I am not sharing a video this time. Instead I post the below, my own composition :)
I hope you like limericks.
Professor Pierre Chaulet passed away last Friday. He was one of those French men and women who sided with the FLN during the Algerian war. I do usually take my time before writing about a recent event and this is why I am not going to write about this valuable Algerian man. The reader can browse the internet (Algerian news websites and blogs) to find some good tributes.
Instead, I will write a few words on Frantz Fanon‘s book “A dying colonialism“. Note that I didn’t write about the author last year for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of this death. Some good articles have been written last year and the reader could easily find them on-line.
Frantz Fanon was another Frenchman who defended the Algerian cause and sided with the FLN. And it was Pierre Chaulet who introduced him to the revolutionary party in 1955. Unfortunately, he died a few months before the ceasefire was declared. Continue reading
I created this post and, for five long minutes, I didn’t know how to start or what to write. Revolt, revolution, war… Giving a name to an event is not easy, we see it today with the changes in some Arab countries.
57 years ago started one of the most important events in the 20th century. The Algerian revolution had the objective to free the country and its people from French control, to create a sovereign, democratic and social state, and to make sure fundamental liberties are guaranteed for all its inhabitants.
Louis-Philippe cynically declared in 1835, “What difference does it make if a 100,000 rifles fire in Africa. Europe doesn’t hear them”. What a mistake he had made!
56 years ago, a handful of young Algerian militants of the PPA/MTLD decided that it was time to put an end to the French presence in Algeria and break-up the war. They did make not only Europe but the whole world hear Algeria’s voice. Many say Continue reading
The film starts with Ben Boulaid and his countrymen (in the Algerian 11th Regiment Riflemen) fighting in France against the Nazis, and returning injured to Algeria at the end of WWII. Then we’re taken to Batna to see his public and clandestine activities within the PPA and the OS. The film related the events before November 1st, 1954: the meetings of the 22, the discussions with Messali, and the final meeting of the 6 pictured while dissolving the CRUA, choosing the new organisation’s name (the FLN) and also the revolution’s starting day. Then Ben Boulaid is shown as the brave Moudjahid we know of, who leads his troops with intelligence while staying simple and humble. We see him go to Libya to buy some weapons, get arrested and tortured, plot the break out of the Koudia prison, and get back to his commanding position. The film ends with his death after trying to use a booby-trapped radio.
I mentioned in a previous post how the Algerian regime managed to create a perfect history around the Algerian revolution as a whole and for many of the freedom fighters and martyrs as individuals. It is for example amazing that we have two historical versions on Ali Tounsi who was a great moudjahid in one and the worst harki in the other.
Today we are witnessing a different phenomenon with many men criticizing some of the Algerian revolution’s figures. It has been an ongoing trend for some time now but Said Saadi‘s recent book triggered a new storm which, I think, won’t stop any soon.
I haven’t read Saadi’s book, but what I gathered from the Algerian newspapers is that he “used” some archive materials he got from France to prove that colonel Amirouche (and Si Lhaoues, but he doesn’t really care as he was not Kabyle) was killed by the French with the help (or instigation) of both Boussouf and Boumediene. He also, again according to the newspapers, wrote that Krim Belkacem was not involved in the murder of Abane. A Kabyle cannot kill another Kabyle, duh!
Saadi chose to publish his book while Kabylia commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Berber spring, and apparently aimed with his book at gaining (or regaining) some support among the Kabyles. He could as always count on Noureddine Ait-Hamouda as his moral caution. In their fight, the RCD, the FFS, the 3rouche and the MAK don’t hesitate to use any tool to get an advantage over the others, even though the FFS tries to show itself as a national party and not a regional one.
And many people now are retaliating and a snowball effect is ongoing.
Today the world celebrates the end of WWII. Algeria also commemorates 8 May 1945, but for us Algerians, this day was a bloody sad one. Like most of the old world’s populations, the Algerian people wanted to share their happiness after the end of WWII and remind the French colonizer and the other victors that they existed and wanted their freedom back, so they organized some peaceful demonstrations. But France didn’t intend it that way and massacres were perpetrated in many parts of Algeria, especially in Setif, Guelma and Kherrata.
