Mouloud Kacem Nath Belkacem

Mouloud Kacem Nath Belkacem

I remember Mouloud Kacem Nath Belkacem (born January 6, 1927, Ighil-Ali region, Akbou, Bejaia – died 1992, Algiers) had a funny look. You look at him and you think this man is special, he probably has many things in his head. He had the looks of a philosopher, or someone between Einstein and Dr. Emmett Brown. I remember him on the Algerian television, he was seldom calm. These were my impressions whenever I saw him.
And indeed Mouloud Kacem was a philospher, a politician, a scholar and a historian. He spoke at least 7 languages (some say 9) and he wrote some books in German.He was born in a small village near Akbou and there he learnt Quran and studied Arabic and Islamic sciences. He then left to Tunis (Zeitouna) and Cairo where he received a bachelor in philosophy. Then he joined the Sorbonne for doctoral studies (on German philosophers) but soon abandoned them to join the FLN after the Algerian war of independence started in 1954. He became FLN’s and then GPRA’s representative in many European countries.
After independence, Mouloud Kacem worked at the ministry of foreign affairs, in the cabinet of Boumedienne, and as the minister of religious affairs and wakfs.

His achievements are many and I could mention only some. He started the famous Islamic Thinking Conferences which I had been following on TV till they stopped. He was, together with Ahmed Taleb Ibrahimi, one of the biggest actors in the Arabization process. Not to forget his active role within the High Council of Arabic. It is reported that he refused to sign any Algerian official document when written in French. For this reason, Berberists and others consider him a traitor and accuse him of being an opportunistic servant of the state. He founded the Assala (Authenticity) magazine in which he published many old writings by Algerian men.

Moulou Kacem’s work revolved around the Algerian nation, its history and its identity. He named his son Jugurtha (which surprised many) and his daughter Djazair. He was the inventor of the famous Istidmar (destructive action) as a more accurate name for colonisation (isti3mar). He wrote a lot about the existence of the Algerian state before the French occupation; he refused to use the word “regency” when mentioning the “kingdom of Algiers”, etc.

Mouloud Kacem died of cancer in 1992. He and his companions (Malek Bennabi, Abdelaziz Khaldi, etc.) were among the finest Algerian intellectuals of the 20th century.


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