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Culture

Literature

literatureAlgerian writers first made a name for themselves during the French colonial period when many found a market in France for their novels. Foremost among them was Tlemcen-born Mohammed Dib (1920–2003), who wrote more than 30 novels, plus works of poetry, short stories and children’s books. Although writing in the language of the occupiers, Dib and his contemporaries reclaimed the language as their own. Awarded the Grand Prix de la Francophonie de l’Academie Francaise in 1994, Dib is seen by many as the father of modern Algerian literature. Sadly, few of his works have been translated into English, but The Savage Night, a 13-storey compendium, is an excellent window on Dib’s world.
Kateb Yacine (1929–89) was a contemporary of Dib and was also considered one of North Africa’s finest writers of the 20th century. His landmark novel Nedjma interweaves family history with the Algerian War of Independence and is considered one of the most important French language novels ever written in the Maghreb. Jean Amrouche (1907–62) was another important pioneer of Algerian writing in French. It is also impossible to talk of Algerian literature of the period without paying homage to Albert Camus (1913–60), a pied-noir who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957 and is considered one of the towering figures of French literature and existentialist thought.
Frantz Fanon (1925–61) was born in Martinique but will be forever be associated with Algeria for his work The Wretched of the Earth, which was based on his experiences during the Algerian War of Independence and is considered an important revolutionary book.
After independence, Algerian writers found themselves confronted with the highly political question of which language to write in. French ensured a wider audience but was tarnished with a colonial brush. Arabic was politically correct, but limited the author to a small, local book buying market. Tamazigh was itself a tough choice for both political and economic reasons.
The highly regarded Rachid Boudjedra (b1941) chooses to write in Arabic and produces his own translations into French. Mohamed Khaireddine chose to write in French as an act of cultural resistance because Tamazigh was forbidden. Other writers from the Kabylie region and for whom Berber identity plays a critical role include Marguerite Taos Amrouche (1913–76) and Mouloud Mammeri (1917–89). Across the cultural divide, Tahir Wattar chose to write in Arabic, although his work The Earthquake is widely available in English.
Women are among the leading crop of current Algerian writers whose works have been translated and are widely available in English. Assia Djebar is the most widely known and her novels (Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade and So Vast the Prison) and nonfiction (Algerian White and Women of Algiers in their Apartment) explore the role of women in Algerian society through beautifully told stories. Another leading light is Leila Sebbar who moved to France aged 17 and whose novels (Sherazade and Silence on the Shores) centre around the lives of Algerian women living in France.
Other important contemporary Algerian novelists include Anouar Benmalek (The Lovers of Algeria), Aziz Chouaki (The Star of Algiers) and the prolific Yasmina Khadra (the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul) who made his name with The Swallows of Kabul but whose Autumn of the Phantoms deals with more Algerian themes.

Painting

paintingMost discussions of Algerian painting centre around French artists, among them Delacroix, Renoir, Matisse and Fromentin, who visited Algeria in the 19th century or early 20th century and whose work was transformed by a new approach to light and colour as a result. This Eurocentric view of Algerian art reflects the fact that French colonial rule in Algeria did little to provide education or support for local Muslim Algerian artists. One artist who emerged during the colonial period was Mohammed Racim (1896–1975), who began his career as a craftsman illuminator in the Casbah of Algiers and went on to become a celebrated artist at home and in France. After meeting a French patron of the arts at a workshop, Racim was commissioned to illustrate a lavish edition of Arabian Nights and the project enabled him to move to Paris where he lived for eight years. Developing his skill as a miniaturist, he made stirring if somewhat idealised representations of aristocratic Algiers. However, it was not until after independence in 1962 that Algerian artists truly began to flourish, most notably those known as the ‘Generation of 1930’ artists born in and around that year. One of the most celebrated was Baya Mahieddine (1931–98) who was born in Algiers and was adopted by a French couple at age five. Never taught to read or write, Baya, as she is best known as a painter, instead taught herself to paint using gouache on paper and held her first exhibition in France aged just 16. She came to the attention of such luminaries as André Breton and Pablo Picasso and her stellar career never looked back with exhibitions of vivid colours and abstract figures in Paris, Washington and Algiers.
Mohammed Khadda (http://khadda.yellis.net/)was another eminent Algerian abstract painter 1930–91 who emerged in the post-independence period after he, too, emigrated to Paris and worked under Picasso’s careful eye. In the euphoria of independence, he turned his back on the Western figurative tradition of fine arts in favour of representations of Arabic letters in creative calligraphic forms. Other artists of note from the period include M’Hamed Issiakhem (1928–85) and Choukri Mesli (b 1930) who both learned their trade at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
More recent artists to take up Khadda’s calligraphic mantle include Majhoub ben Bella (1946) and Rachid Koraïchi (1947). Other painters representative of the post-independence period include Ali Silem (b 1947), Redha Chikh Bled (b 1949), Hamid Tibouchi (b1951), Samta Benyahia (b 1949) and Akila Mouhoubi (b 1953), while Slimane Ould Mohand (b 1966), Philippe Amrouche (b 1966), Raouf Brahmia (1965–) and Kamel Yahiaoui (b 1966) are the great hopes for the next generation of Algerian art.
For an excellent overview of Algerian art and works by European Orientalist painters who visited Algeria, visit the Musée des Beaux Arts in Algiers. silver daggers with leather hilts.

