Writing and Performing for Algeria

Writing and Performing for Algeria

An evening of socially and politically committed literature inspired by Africa was held at the University of Malta�s Francis Ebejer Hall in March 1999 as part of the African Week organized by the Third World Group. The evening�s special guests were performers Mouss� and Thioune Fatou Ndiaye from Senegal and musician Jamil Limam from Tunisia.

The evening was dedicated to Algeria, a resourceful country of 29 million people that has been living the daily tragedy of internal social and political strife ever since the military took over the country on January 11, 1992, ironically thirty years after it became independent from France. The evening focussed on the Berbers, the original inhabitants of Algeria and North Africa in general, and the richness of their culture. Many Berber singers and writers, expressing themselves in their native language, have publicly opposed the atmosphere of violence and conflict that has overcome Algeria since 1992; some have been assassinated for doing just that. In September 1994, forty-two year old popular rai singer Matoub Lounes was abducted and released within a week by the extremist Armed Islamic Group (GIA), but he was then killed in a roadblock in June 1998.

One of the four poems by Berber writers that were presented during the evening, �The Road to Freedom� by Madjid Chaoui, was translated into Maltese by an Algerian Berber scholar and presented in public for the first time. The poem is one of the 21 literary works included in a 44-page booklet that was launched during the evening. Other works include previously unpublished poems by Oliver Friggieri, John Buttigieg, Leslie Vassallo and a host of other young Maltese and African writers. Also included is a translation into Maltese by Karl Coleiro from the original in Arabic of an Egyptian short story by Mahmud Taimur.

During the evening, the organisers, in collaboration with Amnesty International (Malta), launched a campaign in favour of disappeared persons in Algeria, focussing in particular on the case of 21-year-old Amine Amrouche who was last seen more than two years ago and was allegedly being held in solitary confinement at a police station in Algiers.

Ray Calleja and Marcelle Theuma gave a vivid interpretation of the literary works and presented the evening. Jamil Limam played a number of Algerian numbers by well-known musicians like Cheb Hosni and Cheb Khaled and another tune in which he improvized on one of his compositions. Performers Mouss� and Thioune Fatou Ndiaye, both born into a Senegalese griot family, played, sang and danced to a traditional song and highlighted their role in the griot tradition not only as artistic performers by also as mediators �connecting� people. For the good number of people who attended the evening, including special guest, Prof. Charles Villa-Vicencio from the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the evening managed to �connect� the various cultures present on stage and in the audience.

Isefra ~ L-istejjer ta Poplu (isefra being Berber for �poems�), produced by Koperattiva Kulturali Universitarja and Inizjamed in collaboration with the University Precincts Office and BOV Club, was held as part of the African Week organized by the Third World Group and Koperattiva Kummerc Gust between 15 and 20 March.

For copies of the booklet Isefra ~ L-istejjer ta Poplu and information on how to help Amnesty International seek information about Amine Amrouche and other disappeared persons contact Inizjamed at inizjamed@email.com or the world shop L-Arka, at 306, St. Paul�s Street, Valletta (tel. 244 865).

Adrian Grima


 

Ir-Riżorsi ta’ l-Alġerija

Bil-ħila tan-nies tagħha u bir-riżorsi minerali li għandha, l-aktar iż-żejt u l-gass naturali, l-Alġerija tista� tkun wieħed mill-iktar pajjiżi sinjuri tal-Mediterran. Madwar 55% tal-popolazzjoni Alġerina ta� aktar minn 29 miljun ruħ hija magħmula minn żgħażagħ ta� taħt l-20 sena; 75% huma taħt it-tletin. Iżda minn dawk it-tfal li jattendu l-iskola primarja 3.3% biss jidħlu l-Universit�. 58% taż-żgħażagħ bejn it-18 u l-25 sena huma qiegħda.

