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Algeria in the 90’s… by Allan Kitsoukou

11/20/2019 1:27 am

Background/Context

In this novel Kahdra talk about his home country, Algeria, 30 years after the War of Independence. The story occurs during the 90’s in Ghachimat which is a small village in the west side of Algeria where poverty and prosperity reign… Somehow.

A bunch of characters are staged in this story: Zane-the-dwarf, a young imam named Cheikh Abbas, Dactylo, a letter-writter, Kada, a teacher, Sarah, the mayor’s daughter, Allal, a policeman, Issa also known as Issa-the-Disgrace and his son Tej. Behind this cheerful image, the villagers actually living under tensions because of jealousy, frustration and lack of empathy.

The situation is totally changing when Cheikh came back into the village. He is going to have a big impact on everybody’s life especially those who are going to form the Muslim Brothers, an organization of revolutionaries fighting against the power represented by the government. The village began to split up into two distinct groups: Islamic extremists and regular villagers. Quickly, rebellions and revenges started triggering. The chaos was taking over the village. Slaughters, rapes, violence and terrorism attacks are being part of villagers’ routine.

Critical analysis 

Something we can observe along reading this thrilling story is that author is using a lot of informal, trash and harsh vocabulary. Especially in the original version (French). We can mention those sentences: “Et si on allait chez Mammy la pute” p.7, “Ses lourdes mamelles et fait vibrer ses hanches éléphantesques” p.17, “C’est quoi cette merde” p.38. He literally is insulting through a character other characters in the first two quotes and the last one is an informal way of saying “what is happening?”.

Out of the language, the story is full of insanity and craziness through ruthless murderers of families, decapitations, hanged people, burned bodies…

The author intentionally tried to give this feeling of fear and astonishment because he wanted to express and show how tough the condition of Algeria was in the 90’s because of the economic issues and mostly the political ones.

ACC & U Global Learning

This story is full of social issues. First of all, we can talk about the woman’s place in the Algerian society and the way it is viewed. The story took place in the 90’s. At this period of time, sexism and hierarchy between men and women were still operating. Thus, women had some restrictions and taboos such as clothing. For example, they were somehow forbidden to wear skirts, makeup or showy stuff. Also, their opinions were not really considered. At least not enough compared to now. Therefore, Algerians were living in a “world” where men represent the power.

This behavior is due to the popular opinion of this time period and also to precepts of religion. By the way, the religion is the main point of everything that occurs in this account. The Muslim Brothers, where the name is already significant, fight the oppression (government) to uphold their own rules and take the high-society down. Along the narration, we can denote anxiety and hatred from those who have grudges or are being part of the lower-class which is the root from their coming transformations.

The message and the facts the author tried to reveal through his story might be welcomed from two ways: either the reader understand the deep meaning of the story and try to reflect deeper about Algerians’ history, or everything that has been depicted is just perceived has a discrimination toward the Algerian community considered as reckless barbarians.

Reactions & Thoughts

Understanding the main point of the novel, I agree with the goals of the group of revolutionaries. They are trying to deliver their own country which is Algeria from the oppression of the government. The problem is about the consequences brought out by this uprising power which represents the Muslim Brothers. Some of the members turned out into monsters such as Zane-the-dwarf. He has been bullied and disrespected related to his difference from others which led him to be ruthless along the story. Therefore, I approve the movement but not the behavior some of the revolutionaries developed. It reminds me of the long-term strike in France related to the “yellow vest” which is a movement made by French citizens after summer in 2018. This movement was a picture of the exhaustion of the citizens when it comes to argue about taxes and laws. Little by little, a big presumed-pacifist movement turned out into a chaotic riot. I see this it kind of like the same way, even though, the context and circumstances are obviously different.