A thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. This is the definition the dictionary gives for distraction.
Everyone uses distractions. Parents do distract their children when they become bothersome. Teachers do the same with their pupils. But those with cunning and most dangerous distraction strategies are probably the politicians. Whether in domestic and foreign affairs, distractions are an important tool to pass laws, hide information or even invade a country. Politicians are even able to use clustered distractions where A is used to prevent from noticing B which in turn is used to distract from thinking of C. Oumelkheir gives an example here.
As usual, and because Algeria’s
recent history is still unknown to most of its people, subjects related to the past are the best distractions one could find in our country. They are fertile topics creating storms of (sterile) discussions and debates which will lead nowhere before they vanish leaving the place to new distractions.
I have a passion for history and, like many of my nationals, I am generally interested in anything related to Algeria’s past and most specifically to the pre and post-independence period. This makes me one of the potential (and easy?) victims of Algeria’s preferred distractions.
These past two weeks were packed with these “historical distractions”, and let’s admit it, I very happily decided to drown in them and forget everything else. I did it not only because of my passion but also because I got tired of Algeria’s real issues and needed to be distracted. This probably explains why I remained silent on this blog for weeks and why I post today with this very topic.
So back to our recent distractions. Interestingly one alone was apparently judged insufficient so we got a group of them so everyone is kept busy. Yacef Saadi, the controversial Battle of Algiers’ hero, declared that he had never worked with Louisette Ighilahriz and cannot testify of her being a moudjahida. The press talked a lot about it and the poor Ighilahriz had to find the still alive among her companions who confirmed (for the Nth time as this wasn’t the first time she’s accused of lying) that she had worked with the FLN during the Battle of Algiers.
Before this was over, Algeria’s former president and liberation leader, Ahmed Benbella, gives an interview to Jeune Afrique in which he launches several distraction missiles. It’s like fireworks spreading everywhere and forcing the people to look in their direction. He reminds every one of the grudge he still holds against Abane, he talks of Bouteflika’s celibacy (as if we cared), of Ait-Ahmed whom he classifies as “more Kabyle, less Algerian” and of Boudiaf who, according to Benbella, was useless at handling arms (Nacer Boudiaf felt the need to defend his father offering a longer life to this distraction). He also reminded everyone that his parents were Moroccan and that his naturalisation was done only in 1962. This of course relaunched the eternal idle talks on the Moroccan origins of the Algerian leaders today and during the war. So well done Mr. Benbella!
I don’t know if these distractions worked well on my fellow Algerians. I see the press and people on-line commenting extensively about them, but did the trick really make the Algerians forget a little about their own and their country’s issues? Hard to tell. At least they made me write these few lines and, who knows, I might write again on less distracting topics…