When you’ll come into this world you’ll be thousands of miles north from where I want to take you, in a land where I was born, and where my mother and my mother’s mother and her mother’s mother were born.
Over 2300 years ago this beautiful land was called Numedia. Berber tribes and their first ever King, the vigorous and Brave Massinissa lived there. Massinissa the brave and his tribesmen were great horsemen and Rome’s leaders were very impress and envious. King Massinissa made Cirta his capital city. Nowadays Cirta is called Constantinople.
Algiers where I was born is now the capital city of this wondrous country but in those days Algiers was just a Berber port in Numedia.
For over 300 years Massinissa’s people fought to protect their kingdom from Rome but the Romans eventually managed to take over their land and ruled for about 600 years. Your great- great-grand-mother’s house sat in a place called Tipaza by the sea where some roman ruins laid in the midst of pine trees. Her house is now a museum and the roman remains are protected.
Then the Vendals ruled over Numedia and made Carthage their capital.
One hundred years later it was a Christian empire that in turn ruled this land.
Then in 711, the Arabs became the masters of the whole region and the population converted to Islam. They didn’t like the Berbers.
Around 1500 Some Turks called Ottomans took Cirta and the whole of Algeria became a Regency of this now Ottoman’s empire. All around Algeria tribes revolted again and again.
As you can see there was very little peace in this land for its inhabitants. But it’s no way near the end of it, so let’s keep going.
The 29th April 1827 is the date of the first diplomatic crisis between Algeria and France, the country I now live in. After the French government had refused to pay some of its debts to Algeria, the Algerian governor was asked to apologise for his behaviour when he complained and the French government used this event as an opportunity to invade.
As a result, for years and years there were a lot of atrocities committed by the French after some treaties had been signed that weren’t in favour of the Algerian indigenous people.
In 1830 Algiers was taken by French troops.
In 1848 Algeria officially became a French territory with about 15000 French for 1,500.00 indigenous people who were Arabs, Berbers and Jewish.
Our ancestors arrived in Algeria around that time.
In 1870 a French decree gave Jewish people of Algeria the French nationality but in 1940 that same decree was abolished by the Vichy government.
In 1871, some 500.000 hectares were confiscated from the indigenous people and given to the French.
In those days, the whole of Africa had been taken over by different European countries and similar politics and acts of vandalism were happening there. Those European rulers believed in their supremacy and superiority and that was that. The local people revolted again and again and regular violent protests everywhere ended up with so many people dying.
The indigenous people were never granted an education nor given a French nationality even though the men were enrolled into the 2 French wars of the last century: In the First World War, of the 173000 soldiers called from Algeria, 25000 were Algerian Muslim and died along 22000 Europeans.
In French Algeria discontent and bloodshed lasted 106 years. Algeria became independent on 5th July 1962, and 1000,000,000 French people left by boats leaving some 500,000 dead from all sides behind.
Your great-grand-father was one of those 1000,000,000 people. He left his farm and all his possessions behind and with his family arrived in France in November 1963.
For the last 60 years Algeria has been in a process of rebuilding itself and creating its new own identity painfully.
My heart sobs for our foolishness, our selfishness, our blindness, our madness.
So little one, the world you’re about to enter is a world full of dark dark history, where people lie, rape, kill and torture one another in the name of their own dream.
But where there is darkness there is also light and the light is coming from a few million silent people from around the globe standing awake and aware and working and sharing, and able to heal themselves and everything that lives, and give with an open heart and without fear of one another. They have been called and they are answering the call.
They are waiting for you.