Are Algerians self-confident?

Pfuel was one of those hopelessly and immutably self-confident men, self-confident to the point of martyrdom as only Germans are, because only Germans are self-confident on the basis of an abstract notion- science, that is, the supposed knowledge of absolute truth. A Frenchman is self-assured because he regards himself personally, both in mind and body, as irresistibly attractive to men and women. An Englishman is self-assured, as being a citizen of the best-organized state in the world, and therefore as an Englishman always knows what he should do and knows that all he does as an Englishman is undoubtedly correct. An Italian is self-assured because he is excitable and easily forgets himself and other people. A Russian is self-assured just because he knows nothing and does not want to know anything, since he does not believe that anything can be known. The German’s self-assurance is worst of all, stronger and more repulsive than any other, because he imagines that he knows the truth- science- which he himself has invented but which is for him the absolute truth.

This excerpt is from Leo Tolstoy‘s War and Peace, and I remember that when I read it I immediately thought Tolstoy didn’t know us Algerians for he would’ve mentioned us otherwise. While smiling at my own thought, I questioned it and wondered whether we are self-confident or not.

Impossible is not French is a famous quote allegedly said by Napoleon I and which illustrates the alleged French self-confidence. I tried to think of a similar quote on Algerian self-confidence and I remembered some such as “Vive hna“, “les algériens rassa elli khallat fina bassa” or “les algériens des kamikazes“. I know these may not fit well but this is all I could find… Do not hesitate to suggest other sayings.

Let’s consider that we, as a people, are self-confident and try to find out the reasons behind this feeling. I’ll come back to this hypothesis later.

Nif (no need to add Algerian to it as nif is essentially and exclusively Algerian) is probably the major source of our self-confidence. It defines us and is the origin and the end of our actions. Everything we do is because of it and to preserve it. Nif being a positive value, everything we do is necessarily positive and justified. With nif on our side, even our mistakes become positive.

Nif is tightly related to redjla (see links here and here). We are real MEN, even our women are real MEN. Dargaz like the Arabs among us say (d argaz means a man, argaz being the Amazigh word for man, men being irgazen). It is not necessary to say more, I hope you get it, being manly means acting manly, fearless, brave, honourable, etc.

Self-confidence comes from the above but also from other aspects, historical this time.
The first being our origin. We are Imazighen (plural of Amazigh) and as we’ve been taught, Amazigh means ‘free man’. And it is something in our genes (d’origine). We cannot be ripped off. This reason alone is enough to make us proud free men. And free as they were, our ancestors proved it several times by kicking all the invaders’ asses.

The second point is interesting because it is at the same time the expression and a source of our self-confidence. The 1.5 million martyrs and our war of independence. So my dear friends, go free yourselves from a powerful state and sacrifice a million and a half men and women before you dare argue with us.

I won’t go further, I could have mentioned the fact we managed to go through the black decade.

I am personally assured of our self-confidence and because of it I have no problem with those who might think otherwise. I am even going to question it.

I wrote in a previous post that we couldn’t care less about the fact the world doesn’t acknowledge us. Caring would mean not being self-confident. But do we really not care?

It is admitted that not being in control weakens self-assurance. And we, as a people, haven’t had control over things in our country, and let’s not mention the world, for a long time. How could we still be self-confident?

Also, self-confidence (on an individual level) is defined as having a positive and realistic self-image. This enabling one to try hard against any problems, handle criticism and show affection. How does this match with the Algerian character? Poorly I know.

At the end of War and Peace, Tolstoy describes Napoleon’s self-confidence as childish and bold. This kind of self-confidence, built on “a psychological trick, a mirage”,  doesn’t allow us to be pragmatic and does therefore prevent us from reaching our goals.

True self-confidence must be displayed in our behaviour, actions and achievements. We must be realistic and develop our skills (and our country’s present and future). Until then, we still have our nif and our History to boast about. Read this article on an alleged exchange between Algerian ambassador in Egypt and Qatari foreign affairs minister and watch this Youtube video with famous Algerian journalist Yahia Abu Zakaria in his usual populist monologues. The video is funny and funnier is its title “differences between Algerians and Arabs, humbly“.


9 thoughts on “Are Algerians self-confident?