So the commemoration of these events is a good way so nobody forgets the past and how dearly paid was our independence. The commemoration should also remind France and the world of the ugliness and inhumanity of the colonisation system. These last years’ talks between Algeria and France, and the more recent questions which arouse in France around the “Outside of the law” movie, show that we probably need more frequent and stronger reminders if we want to convince everybody.
Having said this, I would like to deal with another aspect of these events.
In a recent program on AlJazeera, Algerian Djahid Younsi (from El-Islah party) and Libyan Elhadi Chellouf (a martyr’s son) debated over the “Why do the Arabs request an apology? And aren’t the Arab rulers worse than the colonisers?” question. As often with AlQasim’s programs, the debate led nowhere. Chellouf said that the colonisation was great and he would be happy to sit in a French or Italian tank were they to invade the Arab countries again. He added that the Arab populations should rather request an apology from their rulers instead of targeting the gentle and kind colonisers. On the other hand, Younsi admitted that the Arab rulers are the worst ever, but he said they should be faced on the political field. And this situation shouldn’t prevent the people from requesting the rightful apology for the confirmed colonisation crimes.
In this article, Mr. Mohammed Larbi Dmagh Elatrousse (former culture minister) declares that he won’t write his memoirs because he doesn’t want to talk about sensitive subjects which would tarnish the history of our revolution. He also says that only a tiny part of what has been written so far (he means all the books written by former freedom fighters) is true, and the rest is nothing but lies (he of course doesn’t tell us which are the lies).
The corollary to this would be that Mr. Dmagh Elatrousse believes the Algerian revolution (and before it the national movement) was perfect, and that our martyrs and freedom fighters were perfect too. Or maybe he thinks it’s better for the Algerian people to believe so.
And it was indeed what the Algerian regime had always wanted us to believe. The Algerian school taught us about an idealised revolution with idealised and united men and women whose only goal was to retrieve Algeria’s sovereignty.
Some “details” such as the Emir Khaled, Messali Hadj, Ferhat Abbas, Messalists vs. Centralists, Mellouza, Bellounis and the MNA, Abane’s assassination, Ait-Ahmed and Oulhadj’s revolt, and many others were kept secret. The school books also didn’t mention the French army’s sub-officers or the secret clauses in the Evian accords.
Even the very existence of Mohammed Boudiaf was a discovery for a number of independence-generation Algerians despite him being a member of the group of the six.
I was reading a reply by the millitant communist André Ferrat to a ‘study’ which appeared in trotskyist review “La lutte de classe” in 1935 (that’s 75 years ago!). The ‘study’ in question was entitled “Les problèmes révolutionnaires de l’Algérie” and although I have not read it, it would appear from the response it provoked from Mr. Ferrat that it was an attempt to discredit the Algerian symptoms of the looming national revolution by resorting to a ‘pedantic’ analysis whose only concern was to produce a confused and self-contraditory ‘theoretical magma’. Reading this article, I was amused to find the same old and eternal arguments and the same old eternal replies to them. These arguments are still used today by the likes of Israel and the USA (and even some representatives of the ‘oppressed people’) and presented as ‘studies’ and ‘analyses’ of the palestinian and Islamic terrorism respectively. What also amused me in this article, is that the commies did not seem to all have the same interpretation of what Marx or Lenin had said or written. Reminded me of the recent financial crash and how the economists of the various schools started having a go at each other, each claiming that they detain the right interpretation of capitalist or socialist theories of the distribution of wealth. Nearly a century has passed since the publication of this exchange of ideas, everything seems to have changed so much, and yet, in the end, nothing has really changed.
I include here some excerpts from the article which have reminded me of post-modern arguments we have all heard from politicians in the context of the various violent conflicts which are taking place in the world today. Take excerpt A for example: Continue reading