This is a follow-up and synthesis of the comments posted in response to my previous post. I quite enjoyed the various comments which were posted and I think that, together, they do depict a multidimensional structure of what ‘independence’ means to us as Algerians in light of what happened afterwards. Obviously, every single Algerian will have a different answer to this question and different factors will enter into play (age being perhaps the most important). But I think the themes that emerged from the contributions of our readers do span at least a portion of how ‘independence’ might be constructed within the Algerian psyche (I guess of a certain age-group). I think that all Algerians agree that independence was (is even! ;)) a good/ positive thing. As Chatnoir put it, independence put an end to the slaps directed at the Algerian face. An end to a 130-year humiliation. The Algerian people awakened to Continue reading
I was stuck in traffic the other day and I saw this on the back of a truck:
And I thought of the type of questions they used to ask us in high school in philosophy:
“حلل و ناقش“
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
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
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.