Today we celebrate the 56th anniversary of the independence of Algeria from French colonization that lasted 132 years from 1830 to 1962.
Yes the achievement and sacrifice are worthy of a celebration and we have to be proud of. Algerian flags are unfurled on our highest landmarks. French colons and pieds-noirs have been booted out from our lands. We enjoy living in the colonial European cities they built on our lands…and that used to be forbidden to our people. Yes, it is worthy celebrating.
But … are we still independent?
Early generations who bravely fought France did so in order to recover their freedom, recover their honour and self-esteem, recover their land and their identity. And they did. But what about us? We, children of postcolonial Algeria? What did we do of their legacy? Of their struggle and dream? Is postcolonial Algeria truly independent from France? Is post-colonial Algeria truly free in its mind and soul from French cultural hegemony?
How many times do we hear our ruling elite officials addressing our people in french colonial language rather than in arabic. How many times do we hear the francophone ministry of education speaking broken Arabic language without feeling ashamed. How many times do we hear francophone subaltern intellectuals praising the french colonial past. How many times do we hear children schooled in private schools following french education curiculum addressing their parents, not in their grandparent’s language, but in the language of the colons, of the pieds-noir, in french and the parents feeling proud of their kids’ perfect frenchy accent…
Colonization is not just the colonization of land and resources it is also the colonization of the mind and culture, of the intellect and psyche of a nation. The struggle for freedom didn’t finish in 1962 . It did start then and it is still going on. Somehow, we are still at war with France but this time the battlefield is no longer lands and cities…It is our mind, the mind of our children on whom soft weapons are used to reengineer all our society to keep it subjugated to french hegemony.
It is time for postcolonial Algeria to remove the white french mask from its genuine brown Algerian face. It is time to question the legacy of french colonization, question everything, all the system of knowledge of meaning inherited from colonial era : language, History, archeology, everything in order to debunk the myths and lies …to recover our self-esteem, our identity and start seeing ourselves without the lenses of the colonizer.
There is no third way.
We either stand up and resist against french cultural hegemony to decolonize our mind or we just give up and accept to be subjugated to be what our forebears refused to be … des colonisés.