L-ewwel abitanti ta� l-Alġerija kienu l-Berberi, u għaldaqstant anki llum il-kultura Berbera, bil-lingwa u d-drawwiet tagħha, hi meqjusa bħala l-kultura indiġena, u ħafna awturi Alġerini jagħżlu li jiktbu bil-lingwa Berbera.

Fl-Alġerija l-Berberi huma madwar 25% tal-popolazzjoni. Il-grupp ewlieni tal-Berberi jgħix fil-Kabylia fit-tramuntana tal-pajjiż. Minkejja l-influwenza tal-kultura għarbija, il-Berberi rnexxielhom iżommu l-identit� kulturali tagħhom, fost l-oħrajn permezz tat-twaqqif tal-Moviment Kulturali Berberu fis-Sebgħinijiet. Dan il-moviment qiegħed jaħdem biex il-lingwa Berbera, it-Tamazight, tingħata l-għarfien bħala lingwa nazzjonali u uffiċjali u tiddaħħal fl-iskejjel.

Il-kantant popolari Matoub Lounes, membru tal-MKB, inħataf mill-GIA u nżamm għal ġimgħa f�Settembru ta� l-1994. Fis-26 ta� ġunju, 1998, inqatel f�roadblock hu u sejjer lura d-dar. Kellu 42 sena. Matoub li kien esponent magħruf tal-mużika rai kien ikanta dwar temi soċjali. Kemm-il darba kkritika liż-żewġ naħat fil-kunflitt Alġerin.

Il-Kunflitt

Bejn l-1834 u l-1962 l-Alġerija kienet maħkuma minn Franza. Minkejja l-benefiċċji soċjali u l-iżvilupp ekonomiku li seħħ f�dan il-perijodu, l-Alġerini kellhom iħabbtu wiċċhom ma� ħafna restrizzjonijiet. Fil-ġlieda għall-Indipendenza ta� bejn l-1954 u l-1962, Franċiżi mietu mal-100,000 u Alġerini mal-miljun ruħ. Barra minn hekk, fil-gwerra għall-Indipendenza maż-żewġ miljun ruħ saru refuġjati.

Uħud isostnu li l-inkwiet kbir li għaddejja minnu l-Alġerija bħalissa huwa riżultat tal-problemi politiċi li l-Indipendenza baqgħet ma solvietx u tal-problemi ekonomiċi li tfaċċaw minħabba amministrazzjoni ħażina. Meta l-Gvern Alġerin ikkanċella l-elezzjonijiet ħielsa li kellhom isiru f�Jannar ta� l-1992 u li wisq probabbli kienu se jintrebħu mill-Front Islamiku tas-Salvazzjoni, bdiet tista� tgħid gwerra ċivili bejn il-Gvern u l-oppożizzjoni. F�din is-sitwazzjoni, qed ibatu l-aktar dawk li jemmnu fil-liberta� ta� l-espressjoni u dawk li ma jistgħux jiddefendu ruħhom. Bejn l-1992 u l-1997 inqatlu mal-50,000 ruħ. Ħafna oħrajn ħarbu mill-Alġerija u marru jfittxu kenn f�pajjiżi oħra, fosthom Malta.

F�Diċembru ta� l-1991 il-Front Islamiku tas-Salvazzjoni rebaħ 189 siġġu minn total ta� 430 fl-ewwel parti ta� l-elezzjonijiet nazzjonali li fihom ħarġu jivvutaw ftit iktar minn nofs il-votanti. Hemm min jgħid li din ir-rebħa ma kinitx tirrifletti konvinzjoni reliġjuża qawwija imma x-xewqa tal-poplu li l-Front jiżviluppa u jimmodernizza l-pajjiż u, l-ewwel u qabel kollox, joffri mexxejja politiċi moralment integri. Bejn li l-gvern tal-ġurnata ma riedx jaċċetta l-idea ta� gvern immexxi mill-FIS u bejn li kien hemm għadd ta� organizzazzjonijiet demokratiċi, għaqdiet favur id-drittijiet tal-bnedmin u għaqdiet tan-nisa li talbu l-intervent tal-gvern, l-armata għamlet pressjoni biex il-President Chadli Benjedid jirriżenja u floku ħatret kumitat ta� tmexxija ta� ħamsa min-nies, illum immexxi minn Liamine Zeroual.

