Algeria, a deserted country

It’s been almost two months now since Bouteflika has left Algeria, two months that the country lives without a president. There are contradictory rumours about his come back before July 5th, Algeria’s independence anniversary, or before the beginning of Ramadhan. Nothing is sure and it looks like the president has deserted the country.

Our friend eljin commented on a previous post here and said, “So what can ordinary people do? Flee the country or die hard.” And I feel this is what most of us did or try to do. I am not speaking of dying hard; it is fleeing – I prefer leaving but fleeing may be more accurate, the country that I am concerned with.

I left Algeria a long time ago. It was to pursue my studies but the fact is that I have settled abroad despite the tight links I have with my country and my people. Many Algerians did the same or dream of doing the same. This is not what I am going to speak about, our situation is clear, we’re away. My point is about those who are still in Algeria without being there.

The ruling category of our people has deserted the country. It lives in ghettos isolated from the rest of the population and its concerns, it works to achieve goals which are not always for the good of the country and it doesn’t seem to care about Algeria’s interests. I would be glad if this category does desert the country for real.

The problem is with the rest. I was reading this article about Cuban ophthalmologists who work in Algeria, in remote parts of Algeria more precisely. Places deserted by Algerian doctors who want to work in the North. But even in the North, Algerian doctors have deserted and stopped doing their job properly. Algeria’s health sector is a calamity, people needed to know someone to be taken care of, and now knowing somebody is not enough and the people have to empty their purse before they can be treated.

Teachers have also deserted. A teacher I know told me that during the last baccalaureate exams, the examination centre director asked all the teachers to let the pupils cheat. Speaking of Algeria’s education sector could take me a whole life so I’ll just link to some previous posts here. And let’s not get started about research.

Pupils have deserted as well. Studying is no longer a priority. They go to school and university for God knows what reasons but it is certainly not to learn.

Imams have deserted. They don’t seem to care any more about whether the people listen to them or not. Being an imam is now just a job. They come, lead the prayer, give their sermon and go back to whatever they do in their offices.

The intellectuals have deserted as well. These have deserted since such a long time that one feels they’ve never been in. One may doubt they ever existed. The new TV channel, Atlas TV, will apparently dedicate a program to our élite. I cannot wait, I am curious to know who they are and what they do.

I could go on mentioning all the professional categories. Just look at the products manufactured in Algeria and how bad most of them are. Nobody cares any more about their job or about doing it properly.

Algeria became a dirty country. Cleanliness has deserted it too. And in this case, the people did worse than just deserting, which may at best be qualified as a neutral position. They are having a negative role as they seem to do their best to win the prize for the dirtiest country in the world.
I remember an article where the journalist argued that using any outdoors space as a recycle bin is a way for Algerians to show that they deserted the country, that they left it to the rulers and couldn’t care less. The journalists said it’s the people’s way to show their resistance and defiance to the ruling powers.

I obviously disagree, but this reminded me of how the Algerian people reacted to the French occupation. I read somewhere that when Emir Abdelkader surrendered to the French he apparently said that it was time for the people to stop fighting and start surviving. I don’t know if this is true. Algerians didn’t stop fighting but their survival period had indeed started. They turned their back to the colonizer, ignored it and left what would have been a normal life. Some thought this was resilience, others said it was the way they resisted till they became able to do it differently in 1954.

If this theory is correct then I wonder when the people will stop their desertion and come back to life. I know some still resist in a positive way, some do work with conscientiousness, some would prefer to die than cheat or make use of corruption, some just try to give the best education to their children, etc. This means there is still hope but I am afraid this won’t be enough unless the rest, the deserters, decide to be active again, to work for their own, their people and their country’s well-being.
The longer this desertion lasts the more difficult it gets to recover.


10 thoughts on “Algeria, a deserted country

  1. Calling the people who left ‘deserters’ is not a productive way to reconnect with them.

    Many countries are affected by this phenomenon esp. since the global economic crisis, including in Europe. For example, London is now one of the biggest ‘French’ city in the EU (it could be the 4th or the 6th French City).

    Some countries take the issue very seriously and created NGOs to keep alive the connections with their Diaspora, hoping to reap economic, scientific and cultural benefits.

