Ferhat Mehenni’s message to the young kabylians

Tomorrow, if our option proves to be below or above the kabylian people interests, it’s your responsibility to readjust its course. Like our predecessors, we did our duty; it’s up to you to do yours, to go further. It’s between your hands, young kabylians, that I put this message which, for me, has the value of all the sufferings and of all the hardships that our people had to face throughout the ages. Each word here expresses our generosity and our respect of ourselves and others. I hope that it brings all Kabylia today’s expectations and those of her future which can be achieved only through a kabylian state.

This is for you who are called to continue on our work, we know how weighty the responsibility that our generation hands over to you is. We know its weight since, very young as well, we received it from our seniors. In your turn, you will have to leave it to your youngest ones who will hand it over to your children. Thus, from our distant ancestors till our great-granddaughters and great-grandsons, and this, till the end of time, each generation of Kabylians is ennobled by History which leaves with him the mission of perpetuating our life, dignity and freedom breath all time threatened by tyrants and invaders. You will, you too, have to breathe life into this speech of multiple accents, which we hold from our elders, vitality and a dynamism which will be heightened by your descendants. The kabyle which makes our originality and our pride as a people, this language which has come down to us through the ages and from the great Amazigh family, is what we bring as best to humanity. It expresses our soul, our being and our land in front of mankind outburst and the elements of which it restrains the madness by showing them how our attachment to freedom is limitless, our legendary hospitality and our total respect of other peoples.

The mountains of dust left by the winds of History on our hearts and our eyes, our heads and our shoulders have, nearly always, during centuries, misplaced our steps and our stares towards the countries of distorting prisms. It is still difficult to reconstitute our itinerary. Today, still floats under our eyes, the image of the great king Massinissa who, after his official deliberations in Punic language, will embrace his many children in a language which was similar to our Kabyle. Our Aguellid has the ambition to make of our land and our people a link between the East and the West, he had no choice but to notice that our land was representing for them but a confrontation place, an arena for their gladiators who were fighting without mercy in order to conquer lands, satisfying thereby the domination instincts of some visionaries today presented by their descendants as the founders of their grandeur and who make their pride. Our people fond of love and freedom has been reduced, despite himself, to a common reserve of soldiers who were raised at the service of causes which were rarely his. Our revolts initiated by the valiant Jugurtha, have never stopped. We are proud that our land and our people have given to humanity not but fighters.
We have not had to participate to the falsification of the History that the ones who have momentarily vanquished us wrote in order to self-glorify and depreciate us. We have not had a time off to write. We hardly pushed the European hordes towards the north, in an exhausting effort, that we have had to face the arabs coming from the East, on the pretext of islam, violate our land and our soul, violate our richness and our daughters in the name of a God that they never respected. They were saying they wished to bring us the freedom of Allah and they demonize our women of whom we were yet making queens, like the Kahina. Morally we were superior to them. Militarily, it took some centuries to overcome it. The Kabylia personality formation was then initiated. The Almoravids, fleeing the fury of the Almohads settled in Marrakech, brought the last sociological and human touch to the institutional edification of Kabylia stabilised since then. The North Africa, paying its infeudation to the Middle Eastern caliphates and to their insatiable needs of richness sank it into the Andalusia adventure, was disintegrated in a general confusion which will open the way to a new conquest of the subcontinent by European and Asia Minor peoples. In the wake of the Reconquista, the Spanish settled in the West and on the Kabylian coast, had to withdraw at the arrival of Turkish who established their control over a territory going from Tunis to Tlemcen except for the kabylian enclave. The representatives of the Sublime Porte in Algiers had not but insult towards them in order to take revenge on this rebellious people who braved them and refused their authority.

It was France who, after her two victories over Kabylia, 1857 and 1871, made our people lose the control of his destiny. In ordrer to recover it, he thought he was obliged to blend in a new identity, in new country, a new people, tailored by colonial France, Algeria. The commitment of Kabylia for the algerian independence was clear, total and massive and this since 1926 while the Oulemas, precursors of islamic terrorists, today slaughterers in the name of Allah, were shamelessly denouncing the independence activists in their writings. The antikabylism was getting thick.

