The Algerian Mandole

Click on image for source

Click on image for source

All lovers of Algerian Chaabi music must know the Algerian mandole for this instrument is a must in any decent Chaabi performance. It is also used in Kabyle Chaabi or traditional music and in Andalusian music as well.

The Algerian mandole was created in 1930 by a luthier named Bélido after an order by and following the recommendations of Algerian Chaabi master El Hadj Mhamed El Anka. Now it can be found in 4, 5 or 6-course versions. The picture shows a 4-course version held by Algerian luthier Rachid Chaffa who made mandoles for some famous Algerian artists such as Guerrouabi, Amar Ezzahi, Boudjemaa El Ankis, Takfarinas and Maatoub Lounas.

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Book Review: Avec tes mains

Lhyza Libertad reviews a book she read and, I believe, liked. I had never heard of this author before so thanks Lhyza for letting us (me) know about him and for your contribution to Patriots on Fire.
As this is (only) the second guest-post we’ve got on the blog, I take this opportunity to remind our readers that the blog is open to all guest-posts on topics related in a way or another to Algeria.

Here is Lhyza’s text.

avec tes mainsIn August 2013 I went on a trip to France and my last stop was in Paris. You know this town, that people either love for its romanticism or hate for its rudeness. This town, which has thousands of streets filled with book shops. As a book lover I spent almost all my free time in these book shops if I was not meeting my friend Ingrid or watching a film with my hosts near Telegraphe in the 19ème. My hosts were really artistic and open-minded, they recommended me to go to the Arab World Institute to see an interesting exhibition there. Of course I followed their recommendation and went there. As in all museums or exhibition centres you have a book shop with various objects that they also sell, as souvenirs you know.

I am coming to the point. Be patient. Continue reading

كاد الرئيس أن يكون رسولا

I know I should be writing about the tragic mess in Ghardaia and how the state has simply abandoned the citizens but I admit that I don’t know more than what’s reported by the press, which means I have little to add. Well, I actually do have my two cents. I said in a previous comment on this blog that the state (whatever this means in Algeria) seems to do all it could to stir things up. So not only do I think it cannot solve the issues in Ghardaia but I am not convinced it wants them solved. At least not before they reach some very serious level.
Whatever the real reasons behind the riots and the confrontations between the Mzabis and the Arabs (Chaanba), Continue reading


cherifaThis morning, as I checked the Algerian Radio website, I read the sad news of Cherifa’s death at the age of 86. I spoke in a previous post about how only death seemed to make us realise the dead was noteworthy, and I believe that I should have written about Cherifa earlier.

Cherifa-n-w-Akbou, whose real name was Ouardia Bouchemlal, wasn’t really from Akbou as many had thought; she was indeed born in the wilaya of Bordj Bou Arreridj and moved to Akbou only when she was a teenager. Her Wikipedia entry [Fr] says enough things which I don’t have to repeat here.

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Ahmed Adhimi and others on El Atlas TV

A quick post to share the videos of two debates shown on El Atlas TV these past days with analyst Ahmed Adhimi who says many sensible things. News just reported that this channel, El Atlas TV, has been visited by the national gendarmerie and its cameras, etc. have been seized. We don’t know the reasons yet.

The videos are in Arabic and some French. Continue reading

3/4 x 4 = 0

As he celebrates (or not) his seventy seventh birthday today, Bouteflika will have to wait a few more days before he receives his most longed for present: the confirmation of his presidential candidacy for a fourth term. All potential candidates must indeed submit their application files before March 4 and the Constitutional Council is expected to validate them and publish the full list of eligible candidates on March 13.

It was PM Sellal who, disregarding Bouteflika’s call for the administration neutrality, annouced that the president will run for a fourth term. The announcement led some parties such as the MPS, RCD and Ennahda to call for a boycott of the presidential elections and some potential candidates such as Kamel Benkoussa and Soufiane Djilali to withdraw theirs. It is fair to say that some other candidates also withdrew but only to back the president’s candidacy. All this happens in the midst of a total indifference of the majority of the people that even the turbulent Saidani and other circus entertainers couldn’t stir up. Continue reading

Religious Stories in Algerian music

It is possible to find references to God, the Prophet Mohamed pbuh or faith in many Algerian songs. And almost all musical styles, from the most sacred to the most profane, display such references. This perhaps shows the place religion’s taken in our people’s daily life.

Nasheeds and mystic Sufi music could be flagged as sacred even though the first nasheeds I knew were more patriotic than religious. Algeria offers in Chaabi and Andalusian music two musical styles which could convey a religious message. The Madih is for example a famous sub-genre of the Chaabi music (be it in Arabic or Kabyle) and Algerians are used to hearing it in Ramadhan after the Iftar and on Fridays after the Jumua prayer. Continue reading

What is going on between Hitler and some Algerians?

1545820_590754907646570_1897606321_nYou cannot have escaped it. If you are Algerian and/or follow Algerian content on Facebook and YouTube then you must have come across pictures and videos made by Algerians and which depict their authors’ idea of what Hitler would have thought of Algeria and its people.

The picture to the right says “Hitlerian like” and I found it posted on Facebook by somebody who probably felt that hitting the Like button was not enough. But this example is not what the other videos and pictures are about. Continue reading

Knighthood in Democracy

Abdelmalek Sellal, Algeria’s Prime Minister (and prime humorist), has recently called the presidential election candidates to safeguard the nation’s unity and to be democracy knights.

In Algeria, having different opinions is sometimes considered a threat to the nation’s unity and one could easily be flagged as unpatriotic should he/she display a behaviour which is not accepted as the national norm (don’t ask me what this means).
My point today is not about the nation and its unity. It is rather with the democracy knights that Sellal wants us (I say us as I am a candidate too) to be.

knights Continue reading

Cheikh Larbi Bensari

Cheikh larbi bensariIt has been long since I last mentioned the Andalusian music on this blog, which is a shame as it is my preferred music style besides Algerian Chaabi.

Cheikh Larbi Bensari was born in Tlemcen between 1863 and 1872 and soon became the city’s style master.

He began his active life as an apprentice barber but soon switched to music and trained under Cheikh Boudhalfa’s control. He learned to play the violon, the mandolin, the gnibri and the rbeb; and sung several Andalusian styles such as the Gharnati, Hawzi, Sanaa and 3rubi. Apparently, he even sung in Kabyle. Continue reading