Jewellery

jewleryAlthough largely functional in purpose, Tuareg silver jewellery has evolved into an art form in its own right which is highly sought after by Western collectors.
The most unusual item is the croix d’Agadez (a stylised Tuareg cross of silver with intricate filigree designs) named after Agadez in Niger. Every town and region with a significant Tuareg population has its own unique version of the cross and by some estimates there are 36 different versions. Although European explorers saw the design as evidence of prior Christianity, traditional Tuareg see them as powerful talismans designed to protect against ill fortune and the evil eye. Some also serve as fertility symbols. The crosses are still used by Tuareg men as currency (eg for buying camels), although these days this is rare in Algeria. At other times, the crosses are worn by their wives as a sign of wealth.
Other silver items include: a wide range of silver necklaces (those containing amber are generally from across the border in Niger); striking, square, silver amulets that are worn around the neck by elders as a symbol

Cinema

cinemaFrom Chronicle of the Year of Embers (directed by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina), which won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975, to Rachid Bouchareb’s Oscar-nominated Days of Glory in 2007, Algerian film has been charming international critics for decades. Algeria’s is facing a shortage of funds that is crippling the creative works of its directors. But if quality is the touchstone, the Algerian film industry is in rude health. The first sign that Algerian film would become one of the most inventive in the world came in 1965 with The Battle of Algiers. Written anddirected by the Italian Gillo Pontecorvo, this relentlessly compelling representation of urban guerrilla warfare on the streets of Algiers nonetheless owed much to Algerian creativity and suggested that Algerians had a natural affinity with the silver screen. The film, which remains a cult hit, was funded by the Algerian government and almost all of the actors were ordinary Algerians.
Algerian directors would quickly show that they, too, were capable of tackling the big themes and doing so with panache. Not surprisingly, given its impact on Algerian society, the 1954–62 Algerian War of Independence would become a recurring muse for Algerian directors. This cluster of war films served as a platform for later directors to tackle the serious issues of Algerian society and exile with an unflinching gaze one of the defining characteristics of Algerian film. It can make for harrowing viewing but it’s the sort of cinema that has the power to change the way you think about the world.
A case in point was Mohamed Rachid Benhadj’s Desert Rose (1989), which has an almost claustrophobic intensity and which some critics see as a coming-of-age for Algerian cinema. The film recounts the story of a seriously handicapped man in a remote oasis village. Benhadj has Third World in general, formed by rigid beliefs and intolerance, but now having to redefine itself as all the alibis on which its place in the world depended begin to fall away.’
Another fine example is the critically acclaimed Rachida (2002) by Yamina Bachir-Chouikh, in which a young teacher is shot by terrorists after she refuses to plant a bomb in a school. Rachida also represented the directing debut for this highly talented female director, who had written the screenplay for the 1976 classic Omar Gatlato by Merzak Allouache.
Similarly, the French-born Algerian director Bourlem Guerdjou won awards for Living in Paradise (1997) which looks at the dislocated lives of Algerian exiles living in France. His 2005 offering, Zaina: Rider of the Atlas, is also outstanding.
The Palestinian tragedy has also proved to be the perfect subject matter for Algerian directors, most notably in Nakhla (1979) by Farouk Beloufa. Few Algerian movies have been as warmly praised by critics and so fiercely targeted by government censors.
The already mentioned Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina has had one of the most distinguished careers, gaining no fewer than four nominations (one successful) for the Palme d’Or at Cannes. His filmography began with The Winds of the Aures (1966) and drew to an equally impressive close with La Dernière Image (1986).
One of the most impressive recent debuts came with Djamila Sahraoui’s 2006 debut Barakat!. This excellent film follows the travails of an emergency doctor who returns home in 1991 to find that her husband has disappeared and has most likely been kidnapped by Islamist rebels. She is accompanied on her search by an older nurse who is a veteran of the independence struggle and the story becomes an intergenerational exploration of modern Algeria. It is outstanding.
Tony Gatlif, who was born as Michel Dahmani in Algiers in 1948, is one of France’s most respected directors. His La Terre au Ventre (1979) is a story of the Algerian War of Independence, while Exils (2004), about Algerian exiles on their journey home, won a Best Director award at Cannes.

