I went to Paris a few weeks ago and, like often, I spent a few hours at the IMA. There was an exhibition, of photographs, paintings and sculptures by Tunisian artists, apparently related to the “Jasmine revolution”. I was disappointed to be honest, but this is not the topic.
So at the IMA I observed the roles distribution of its employees: the security people were black or from Algiers, the hostesses from Eastern Europe as they’re apparently the only to speak more than three languages, and French and Lebanese employees were at the bookshop and restaurants. And while in the bookshop, I was glad to find the books selection dedicated to Algeria’s independence 50th anniversary. But only a few were written by Algerians, and the only Algerian books in Arabic were Laredj‘s, Mosteghanemi‘s and Ouettar‘s. I started reflecting on the value that is “given” abroad to Algeria and Algerians, or on Algeria’s visibility abroad.
My reflection went further when I followed the IMA’s guide who “introduced” me to the Arab world. She was annoying with her “n’est-ce pas” at the end of every sentence but more annoying was the fact she never mentioned my country. She even talked of Djibouti for God’s sake! At the end of the tour I saw silver jewellery which looked very much like coming from Ath Yenni (you can see some here) so I thought here’s our chance… But the ugly guide said, “these are very beautiful cuffs from Tunisia, n’est-ce pas.” I was going to scream.
I am not particularly attached to Algeria’s belonging to the Arab world, but the fact I do not consider myself an Arab doesn’t mean I deny my country’s natural belonging to this region. So I admit I was disappointed (twice in one day) and felt the unfairness of not being considered by others. It’s like when I am abroad and people hear I am a North African and ask if I am from Tunisia and when I say no they say then Morocco?
So I remembered the Algerian flag which we can see in all the world’s stadiums and more and more during sports competitions other than football games, and wondered if this wasn’t more than a display of Algerians’ attachment to their country. Perhaps it is a way to seek acknowledgement from the rest of the world. Perhaps we feel that our country’s position and value in the world is not deserved and should be much higher, and all of us in our own ways try to change it.
At the IMA’s Tunisia exhibition, there was a wall where visitors were invited to share their feelings. Most messages were of encouragement, pride and hope; but I could read some odd ones such as “Algerie mon amour”, “je suis fiere de toi mon Algerie”, “MCA chnaoua” and “Vive USMH”.
You must have observed, this post and my reflection weren’t really elaborated. It’s because, in actual facts, I do not give a monkey of what the rest of the world thinks. Dezzou m3ahoum :)