Book Review: Les Enfant des Frontières


Two weeks ago I was at a conference about the “refugees crisis” in Europe. The talk was given by a geographer researcher specialised in migrations, one who could have been among the 19 who signed the contribution in Le Monde refuting Kamel Daoud’s article in the same newspaper. A “bien-pensant” intellectual as Daoud’s friends would have called her (cf. this article in El Watan and a reaction to it in Le Matin) or simplistically a jealous person as prodigy Daoud himself would have called her had she been Algerian.

So there were maps, statistics and graphs with some geopolitics putting things back in their context. It was very interesting and informative. People should get access to such information to, at least, try to avoid situations such as having some former refugees who do not want their new country to take in new ones. Especially when a “renowned” journalist and writer implies that the new refugees come with a cultural sickness which makes them prone to violence and “that the disease is spreading to their own lands.”

The same happens in Algeria with the sub-Saharan refugees who either stay in the South or move farther to the Northern cities (dying, for some, while crossing the Sahara). In Bejaia (and elsewhere), you can see them, men, women, children and babies turned into street beggars or very low-cost workers in construction/farming fields. They rely on the locals’ generosity and also suffer from their animosity (some in Algeria say they’d spread their diseases – yes, it’s the bell ringing that you hear.)

So I though I’d write a very short review of a beautiful book on the times when our people were themselves refugees, pushed out by the French occupier’s policies and seeking refuge in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia if not farther. Continue reading

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Book Review: Chants de Guerre des Femmes Kabyles


Unwritten languages face many threats. They could of course disappear, and when they have people trying to save them, as it is the case with Kabyle, they still face the threat of losing all or part of the cultural patrimony they carry.

Some Kabyles nowadays speak in French or Algerian dardja, and many do speak Kabyle but mixed with so many Arabic or French words that you wouldn’t recognise it. Several Kabyle words are therefore not used any more.

But it is not just words that disappear. Poems and proverbs tend to be forgotten as well. A great-aunt of mine, aged 103, lost her 16 yo and 18 yo sons who died as martyrs in the early days of the Algerian Revolution. I think she never recovered from her loss and she used to sing many poems dedicated to them and to the war in general. Unfortunately nobody did learn or record them, and they will probably disappear the time she will leave us. Continue reading