  1. Thank you for this post, this comes at a perfect time, I was and am facing this very question at present.

    What you describe though MnarviDZ are not the attributes of self-confidence, they are those of pride. As the Oxford Dictionary would have it, Pride is “1) a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired, and 2) consciousness of one’s own dignity”. I particularly like 2) and think it fits us rather well (martyrs, fight against colonialism and all that).

    Oh, and Pride isn’t a negative attribute, only excess Pride is. Pride is negative in the Arabic tradition when it is takabbur, but when it is 3izz (mu3tazz) it is very positive. I’ve always found it amusing that in my DZ bubble, we sweet-name children 3zizou (the strong, the mighty), it is strength and honor that DZeans cherish 🙂 Btw, what are the loving terms you or your immediate family use MnarviDZ to call children? What does pride reference for the Imazighen I wonder…

    Self-confidence on the other hand is defined as “a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement”. And looking around me the past few weeks, it suddenly dawned on me that the Algerians I know are not self-confident, they lack trust in their own ability or quality or judgement. Not even those who benefit from ma3rifa or are financially well-off are self-confident going by that definition. These trust in the ability of their connections and of what money can provide, if only for a short time, but under the surface all, regardless of social circumstances (employed, unemployed, students, rentiers), backgrounds, language, region, seem deeply affected by doubt and by a great mistrust. Mistrust in whom?

    • Thanks NG for your comment.

      I agree pride (excess of it), dignity and honour is probably what characterizes us most. And yes, the four items I mentioned above are all related to pride. But I think they are sources for self-confidence at the same time. Like you know the war of independence not only makes us feel proud but also makes us believe we could achieve the hardest things.

      In the second part, I spoke more of self-confidence and, just like you said, it looks like we’re not so self-confident after all. Mainly because we’re not rational (and accurate) in evaluating our capabilities in my opinion. And yes mistrust grew bigger…

      As for your question, well a3ziz and ta3zizth are very common; and they’re even used with everyone (not just close family) in the city of Bejaia. Regarding children, I can think of ahawash/tahawashth (can’t find the exact translation, close to treasure or something you save/cherish) and I heard some use an old Kabyle term aguerrouj (treasure). There are many others, people have a lot of imagination 🙂

      PS: I think you should try to know different Algerians 🙂

  2. The funny is we remeber our nif only when it comes with arabs and middle easterns. I remember a lot of french bastards giving us the finger on air and nobody had a feedback on that. I wonder what happens if it came from an egyptian?! How about a saudi? I bet we will start invading calling for jihad a la um durman.
    I am sick sorry!

  3. My answer to the question “Are Algerians self-confident?” is a thousand resounding No’s. I find Algerians to be almost paranoid individuals, they are always suspecting some sinister plot againts themselves, even in family relationships or between colleagues. What you spoke of as mistrust. I don’t think anyone can be self-confident and simultaneously mistrust everyone. Of course when it comes to lip service, we are champions, but who cares what we say when all our actions (or I should say reactions, because we never act) scream that we are pathetic paranoid lunatics.

    Perhaps at some level, we are still convinced that we are worth something, but it has become a myth, it has always been a myth in fact which was constructed purposefully to serve the war of liberation. As a nation, we’ve been so brainwashed by this myth that even now, we cling to this fading conviction but at the same time we are experience destabilizing self-doubts. Like the Americans who were perplexed by the 9/11 attacks, their national myth is that they are a savior nation, here to save humanity and bring light to it, they started asking: “Why do they hate us so much?” They couldn’t understand how anybody could hate such a noble nation.

    Same with us, nobody believes in our national myths but us.Whevever we are confronted by the bitter truth/ reality, we are bewildered and then we accuse others of jealousy and conspiracies. We are still deeply sat in the mythical age.

  4. @normalized
    You are right, we do not act consistently, or perhaps following some fuzzy logics.
    Please be confidently sorry instead 🙂

    Are you saying that nobody believes in the country of the million and a half martyrs, the revolutionaries’ Mecca, the country that vinquished terrorism, the most united and proudest country in the world, etc? I write these and think of the comments I read in Echourouk and co. Some might suicide if you read what you’re saying!

    • Yes MnarviDZ, nobody but algerians themselves believe this. And even algerians have severe doubts about it, to which they react by affirming that they are convinced about their worth. Typical of people who badly lack self-confidence.

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