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.
I believe every big event, whether happy or sad, should be taken as an opportunity to see if/how it could be used to trigger something positive in the society. The massacres of 8 May 1945 created so much sadness in the Algerian people’s hearts as they caused the death of tens of thousands, and also brought a big disappointment to those who believed in the New World Order’s claims of liberty, or in the word of colonialist France. However, if we look at the outcome of these bloody days, we will of course see the tightening of the colonial regime and the hardening of the Algerian people’s life. But we will also find that these events helped many hesitant Algerians and convinced them that only a war would recover Algeria’s independence. So these events actually reinforced the nationalist movement (despite French harassment) and made it easier for the population to accept the idea of a war and sacrifice.
Those “integrationist” and “assimilationist” Algerians finally understood that France was playing games and had no intention of giving more rights to the Algerians. Obviously, this wasn’t simple and it took 9 years before the Liberation War was launched, and even more before many Algerian elites decided to join it.
So the 1954-1962 Liberation War was the positive outcome of the 8 May 1945 massacres opportunity. But were there other opportunities in the recent past of Algeria? My answer to the question is yes, some were big and others smaller; but unfortunately, all of them have been missed and wasted.
The first one I could think of is obviously our independence. We had 10 million Algerians who gave their lives in order to free the country and who were ready to continue should the war have lasted longer. Which tells of the level of energy, will, motivation and dedication the Algerian leaders had in their hands. They could direct all this energy to the peaceful war of building the country and taking it to a higher position, but no such thing happened. Our leaders started fighting for power (even before the end of the war) and didn’t seem to have a clear plan of where they wanted to take Algeria.
That was the first missed opportunity. Others at the national level could have been Boumediene’s 1965 coup or the October 1988 events, but our present situation proves these two opportunities have been missed too.
The 90s decade was too hard for the Algerians and it destroyed not only the security, political and economic fields of Algeria but it also ravaged the Algerian society and psyche. It is hard to think of it as an opportunity even if the fact we resisted it and have been able to slowly get to a normal life is such an achievement that it should be used as a construction foundation. This achievement indeed proved the strength of the population despite the for-long-visible damages. But within this decade, I have the feeling that it was only when the GIA resorted to mass killings that most Algerians decided to choose a side and participate in the fight against the terrorists. I remember hearing fellow Algerians say it was ok to kill the representatives of the regime (be them ministers, policemen, soldiers, journalists or teachers), but many changed their mind after the mass-massacres, and even engaged as patriots or GLDs. So, whether those massacres were perpetrated by the GIA or remotely ordered by the army as claimed by the adepts of the famous “Qui Tue Qui”, they were an opportunity which helped the Algerians get off this bloody decade.
Another missed opportunity was after the death of Guermah Massinissa. The Kabyles could have used their feelings and apparent unity to develop their region and improve it. Instead all they did was creating la3rouch who led them nowhere, and they kept rioting and destroying their cities. Today Kabylia is living in such an anarchy (bigger than elsewhere in Algeria), and criminality has reached unprecedented levels. And let’s not mention the stupid MAK (who just formed their government).
The last wasted chance is a combination and succession of three events: The second Iraqi war, the increase of oil prices and the NT’s qualification for the 2010 World Cup. These events led to an increased monetary reserves volume and a sort of motivation/unity of the Algerian people. The government launched some big infrastructures programs which don’t seem to bring more than 1 to 2 points of annual growth while leading to the greatest levels of corruption. But it also used this money to import more (and useless) goods, and it doesn’t seem to do anything to create/revive a production activity in Algeria. The football game was used for cheap political purposes and I don’t even want to talk of the baccalaureate date change to allow the students to watch the WC games. Then this money combined with our recent discovery of Sudan (after the match in Um Darman) led our rulers to the brilliant idea of buying (not surprising I know) meat from our Sudanese brethren.
It can be seen that there are more missed opportunities than successful ones. The Arab world had also some missed opportunities like the 1967 or 1973 wars. But are there not things we can do so we wouldn’t miss the upcoming opportunities? Or more, are there not things we could do to create these opportunities?