The purpose of this series of posts, when I started it, was to discuss the francophone/arabophone divide within our élite and how it translated into a belonging ideology. I decided to extend the scope and tackle other aspects.
A few weeks ago, a Tunisian friend of mine told me that politicians in his country were busy discussing whether they were too much or not enough Arab/Berber/Muslim. He said, “we already know who we are so why are they talking of identity, religion and language when the population thinks unemployment, economic crisis and security?” Apparently, Tunisia’s political élite is like ours, but the fact there is an election in one year will perhaps force them (and Ennahdha particularly as they are in charge) to deal with the people’s real concerns and stop with the distractions.
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.
Ait Menguellet is one of the few Algerian artists whose songs accompanied me throughout my life. His music, poetic and witty lyrics are combined with his voice to make a masterpiece out of most of his songs.
In one of the songs, “A mmi” (“My son” in English), he relates a dialogue between a young man and his father. The discussion is about politics and how to become the president of the country. The song, edited on 1983, tells us how age and experience replace noble values such as idealism, altruism, optimism, trust, ambition, etc. with some other values: realism, resignation, distrust, fear, treachery, etc.
And it is said that he got the inspiration for this song from The Prince of Machiavelli.
I borrowed the title of this post from one excellent book by the Turkish Nobel prize Orhan Pamuk, but the post hasn’t much to do with the book.
El Watan published yesterday this article which made me think of this topic. How do our names define our individual identities, and how are they related to the country’s identity?
I went some weeks back to the Algerian consulate to renew my passport. There I saw a fight between a couple and the consulate agents. The couple was composed of an Algerian young man and his European wife. They were there to register their newly born daughter whom they named Melissa. The agents refused to register her because the name had no link with the “Algerian cultural heritage”. One of the agents even reminded the couple of the hadith “خير الاسماء ما حمد وعبد” to encourage them to choose another name for the baby. The hadith is by the way not sahih despite the fact it’s very commonly used. The wife reminded him that she is European and hasn’t changed her name nor religion, and doesn’t see why she would give her daughter a name which is not in her culture. This opens the question of inter-cultural marriages but that’s another topic.
The bottom line is that the Algerian regulation is not clear because the legislators are confused. Proving this is that in my example and after almost one hour, the consulate agents gave up and agreed to register Melissa.