Architecture

From the claustrophobic clamour of Algiers’ Unesco World Heritage–listed Casbah to the red and white earth tones of the Saharan oases, Algerian architecture is a highlight of any visit to Algeria. Particularly in the north of the country, much of what you’ll see is a fusion of styles Roman, Byzantine, Spanish, Ottoman, French and indigenous Islamic to name a few. Examples of this often incongruous but always eye-catching combination, the Souk el-Ghazal Mosque and Grand Mosque in Constantine date from the 18th and 14th centuries respectively and include Roman-era granite columns and Corinthian capitals as essential elements of their structures.
The rise of Christian Spain in the late 15th century brought to bear two important influences on the Algerian architectural landscape. The first was the arrival of Muslim refugees from Andalusia who brought with them new ideas regarding architecture. The second was less direct: in a bid to counter growing Spanish influence, rulers in the Maghreb turned east towards the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and Algiers in particular benefited from this shift in focus. Ottoman architecture remained the dominant force until the arrival of the French in the 19th century.
The first building erected by the Ottomans was the Djemaa el-Djedid in 1660. Its Ottoman-style dome is still the most recognisable Ot- toman landmark in Algeria, although the Andalusian influence evident in the minaret is typical of the time when a Moorish style still held sway. Much of the Islamic architecture in northern Algeria would later be destroyed or, more often, converted by the French to serve a Christian purpose. Although these buildings were returned to their original functions after independence, many now bear traces of colonial meddling. The Djemaa Ketchoua, also in Algiers, was used as a cathedral by the French, although, thankfully, they made few alterations. The Djemaa Safir was one of the last Ottoman-built mosques in the capital.
The Ottomans left largely unscathed the overhanging buildings, wooden bay windows and delicate stucco work of the Casbah, primarily because they settled largely in the lower part of the city. Elsewhere most Ottoman palaces and townhouses featured an L-shaped entrance which led into an interior marble-paved courtyard surrounded by porticoes, horse-shoe arches and mosaic tiles on four sides. The Dar Hassan Pacha , also in Algiers, is a particularly fine example.
Although new towns have grown up alongside them, the huddled dwellings of the oasis towns of the Sahara still use ancient building methods sun-baked mud, straw and palm products, flat roofs that are well suited to the harsh demands of desert life. In smaller settlements, many traditional flat-roofed Saharan houses have been neglected to the point of dereliction as a result of the relocation of their residents to modern housing elsewhere. Many such houses are vulnerable to rare but devastating downpours.

MUSIC

KABYLIE MUSIC

Although not as well-known beyond Algeria’s shores, the music of the Berber (Amazigh) people of the Kabylie region of northeastern Algeria is a mainstay of the local music scene. With its roots in the music and poetry of the Kabylie villages and in the exile and disaffection felt by many Amazigh in post-independence Algeria, Kabylie music has always provided something of a barometer for the health of Algerian society.
Kabylie singers from the colonial era such as Slimane Azem (1918–83) were, like many Kabylie, strong supporters of the push for Algerian independence. Azem’s song ‘Locusts, Leave My Country’ became a de facto anthem for a generation of Algerians, both at home and in France. Western icons of the 1960s such as Bob Dylan later influenced liberal-minded Kabylie musicians who longed for their own counterculture revolution in Algeria. The Kabylie uprising of the early 1980s heard voices such as Djamel Allam’s (b 1947) and Matoub Lounès’ (1956–98) emerge as the soundtrack for a new generation of rebels; Lounès was to pay for his passionate advocacy for secularism and Amazigh rights in Algeria when he was assassinated soon after he returned home from France in 1998.
Female singers with Kabylie roots have also taken the world by storm, most notably Paris-based Souad Massi (1972) whose debut Raoui (Story-teller) was an instant hit in 2001. Her follow-up Deb Heart Broken (2003) was, if anything, even better. Iness Mêzel is another important female Kabylie singer, while male Kabylie singers to watch out for are Akli D, Cheikh Sidi Bemol (www.louzine.net), Aït Menguellet and Takfarinas.