  2. I have the same informations from people who were directly involved in the organisation of the exams… Pupils are on holidays since may even if the year is supposed to finish by the end of june etc.
    I don’t know why exactly but I feel that the situation is very dangerous. If you allow me this football metaphor, the situation is like when the ball is wavering in your zone and the defensive line seem to be hestitating and you feel that a goal against your team is not far.

    I hope I’m wrong.

    • Yes and a 10 to 0 score is likelier than 1 to 0.
      My sister told me a pupil wanted her to let him cheat, and he showed her his mother’s photo and said “It’s not for me, it’s for her, so she can be happy, Please!”
      And a few weeks ago I met with one of my lycee teachers. The man kept complaining about the new generation teachers and pupils altogether, I listened to him for 2 hours. The situation as he described it was depressing.

      • I’ve heard the same. Some teachers have told me the admin also asks them to give pupils grades that will let them pass. One student never showed up for class. As the grade is attendance based, my cousin was going to give him 0. But the administration forced her to give that pupil a 10/20 so that he could pass to the next year.

        Some teachers also have turned their teaching into a business, offering private tuition to increase their earnings. It is only during those private classes that they give descent classes and info, making a point of giving rubbish classes at school/college/uni. Needless to say that it is the students who pay who will get bloated grades for official exams. There is also a frightening amount of rashwa being handed out.

        I think that the education for the 6-25 years-olds is well and truly destroyed. I’m not sure what kind of reflex this will have engendered for them when they become parents but as you both say, it is dangerous.

  3. Well, perhaps the answer is in your post? It is not like algerians to take an active stance and do something, they are more likely to just ignore everything and ‘resist’ by doing nothing or worse, acting negatively in such a way as to take revenge on the entity which they consider to be their enemy (which is how they reason in their minds for example when they throw garbage on the street or steal public money or destroy public infrastructure). Then comes a time when they explode (or implode) and then the process starts all over again.

    Or perhaps not. As the Matrix is also evolving around us and it is getting smarter.

    • I wish this was true! Read this article… Do you think these pupils “resist” when they demonstrate because they have been caught cheating? I say it is imploding already…

      Plusieurs dizaines de candidats malheureux au baccalauréat ont manifesté, ce lundi 1er juillet, à la place Audin au centre-ville d’Alger avant d’être dispersés par la police, a-t-on constaté sur place. « Nous avons marché de l’Office national des examens et des concours (Onec) à Télémly jusqu’ici »,

      indique Mourad, qui a échoué à l’épreuve. « Nous revendiquons notre droit au baccalauréat ».

      Comme la majorité des manifestants, Mourad fait partie des candidats de la branche littéraire. Il a passé les épreuves du baccalauréat à Staouali, à l’ouest de la capitale, où des lycéens ont protesté lors de l’épreuve de philosophie contre le sujet proposé avant de commencer à frauder en groupe. « J’ai consulté les résultats sur Internet : ils ne donnent aucun détail sur les notes obtenus. A côté du nom, on trouve seulement : “cas de tricherie” », s’insurge une jeune candidate venue, elle aussi, de Staouali.

      Certains candidats ont été accompagnés par leurs parents. « Ils ont travaillé tout au long de l’année », lance une mère. « A l’office, personne n’a daigné sortir pour nous voir », regrette-t-elle. Les manifestants ont été malmenés par la police, selon les témoignages de certains d’entre eux.

      A la fin des examens du baccalauréat, plusieurs syndicats autonomes de l’éducation nationale ont exigé une commission d’enquête et des « sanctions sévères » contre les candidats coupables de tricheries après les incidents enregistrés dans certains centres d’examens. Dans un communiqué rendu public ce lundi, le Conseil des lycées d’Algérie (CLA) a appelé le ministère de l’Éducation nationale à « agir vite » et « donner en exemple ceux qui ont osé tricher ». « La décision de l’Onec de sanctionner les fraudeurs, si tout le monde est inscrit à la même enseigne, est tout à son honneur pour préserver la crédibilité de cet examen, l’un des rares encore valable », a-t-il ajouté.

