I have always considered French apology or repentance for what it did in Algeria as a strictly French affair. This is why I haven’t written about Francois Hollande’s visit to Algeria and his recognition of Algerian suffering during the colonial era. Also, the fact everyone I follow on Twitter kept mentioning it that day saturated me.
In a previous post I wrote about how musical taste could be connected to where a person comes from. And a few days ago, while I was looking for something on YouTube, I found a video of an old song from that nice post-October 88 period. The song’s title was “Alash ya babor“, sung by Cheb Aziz, and it dealt with emigration (ghorba), and the babor (boat) as the way to leave the country was used as a symbol.
I don’t know where the word “babor” comes from and why it is used to mean “boat” in Algeria. This link provides some insights; it apparently means “train” in Egypt and some “oil lamp” in Jordan. Though this is not the topic, it again gives an example of how the different Arabic dialects can differ.
Good old Europe is growing worried about the potential consequences of its immigration policies. Old habits die hard: ancient, refined, aristocratic Europe cannot digest well the proliferation of the immigrant hoi polloi who seem to mostly originate from Muslim countries and from the lowest socio-economic classes of these countries on top of that! What’s with those odd looking people who talk in a funny way and whose women wear black overalls and hide their faces! Some alien race is taking over Europe! France is one European country which takes these issues very seriously indeed as proven by current president Sarkozy’s recent initiative to relaunch the debate on what it really means to be French. Apart from the disturbing fact that the French themselves have realized via this ‘national debate’ that even they do not all agree on what it really means to be French (some say it’s about wearing berets and buying baguettes, whereas others hint or sometimes openly threaten that it’s about reconciling being Muslim with the values of the Republic), this initiative seems to have backfired and upset many committed voters who now are not really sure if they’re French or not. Oh mon Dieu! Given that you cannot prove a negative, it is now up to the French to prove they’re French! It would appear that a beret-less head is prone to all sorts of headaches and wind-chills!
The Algerian minister of higher education and scientific research, Mr. Rachid Haraoubia, proudly announced yesterday that 100% of the Algerian students and university teachers who received a state sponsorship during the past five years have returned to Algeria at the end of their studies.
He unfortunately didn’t give any details on these people. What specialities they followed, how long they stayed abroad, etc.? But I believe most of them were university teachers as this has been the trend for the past years. And this might explain the high (perfect) return rate.
Bouteflika decided in 2005 to stop sponsoring the top Algerian students in the baccalaureate exams since only a tiny minority returned home after they graduated. These students were indeed sent to the UK, France and Tunisia with annual costs going up to £20k/year/student in the UK. The laureates are now directed to the newly created Preparatory Classes for the National High Schools (a copy of the famous French CPGE) where they prepare admission exams to the transformed National High Schools. This system does also exist in Tunisia and Morocco with the difference that the Moroccan and Tunisian students are allowed to take the French High Schools exams.
Les Algériens d’Angleterre expertisés: there seems to be a bit of a confusion about the sense of identity of Algerian immigrants in the UK (even those who were born and bred in Algeria). The terrorism decade has traumatized us as a nation, even Algerians who are living in Algeria exhibit the same identity schisms. It will take forever to mend what has been shattered, but I suspect we will have to start by fixing the past before contemplating the future. We desperately need to have a serious look at our history pre- and post- revolution. We also need to have a frank and critical discussion about it.