TUAREG MUSIC

Althought Algeria’s Tuareg have made few contributions to the desert blues music that has become a pleasure cause for world music fans, the country does have a claim to fame in this regard. The celebrated Tuareg group Tinariwen hail from the remote Kidal region of northeastern Mali, but they spent much of the 1980s and 1990s in exile as famine and then rebellion raged in their homeland. Part of that exile was spent in Tamanrasset and later in Libya. It was there that the band members learnt to play the guitar and much international success has followed. Inspired by the success of groups such as Tinariwen and, more recently, Etran Finatawa, Tin Hinan is a young Algerian Tuareg group for whom critics are predicting great success and they’re definitely a name to watch out for.

CHAABI

is a traditional music of Algiers (Algeria), formalized by El Hadj M'Hamed El Anka. Originally from the Casbah, Chaabi first appeared in the late 19th century, inspired by vocal traditions of Arab and Berber Andalusian music, also the home of Flamenco music. Chaabi simply means "folk" in Algerian. A typical song features mournful, Arabic/Berber vocals, set against an orchestral backdrop of a dozen musicians, with violins and mandolins swelling and falling to a piano melody and the clap of percussion beats. While it shares many set themes with Flamenco - love, loss, exile, friendship and betrayal, Chaabi is part of a deeply conservative tradition and its lyrics often carrying a strong moral message. At first Chaabi remained a scandalous genre, thriving behind closed doors or in specific locations called "Mahchachat" (cannabis dens),[1] where the admirer of this music would go to drink coffee, tea or smoke. By the late 1950s, however, it had become the people's music, played at weddings and religious festivals. Maybe one of the most famous songs of this genre is “ya rayah” by dahmane el harrachi which made quite the success world wide

GNAWA

people originated from West Africa; to be precise the ancient Ghana Empire of Ouagadougou (present day Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Burkino Faso and 85% of Mali)). This name Gnawa is taken from one of the indigenous languages of the Sahara Desert called Tamazight. Gnawa literally means collective, suggesting that singing doesn’t depend on a single person, so there is no main singer basically.The Gnawa are an ethnic group whom, with the passing of time became a part of the Sufi order in Algeria, and that’s where there music developed from religious chanting to an independent genre, the most famous gnawa group right now in Algeria is Gnawa diffusion, led by amazigh, the son of the famous Algerian writer kateb yacine
ANDALUDSIAN CLASSICAL MUSIC
is a style of Arabic music found in different styles across Algeria with different names Ma'luf, andalussi, tarab.... It originated out of the music of Al-Andalus (current spain and portugal) between the 9th and 15th centuries. The jews of Algeria and north Africa in general played a major role in saving this genre just paying attention to the cities where its still popular and wll preserved til today, these are the cities where most of the jews resided, Constantine and tlemcen for instance, the three main schools and styles of andalusian music across Algeria are:
The Ma'luf style in the east of the country in Constantine .
The Gharnati in the region of Tlemcen.
The Sana'a in the region of Algiers.

RAI

Rai came into its own in the 70s and 80s. Fadela’s outspoken 1979 hit ‘Ana ma h’lali ennoum’ gripped the country. Rachid Baba Ahmed threw in modern pop and became rai’s most important producer. The first state-sanctioned Rai Festival in Oran in 1985 marked its emergence as a nationally accepted genre. Then came civil war and encroaching fundamentalism. Cheb Hasni, the great star of rai love, was gunned down in Oran in 1994; Rachid Baba Ahmed was killed a few months later. Khaled, the King of Rai, whose song ‘El-Harba Wayn?’ became an anthem for protestors, left for Paris after death threats. Others followed suit; France is now home to a wealth of Algerian musicians including rai (ish) rocker Rachid Taha; chaabi-rai innovator Bilal; and rai fusionist Cheb Mami, who recorded a duet, 2000’s ‘Desert Rose’, with Sting.
Second-generation Algerians including Faudel, the self-styled Prince of Rai, continue to make waves in Paris. The historic 1998 1,2,3 Soleil concert at Bercy stadium saw Khaled, Faudel and Rachid Taha (respectively the King, Prince and Rebel of Rai) entertain a 15,000-strong crowd; the excellent live album is released by Barclay. Rai continues apace in Algeria: Houari Dauphin, Hasni’s successor, is huge. Chebs and chabas and their older, more traditional equivalents, cheikhs and cheikhas, sing in clubs and cabarets, and at festivals including Oran each August. Their lyrics may be more benign than those of their exiled, politicised colleagues, but their music still combines the best of all worlds.
Must have albums:
Sahra by Khaled (Polygram 1997)
C’est la vie by Khaled (2012)
1,2,3 Soleil (Barclay France 1999)
Dellali by Cheb Mami (Ark 21 2001)
Takitoi by Rachid Taha (Wrasse 2004)
Lovers Rai by Cheb Hasni (Rounders Select 1997)

