This morning, as I checked the Algerian Radio website, I read the sad news of Cherifa’s death at the age of 86. I spoke in a previous post about how only death seemed to make us realise the dead was noteworthy, and I believe that I should have written about Cherifa earlier.
Cherifa-n-w-Akbou, whose real name was Ouardia Bouchemlal, wasn’t really from Akbou as many had thought; she was indeed born in the wilaya of Bordj Bou Arreridj and moved to Akbou only when she was a teenager. Her Wikipedia entry [Fr] says enough things which I don’t have to repeat here.
The Kabyle singer became famous with the song she wrote when she left Akbou in 1942 (ebqa 3la khir a y Aqvu). Her long career saw other successes and several Kabyle singers picked many of her famous songs.
Cherifa sung along with a group of women in a typical Kabyle style. Her ashwiq was the kind of music (and songs) I used to hear from my grand-mother and other old women. She sung about life and love, women’s issues and prophet’s madihs as well. I know some (many?) won’t agree but whenever I listen to her I cannot help but compare her clean and decent art to what I flag as ugly and dirty production from most Rai sheikhates.
A few years ago, Cherifa n waqvu was invited on Canal Algerie and she spoke of her life, her début, how her family ignored her (it’s shameful to be a singer), how she was forgotten during the 70s, how she never had children, etc. It was a very moving program and I unfortunately couldn’t find it online.
Cherifa’s most famous songs, besides the one I mentioned above, are “a y azarzour“, “sniwa dhi fendjalen“, “alward ifires” and “anzur el wali“. Below is a video with more than three hours of her music.
May she rest in peace.