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


Book Review: Izuran

The topic Fatema Bakhai treats in Izuran (Roots) is not common in Algerian literature. She decided to revisit Algerians’ history from the beginning Neolithic to the fall of the Regency of Algiers through a historical fiction. This novel can therefore be read in conjunction with late Algerian historian Mahfoud Kaddache‘s excellent “Algerians’ Algeria“.

The book comes in three volumes (and the author said there wouldn’t be a fourth), and I’ve only read the first one “Izuran, in the country of the free men” which ends at the fall of Carthage in hands of the Muslims but I cannot wait to read the other two.

Fatema Bakhai, in a very good storyteller style, chose to go through this time period by relating the stories of the members of the same family through several generations. So we get to know very interesting, smart, courageous people such as Red Hair, Black Curls, Ayye, Amestan, Tirman, Tiziri, Amadeus ending up with Amzagh.

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