Ħafna jsostnu li din l-interruzzjoni tal-proċess demokratiku wasslet għar-�radikalizzazzjoni� ta� l-Islam u daħħlet lill-Alġerija f�kunflitt imdemmi. Fl-1994, ngħidu aħna, il-Grupp Islamiku Armat ordna li l-iskejjel għolja u l-universitajiet kollha jingħalqu. L-iskejjel sfidaw din l-ordni u bejn il-bidu tas-sajf u Ottubru ta� dik is-sena nħarqu mas-sitt mitt skola u nqatlu ħafna edukaturi.

L-għaqdiet tad-drittijiet tal-bnedmin jgħidu li l-iktar nies li huma l-mira ta� l-Islamisti radikali huma l-membri tal-forzi tas-sigurt� u l-familji tagħhom, il-ġurnalisti u ħaddiema oħra fil-media, il-ħaddiema tal-gvern, il-barranin, in-nisa, l-avukati, l-intellettwali, l-artisti, l-attivisti favur id-drittijiet tal-bnedmin u l-għalliema.

Għadd ta� sorsi, fosthom rapporti ta� Impact International, L’Express International, Index on Censorship u Middle East Report ta� l-1995, isostnu li Franza, li tibża� li mewġa kbira ta� refuġjati Alġerini tiġi tħabbat fuq il-bibien tagħha, hi għal kollox kontra gvern Islamista fl-Alġerija u tagħti armi u appoġġ lill-armata Alġerina fil-ġlieda tagħha kontra l-gruppi Islamisti. Jingħad li Franza appoġġjat il-kolp ta� stat tal-11 ta� Jannar ta� l-1992.

Il-Futur

Arun Kapil mill-Institut Maghreb-Europe ta� l-Universit� ta� Pariġi jsostni li �l-futur ta� l-Alġerija huwa Islamista�; għażla hi bejn Islamiżmu moderat u Islamiżmu estremista. Skond l-Index on Censorship, meta l-FIS kien partit politiku legali, il-biċċa l-kbira ta� l-Islamisti wrew li kienu lesti joperaw fi ħdan il-qafas tal-kostituzzjoni pluralista. Jiġri x�jiġri, l-osservaturi jaqblu li jekk l-attitudni lejn l-Islamiżmu tibqa� waħda ta� konfrontazzjoni ħarxa se jibqa� jinxtered ħafna demm.

Fit-taħditiet li saru f�Ruma f�Novembru ta� l-1994 u f�Jannar ta� l-1995 bl-inizjattiva tal-Komunit� ta� Sant�Eġidju, tmien partiti ta� l-oppożizzjoni ffirmaw ftehim, jew proposta ta� paċi, li jikkundanna l-vjolenza kontra ċ-ċivili u jitlob għal waqfien mill-ġlied, għat-tneħħija ta� l-istat ta� emerġenza, għal-legalizzazzjoni tal-FIS u għall-ħelsien tal-membri tagħhom li jinsabu l-ħabs. Il-ftehim jagħti wkoll idea tal-passi li jridu jittieħdu biex ikun hemm djalogu nazzjonali, elezzjonijiet demokratiċi u r-rispett tal-jeddijiet ċivili.

Il-futur veru ta� l-Alġerija, bħal dejjem, jinsab fid-djalogu.

Adrian Grima | Marzu 1999

 


 

 

Dan l-artiklu deher fil-ktejjeb Isefra – l-istejjer ta’ poplu (Inizjamed – KKU – Marzu, 1999)

 

 

 

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