  4. ”…L’un des rares encore valable”.
    Au pays des aveugles… Voici trois périodes clés du vécu d’un déserteur malgré lui. C’est long à la mesure du processus d’extinction des espèces!
    1964, fut l’année de mon bac. Durant le dernier quart d’heure de la dernière heure de cours avant l’épreuve fatidique, mon excellent professeur de physique-chimie (une espèce ‘enta3 el h’djer oua n’djar’ disparue) nous fit un discours d’encouragement. Un élève du fond de la classe osa lui dire : «Monsieur! il y a aussi la chance! » Réplique du prof : « la chance ne peut se manifester si vous ne faites pas d’efforts, allez! vous êtes la dernière promotion à peu prés valable! » furent ses derniers mots. Ainsi nous étions déjà une autre espèce en voie de disparition.

    1974 fut ma première année d’expérience en tant qu’enseignant assistant à l’université Rue Didouche Mourad. À ma première participation dans un jury de passage, je fus choqué d’apprendre que le compte n’y étant pas, il fallait repêcher autant d’étudiants que nécessaire pour atteindre le taux de succès exigé par les bureaucrates. J’ai refusé de participer à la naissance d’une nouvelle espèce et j’ai ‘’quitté’’ l’université pour travailler dans l’industrie. Ce fut ma deuxième désertion. Ma première désertion fut quand j’avais préféré aller à l’université au lieu d’aller enseigner comme nous le conseilla notre autre excellent prof de philo. Jeune et vaniteux, je croyais que l’Algérie aurait besoin d’ingénieurs.

    1985, bravant la perte de mon logement de fonction, j’ai (encore) ‘’quitté’’ ou déserté l’industrie, devenue un parc de j’en-foutre (UGTA) et un véritable gouffre financier (Tawzi3 el ar’bah!), pour aller dans la formation professionnelle. Là, j’y ai découvert, pardonnez moi l’analogie scabreuse, une prostituée. Tous ceux qui avaient un moindre pouvoir ou une influence quelconque ici ou là, obtenaient ses faveurs. En même temps, les bureaucrates avaient la main sur les contrats d’équipements et les accords de coopération avec l’étranger (Pays de l’Est). Je vous laisse imaginer le pillage en règle des ressources financière du pays. Des équipements usagés ou repris de la casse puis maquillés, des coopérants doublés d’interprètes. J’aurai aimé avoir quelques porteurs de nif autour de moi.
    Les évènements de Tizi Ouzou, Sétif et Constantine de 1986 furent le dernier appel, puis 1988 et la débâcle qui en découla m’ont contraints cette fois à ‘’fuir’’ le pays. Ce fut là l’ultime désertion.

    ‘’Just in time’’ before the bloody 90’s. As one of my relatives, a wealthy lawyer, put it: ‘they [we the ultimate deserters] had the courage of their cowardice’’.

    Well! At the beginning, for too many and not just some, the ultimate desertion was indeed not an option. Over time though, those who were too many have become few, and then very few! Too few now! I have real doubts whether such a disaster could be overcome some day. But a miracle and a lucky streak can happen sometimes. That majority of non deserters that is now wandering like a flock has to stop wading all over.

    • Courage or cowardice have nothing to do with it. It’s just the way things are. People who stayed or those who left, did it because they either had no choice or had the choice.

      • Quite fair! The last sentence of my comment expresses my bitterness. Some broken hearts never recover and I had dismissed my relative’s comment. Ironically his daughter also fled 10 years later.
        Anyway, this desertion business like Mnarvi put it, is sustainable. Sadly. It is strange how sometimes things happen almost simultaneously.
        Two days ago, a close friend who is also Algerian, has a daughter who has got lately a job in the general hospital as a human resources agent. She says that because of aging staff, they are hiring a lot of nurses and healthcare techs.
        Among the applicants, about half are new immigrants from East European countries and the whole Maghreb. What is interesting is that, whether they are nurses or techs for hemodialysis as an example, they pass the first technical test honourably, but quite often, they fail the second test which is about emotional management i.e. dealing with anger, distress, pain etc. My take on this is that:
        1) the countries that are being deserted have fairly good education-training capabilities which is good news. At lest for people who do not ”cheat or make use of corruption”.
        2) The bad news is that these countries will keep losing their most valuable resources, in other words, they keep on bleeding.

        Being mostly concerned with the Maghreb in general and Algeria in particular, The people who (quoting Mnarvi) ‘’still resist in a positive way’’ will end up fleeing sooner or later because the world we live in today will offer more and more choices. ‘’It’s just the way things are’’ (quoting you this time). May be our Tef-Tef too, went abroad for better emotional care 🙂

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