You who are called to maintain the memory of our sacrifices for the generations, who will follow you, need to know that as Kabylians, we forgot in our struggle for Algeria, even the fact that we have been a people. We, of whom the parents gave themselves as an offering to the Algerian independence, grew up, like our elders, in the nationalist fervour and wanted to make of our country the most beautiful and the most prosperous one in the world. Our love was and remains complete for this land irrigated with our tears and our blood, this homeland reflected in the betrayed eyes of our widows and our orphans, came out from the death rattles of our fighters who were breathing their last under the torture their torturers in the colonialism cellars or, after, in the slums of the independence political police. Our attachment to this Algeria, of whom the most of its kabylian liberators have no ulterior motive, was sensual. We were fighting in Kabylia thinking to all Algeria of which we wanted to change the dictatorial regime to democracy, the torturer system to the one of human rights, the school to the one of science, of progress and of modernity in order to better integrate ourselves in the world of freedoms. We were fighting for collective identity, the amazighity, thinking to be helpful to other Algerians who would to finally share common values and a found brotherhood feeling with the pride of the same origins. Our way was mapped out by the North African Star of 1926 through which Kabylia was committed to take in chargeb2e80f548773bdbef21e3cefe5f4b684the destiny of the whole subcontinent. Our struggle has always been generous, oriented towards others interest instead of the Kabylians and Kabylia one. From the armed insurrection of FFS of 1963, till the black spring of 2001, going through the Berber spring of 1980, all the kabylian activists have only one objective, making Algeria conform to their common dream. We were all getting, blithely, Algeria and Kabylia mixed up. It’s at the end of a long process that we became aware of the impasse in which we were. «A militant doesn’t bring into question his cause; the conviction force wipes away all the proofs of its refutation»

Today, shall we condemn or thank all those who have never stopped to bring us back to our identity reality and this since the accession of Algeria to independence? Shall we incriminate or congratulate all those who, from inside or outside of the algerian state, in the street or in the administrations, put our algerianity down to an insult rank, to a blemish, to a national shame or, in the best case, a threat on the country unity? In any case, the blackmail used on us to choose between being Arabs or not being Algerians is of the same type as the one to which the colonialism was subjecting us, being Christians or not being citizens. In this country where we are not immigrants, any power who wants us to substitute to our identity and our language the ones he imposes on us, is of colonial type. After the language, who can stop him to ask us to change our skin, our face, and why not, our status of free human beings to the one of slaves, or even to beasts of burden? No! Our dignity imposes that we have to come to terms with ourselves and not with what racist despots want us to be. We are Kabylians and we make a people proud of being it. This is a fact that the algerian government would better be advised to assimilate and consecrate by an appropriate status so as to offer to the region and the country the reconciliation and the stability of which they are deprived of since forty years. In April 2001, in general indifference, a massacre was perpetrated in Kabylia by the governmental forces. The shock caused by these events led us to rethink our approach in a radically different way. We felt betrayed, excluded a bit more from this Algeria who shows compassion towards the Arabs of the Middle East while kabylian mothers and fathers weep alone over their children mown down with the algerian military bullets. We have since then taken again the elements of our story one by one, starting from the creation of FFS till the black spring of 2001 and each element of the puzzle got its place back. The Kabylians were systematically marginalized in the struggle for Algeria: Either in 1963, or in 2001 going through the eighties, the creation of the Human Rights league in 1985, the Kabylians were rejected; our political organisations were never able to federate the majority of Algerians. After such analysis, our reflection was directed towards an overall solution. First of all we want to protect the integrity of the country while providing the kabylian people the possibility to govern his destiny as he wishes without actually bother his compatriots but without more hope that these ones share his aspirations as far his language, his culture and his religious practices are concerned.

You who, already, support our destiny burden and who take up the challenge to build, for the next generations, a future protected against violence and injustice, know that the interests at stake go beyond those of individuals and their careers, those of groups and their chapels. No one of us has the right to pretend having priority before the Kabylian people future.

Let’s stop belittling ourselves. Those of us who defend seriously and with abnegation the legitimate rights of the Kabylian people deserve our respect. It is still too early to get lost in debates which will be raised only once we have a state proper to our region. The ideological problems involving society choices for Kabylia are important but not the moment. Once we got our autonomy, it’s up to us to vote for the party or the candidate close to our opinions. Let’s identify ourselves to this American Indian who was asked if he was, politically, from right or left wing and who answered: « I am the bird! »
It’s between your hands, young kabylians, that I put this message which, for me, has the value of all the sufferings and of all the hardships that our people had to face throughout the ages. Each word here expresses our generosity and our respect of ourselves and others. I hope that it brings all Kabylia today’s expectations and those of her future which can be achieved only through a kabylian state.

Tomorrow, if our autonomy option proves to be below or above the kabylian people interests, it’s your responsibility to readjust its course.
Like our predecessors, we did our duty; it’s up to you to do yours, to go further.


Translated into English by Muhend Arezqi

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