"All humans are members of the same body Created from one essence"

"Human beings are members of a whole in creation of one essence and soul. If one member is afflicted with pain, other members uneasy will remain."

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Berber in Algeria

"I employed the word “state”: it is obvious what is meant—some pack of blond beasts of prey, a conqueror and master race which, organized for war and with the ability to organize, unhesitatingly lays its terrible claws upon a populace perhaps tremendously superior in numbers but still formless and nomad … their work is an instinctive creation and imposition of forms; they are the most involuntary, unconscious artists there are—wherever they appear something new soon arises, a ruling structure that lives, in which parts and functions are delimited and coordinated, in which nothing whatever finds a place that has not first been assigned a “meaning” in relation to the whole."
Nietzsche 2000: 522)

There was a civilian regime once in Algeria. It means that the land (not the people) was an extended part of France. The civilian regime, according to Abdelmajid Hannoum, saw Algeria as a French territory, not a colony, but rather an inseparable part of France.

For the military regime, Algeria was a French colony, with a population to control.

Before the French colonization, Mercier speaks about northern Africa as the stage for ethnic conflict between the Phoenicians and the Romans, with the Berbers caught in the middle.

The Berbers, according to Mercier, are a mixture of races; some of them are from Iberian and Celtic races, "a blond population" (Mercier 1905: 23-59).

While the Romans chased the Phenicians, they themselves were chased by the Vandals, who where ousted by the Byzantines. The Berber helped the Roman chase the Phenicians, and the Vandal defeat the Roman, and the Byzantine end the rule of the latter!

By the end of the 7th century, another conqueror arrived: The Arabs!

Such was the state of Africa in the time when the Arabs erupted.
The Berbers, one can see, had almost regained their independence. It was against them that the invaders had to fight. However, the disunion of the indigenous population, the absence of patriotic feelings among these people who were not unified yet, would allow their temporary enslavement to the Muslims of the Orient who were unified and disciplined by a strong religious idea. (Mercier 1875: 40)

The Berbers could not fight the Arabs because their nationalism was not mature.

Gautier wrote: "It is sufficient to remember that the Berber in the twentieth century, as in the seventh century, has no idea of a nation. He does not even conceive the Maghreb as a whole towards which he has obligations. He is not more interested in the smaller nation of the Numidians or the country of Zaïan. He does not have any idea of this. The only thing for which the Berber has passion and is ready to sacrifice his life is his clan, his family. (Gautier 1927: 252)

For Gautier, there are still Berbers and there are still Arabs, and neither of them like the
other. Berbers and Arabs are fundamentally different because of their lifestyle—one of them
is a city dweller, the other one is a nomad. Of course, Arabs are occupiers and Berbers are the real inhabitants of the Maghreb.

Gautier’s description of the greatest threat to western civilization throughout the history of the Maghreb, since Roman times. This greatest danger is a man:

"This man is the nomad, the great nomad, the camel rider, grouped in fearful tribes, each is in itself a sort of a born regiment, without preliminary training. Quick, elusive, capable of emerging at any moment, unexpected, like a catastrophe of unwatched loneliness. A powerful military tool. This great nomad hardened by the privations of the desert is by natural consequence ardent, of deep desire, thirsty for pleasures. In his terrible poverty, this wild animal pursues inside himself, in a confusing manner, a dream of plundering and domination." (Gautier 1927: 184)

In 1930, when France celebrated the century of its occupation of Algiers, they were Arabs versus Berbers versus Arabized Berbers versus Arabs.

Tribalism is still inherent in all these divisions!!!

De Slane, William (1852), Histoire des Berbères d’Ibn Khaldûn, Imprimerie du Gouvernement,
Gautier, Emile-Félix (1920), L’Algérie et la métropole, Payot, Paris.
Gautier, Emile-Félix (1927), Les siècles obscures, Payot, Paris.
Gautier, Emile-Félix (1929), “Native life in French North Africa”, Geographical Review, vol. 13, no. 1,pp. 27–39.
Hannoum, Abdelmajid (2001a), “Colonialism and knowledge in Algeria: The archives of the Arab
Bureau”, History and Anthropology, vol. 4, pp. 343–379.
Hannoum, Abdelmajid (2001b), Colonial Histories, Post-Colonial Memories, Greenwood, Portsmouth, N.H.
Ibn Khaldûn/de Slane (1842–1856), Histoire des Berbères, Imprimerie du gouvernement, Algiers.
Nietzsche, Frederick (2000), Basic Writings of Nietzsche, Modern Library, New York.

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