WOMEN IN ALGERIA

Algerian women fought as equals alongside men. They thus achieved a new sense of their own identity and a measure of acceptance from men. In the aftermath of the war, women maintained their new-found emancipation and became more actively involved in the development of the new state. Algeria is regarded as a relatively liberal nation and the status of women reflects this. Algerian women can inherit property, obtain a divorce, retain custody of their children, gain an education and work in many sectors of society. Not only that they even managed to beat men in some numbers, Women make up 70 percent of Algeria’s lawyers and 60 percent of its judges. They also dominate the fields of medicine, healthcare and science. Increasingly, women contribute more to household income than men.As of 2007, sixty-five percent of university students are women, with more than 80% joining the workforce after graduation. They are encouraged by family members to become educated and contribute to Algerian society. Algerian women are among the first in North Africa to become taxi and bus drivers. Their numbers are also increasing in the police force and security positions. Even more and Unlike other countries in the region, equality for women is enshrined in Algerian laws and the constitution, and it has to be since more than a third of Algerian lawmakers are women (35% of parliament members are women), a ratio higher than the average of the countries of the europeon union, this average doesn’t even exceed 14% in the neighboring countries and all north Africa and the middle east, in fact not long ago February 2015, the government passed a new law against domestic violence giving women the full rights as men, they are in no position to be abused in anyway and results are jail time for anyone who goes against, the law went against so many extremist and religious figures, those still holding the patriarchy mentality, nevertheless and although all the opposition, the law made it to light, and Algeria is on for a another success

SPORTS

sportsAlgeria is one of the most significant countries in Africa and one that has won various championships and Olympic medals. It's most popular, and in fact its national sport, is football or soccer. But other popular sports in Algeria are handball, martial arts, boxing, basketball, volleyball and athletics.
The Algerian national Football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014. In 1982, the national team came close to progressing into the second round, but was eliminated after Germany beat Austria in the so-called "non-aggression pact of Gijón". In 2014 Algeria proceeded to the Round of 16 for the first time after finishing in the second place in Group H, and presented one of their best games ever against the world cup champion Germany they only lost at the last minute after two additional halves and an ending score of 2 -1. Algeria has won the African cup once in 1990. Additionally, several football clubs have won continental and international trophies, such as the clubs ES Sétif and JS Kabylia.
Handball is the second most popular spectator and participation sport. With 6 titles of the Men's African Championship, 4 gold medals in All-Africa Games and many other titles with many participations in the World Championship and in the Olympic Games, thenational handball team became one of the great team of the world. The national clubs are also strong and win many international titles.
Athletics is too one of the important sport of the country. Algeria is especially known in the Middle distance running (800m, 1500m, 5000m) when it have many winner in the IAAF World Championships and gold medals in the Olympic Games. Several men and women were champions in athletics in the 1990s including Noureddine Morceli, Hassiba Boulmerka, Nouria Merah-Benida, and Taoufik Makhloufi all specialized in middle distance running.
Algeria have many African and world champions and many medals in the Olympic Games. There are several names who shined, like world champion Mohamed Benguesmia, Loucif Hamani, and Hocine Soltani, the Olympic champion in Atlanta 1996.
In Vovinam, the Algerian had tens of thousands of practitioners who distinguished themselves in the world Championship of 2011 in Ho Chi Minh City. In judo, Amar Benikhlef and Ali Idir won several times the African Championship in there categories. Also several women asSoraya Haddad and Salima Souakri, took trophies At the African Championship of nations of women's judo.