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“.