Many Algerian writers, too many of them in my opinion, concentrate in their writings on two specific periods: the colonisation/war of independence and the nineties, the black decade.
And I got fed up with them. This is why I was glad when I found Maissa Bey‘s novel “Blue White Green“. The novel relates a story which takes place between 1962 and 1992.
I actually don’t know what to think of it. I rarely appreciate novels written by Algerian (but not only) female writers. Whenever I read one I get the feeling it’s written by a woman for a feminine readership, unlike novels written by men which are suitable for both genders.
Anyway, the novel is written in the same style as “Voices“. Maissa Bey uses her two main characters, Lilas and Ali, to narrate the story. Each their turn. It starts in 1962 with a girl and a boy and evolves with them as they grow up, love each other, get married, have their child, and ends in 1992. Continue reading →
I have shared in a previous post a list of the Algerian English blogs I knew. Today I am going to share links to another category, blogs owned by Algerian women. And as this category is bigger than the blogs written in English, I will only give links to the blogs I follow.
So here they are with no particular order.
Salima Ghezali is an Algerian journalist and you can read her editorials here. She doesn’t really have a blog but I am mentioning her because I consider her weekly audio editorials on Medi1 Radio as blog posts.
I first heard of Hanin Omar in 2007 in the “Princes of Poets” TV show. She is one of Algeria’s new generation poets, many of whom write in Arabic and some in French. She was born in Oran in 1984 (I am not very sure about the year) and, besides being a poet, she is a medical doctor.
In one of her interviews, she said that she started writing poetry at the age of 9 when she came across a poetry book, read one of Nizar Qabbani‘s poems and tried to copy him. She likes to call herself “the pupil of Nizar Qabbani”, while some do call her “words fairy” or “poetry Cinderella”. Don’t ask me why.
Unwritten languages face many threats. They could of course disappear, and when they have people trying to save them, as it is the case with Kabyle, they still face the threat of losing all or part of the cultural patrimony they carry.
Some Kabyles nowadays speak in French or Algerian dardja, and many do speak Kabyle but mixed with so many Arabic or French words that you wouldn’t recognise it. Several Kabyle words are therefore not used any more.
But it is not just words that disappear. Poems and proverbs tend to be forgotten as well. A great-aunt of mine, aged 103, lost her 16 yo and 18 yo sons who died as martyrs in the early days of the Algerian Revolution. I think she never recovered from her loss and she used to sing many poems dedicated to them and to the war in general. Unfortunately nobody did learn or record them, and they will probably disappear the time she will leave us. Continue reading →
PoF already links to some Algerian blogs. Those among them which I added are there because I like them, without necessarily agreeing with them, and also because their scopes are related to our preferred topics. Another condition is that they must be relatively active.
In this post I am adding a list of the Algerian blogs in English which I have in my reader. Continue reading →
Several years ago, an Algerian newspaper reported that some Western secret service, which I cannot remember, had posted an ad to hire its new director. I remember I found the news “funny” as I thought of Algerian DRS. I mean nobody expects such a move from the DRS especially when you know that no more than two pictures of its current director, General Toufik, are publicly available.
Everyone in Algeria knows the DRS but most of this knowledge is based on interpretation, interpolation, extrapolation, imagination… Basically everything but proven facts – you’d say it’s normal as their activities are supposed to be well secret. Just browse the internet and you’ll find so many theories on how the DRS clan(s) rule(s) the country. Continue reading →
The topic Fatema Bakhai treats in Izuran (Roots) is not common in Algerian literature. She decided to revisit Algerians’ history from the beginning Neolithic to the fall of the Regency of Algiers through a historical fiction. This novel can therefore be read in conjunction with late Algerian historian Mahfoud Kaddache‘s excellent “Algerians’ Algeria“.
The book comes in three volumes (and the author said there wouldn’t be a fourth), and I’ve only read the first one “Izuran, in the country of the free men” which ends at the fall of Carthage in hands of the Muslims but I cannot wait to read the other two.
Fatema Bakhai, in a very good storyteller style, chose to go through this time period by relating the stories of the members of the same family through several generations. So we get to know very interesting, smart, courageous people such as Red Hair, Black Curls, Ayye, Amestan, Tirman, Tiziri, Amadeus ending up with Amzagh.
About Boumediene, Alistair Horne wrote in his “A savage war of peace: Algeria 1954-1962” book “in his secretiveness and retiring modesty [Boumediene] is most characteristically Algerian”. He added “in his rare interviews with writers and journalists [Boumediene] steadfastly declines to discuss the war, or his role in it”. We indeed do not know much about Algeria’s most important president’s role during the war. His real national appearance during the revolution was when he presided the jury that condemned the colonels (Lamouri and co.) who, encouraged by Nasser, had planned to kill the three Bs (Belkcem, Boussouf and Bentobal) and overthrow the GPRA. But we know little of Boumediene’s life when he was working with Boussouf.
Boumediene visiting Ifri
We do not know much either about Boumediene’s life after Algeria’s independence. Taleb‘s book helps shed some light on the 1965 to 1978 period. I’ve already written about the first two parts of Volume II. Today I write some words on the third part of this book. Continue reading →
Two days ago Algeria has celebrated the 40th anniversary of the hydrocarbons’ nationalisations. Last year’s celebrations coincided with Sonatrach’s latest known of financial scandal which led, among other things, to the dismissal of one of Bouteflika’s best friends, Chakib Khelil. Things are different this year. Khelil’s successor, Youcef Yousfi, held the celebrations in Hassi Messaoud; and the city’s youths also celebrated the event by blocking the access to the oil plants. They demanded a share in the jobs that are created by the oil exploitation activity. Though the problem is more complex, it cannot be denied that the people of Southern Algeria are not the biggest beneficiaries of the hydrocarbons industry.
This anniversary triggered the idea of this post. A review of a book which talks of this very special and unique period of independent Algeria which witnessed this great achievement.
Ahmed Taleb-Ibrahimi‘s last political appearance in Algeria was in 1999 as a candidate to the presidential elections. He was then portrayed by some of his opponents as a retrograde Islamist who would gather former FIS sympathisers and replace the dissolved party (his party, WAFA, was never approved by the system). This accusation was backed by at least three points: he was supported by Mohand Said, he was Bachir Ibrahimi‘s son and he was Boumediene‘s minister of education when the Arabization process had started. Then Taleb, along all the other candidates opposing Bouteflika, withdrew his candidacy because it became clear that the system had already chosen Algeria’s current president. This withdrawal led Bouteflika’s supporters and many observers to accuse him and the other candidates of executing the DRS’s plan, the aim of which being to reduce Bouteflika’s influence after his plebiscite. Another attempt to candidacy in the 2004 elections wasn’t approved by Zerhouni’s services. Since then, Taleb decided to put an end to his political activities and dedicate his time to writing his memoirs. Continue reading →