the wake of worsening Moroccan-Algerian relations.
In terms of geopolitics, Morocco maintains good relations with Israel, putting Algeria on the other side of an emerging Near Eastern and North African consensus.