Last modified: 2014-04-26 by ivan sache
Keywords: kabylia | berbers | crescent (red) | star (red) | letter: ezza |
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In Kabylia, Berbers are represented by two political parties and one cultural association (as of 2001, see below for more recent movements):
The Berbers expected acknowledgement of their specificity after
their participation to the independence war (1954-1962). Anyway,
president Ben Bella said in 1962: "We are all Arabs".
Following the arrestation of the writer Mouloud Mammeri, who had attempted to give a lecture on classical Berber poetry, the "Kabyle Spring" started in Tizi-Ouzou in 1980 (with the birth of MCB), and thousands of demonstrators were arrested. President Chadli claimed: "We are all Berbers arabized by Islam".
In 1994-1995, the "satchel strike" involved thousands of Berber students who stopped attending classes. Following the strike, teaching Berber language in the Berber-speaking areas was proposed and the High Commission for Amazighity, attached to the Presidency of Republic, was created. However, lack of funds made teaching of Berber more virtual than real.
In 1996, President Zeroual revised the Constitution, but the main claim of the Berbers, the acknowledgement of Berber as the second national language of Algeria, was once again rejected.
On 30 April 2001, President Bouteflika said: "Identitary revendication also has a constitutional component, which can be accounted for only by a constitutional revision", but his loose speech strongly disappointed the young Kabyls. The situation is still very explosive.
Source: Courrier International #549 (10 May 2001)
Ivan Sache, 29 May 2001
Flags seen during the commemoration of the "Kabyle Spring" - Images by Nicolas Rucks, 20 April 2000
TV5 showed images of the Kabyle people commemorating the "Kabyle Spring" today in what seems to have been a huge demonstration. One flag
was quite similar to other Berber flags,
only the shade of blue was darker and the symbol was definitely drawn
at right angles.
The other flag I saw was the Algerian national flag defaced with the same symbol, in yellow, on the white portion of the flag.
Nicolas Rucks, 20 April 2000
Kabyle flag seen in Montreal, Canada - Image by Luc Baronian, 20 June 1997
I saw this flag in a nice litte Kabyle restaurant in Montreal,
L'étoile Kabyle. The owner first told me it was the Berber
flag, but when I asked him if it was used outside Algeria, he
said he didn't know.
The flag is 2:3 (approx.), gold, with the black symbol that was reproduced everywhere in the restaurant (on a calendar, on the walls, on the ceiling with colourful clothes). The owner told me that the flag is a symbol of liberty, democracy and prosperity.
Luc Baronian, 20 June 1997
MAK was founded by the singer Ferhat M'henni and the linguist Salem
Chaker in Kabylia in 2002, during the "Black Spring", a period of
unrest that followed the unexplained death of a Berber student in an
Algerian gendarmerie post. The movement held its first congress at
Ighil Ali in August 2007.
MAK calls for the wide autonomy of Kabylia, not accounting for the other Berber areas. In his book Algérie : La question kabyle (2004), M'henni, President of MAK, writes: "It is not the duty of the Kabyles to liberate the Chaouias, the Chleuhs and the Berbers from the oasis of Siwa. [...] The grievances of Kabylia should be considered only within its natural borders." This is a clear (counter) reference to the ideology of MCB, an organization that claimed in the 1980s to be part of the "Movement of the Amazigh people, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Egyptian oasis of Siwa".
According to the sociologist Abdenasser Djabi, the "withdrawal to Kabylia" of MAK is a consequence of the failure of MCB. The historian Daho Djerbal considers MAK as a radicalized Kabyle movement, mostly operating outside Kabylia and not supported by the local elites, who accuse MAK to try to solve the Kabyle question from abroad. Daho further adds that the "natural borders" of Kabylia claimed by MAK were indeed set up by the French colonial administration and that population transfers ordered by the Ottoman administration prevents a clear definition of the "Kabyle people".
The Kabyle Provisory Government (ANAVAD - Anavaḍ Aqvayli Uεḍil; official website) was proclaimed on 21 April 2010 in Paris by MAK. ANAVAD is presided by Ferhat Mehenni, also President of MAK. The
official gazette of ANAVAD (bilingual, Kabyle and French) was
established on 23 May 2010. Mehenni delivered the presidential address
of ANAVAD (text) on 4 June 2010, presenting the government appointed on 1 June 2010.
On 1 June 2011, the government was dissolved by Decree No. GZM/2011/01/ ASAN/06 (text). This was the result of the resignation of five out of the ten ministers in conflict with the president. A new government was appointed the same day by Decree No. GZM/2011/02/ASAN/06 (text).
A public contest for the design of a "Kabyle national flag" was
announced on 20 February 2013 by Ferhat Mehenni (webiste).
Citizens are invited to submit proposals including "symbols and colours of their own". However, "ANAVAD believes that Kabyle national emblem should be based on the today's Amazigh flag, from which it should be differentiated by Kabyle specific features. For example, it would be appropriate that the olive tree, symbolizing ANAVAD, was included in the proposals".
The eventual selection of the Kabyle flag will be made by the "Kabyle Flag" Commission appointed by ANAVAD. The commission, presided by Ms. Kamila Adli, is made of some 15 members from Kabylia and elsewhere. The flag could be a synthesis of the proposed elements, colours and models.
Within 45 days, the commission is expected to deliver a progress report to ANAVAD. In partnership with MAK and Réseau-ANAVAD, ANAVAD will convey an extended Council of Ministers, which will validate the flag.
As for the Kabyle national anthem, a Kabyle Constituent Assembly will have to approve definitively the flag.
Ivan Sache, 24 February 2013