COUSCOUS – MAGHREB – UNESCO: WHICH GAME ARE THE FRENCH PLAYING?
UNESCO, acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is a specialized agency in the United Nations (UN), established November 16, 1945, to promote Education, Science and Culture among all the people in the world, each with its own language, heritage, habits and customs.
The fact that UNESCO’s headquarters are located in Paris, France, means that France has the opportunity to easily manipulate the institution. Espeacially regarding everything relating Kabylia, the Kabyle people and the Amazigh world in general.
According to the website for the “France 24” television channel, UNESCO is considering the inclusion of couscous as a part of the world heritage, as a “Maghrebin” dish rather than an Amazigh dish.
My friend Hélène E. Hagan, anthropologist, director of the Tazzla Institute for Cultural Diversity and producer of the Amazigh Film Festival in the United States of America, warned the UN institution that by doing this they are committing a major historical error, and an affront to the Amazigh populations of North Africa.
It is in this way that she (Masa Hélène E. Hagan) has just called on Ms. Audrey Azoulay, the director of UNESCO on the subject, in an official letter. As a reminder, Azoulay was the French Minister of Culture from 2016 to 2017. She was born in Paris to a Moroccan Jewish family from the Mugadu amazigh city (Essaouira), and she is the daughter of André Azoulay; a current adviser to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.
In her letter, Masa Hélène E. Hagan informed Audrey Azoulay of her dissatisfactions by stating that all the archaeological data reveals that the creation of couscous in North Africa precedes the arrival and installation of Arabs in the region.
Indeed couscous was a staple of the Amazigh population, for several millennials in the region from Libya to the Atlantic Ocean and covering Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Hagan specifies in her letter, that the notion of “Maghreb” that the UNESCO organization intends to use to design this Amazigh dish, (according to the article of France 24) is of Arab origin. It is an Arabic word that has been stamped on the region, meaning “sunset country” in relation to an Arab orientation of the Middle East.
And further more:
“North Africa is the” Maghreb “only for these Arabs, not for the Amazigh indigenous people. Therefore, the couscous that existed in this region that the locals call “Tamazgha” can not be described as “Maghrebin” only out of ignorance and bad faith.”
Masa Hélène E. Hagan ends her letter by asking Mrs. Audrey Azoulay not to follow up on such an unfortunate idea by thanking her for not mystifying the story once more regarding the Amazigh heritage and culture of North Africa.
Racid At Ali uQasi