|Writing and Performing for Algeria|
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 Moussé 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previously unpublished poems by Oliver Friggieri, John Buttigieg, Leslie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 Moussé 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’
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or the world shop L-Arka,
at 306, St. Paul’s Street, Valletta (tel. 244 865).
Ara l-artiklu: Ir-Rizorsi ta' l-Algerija