“Najma” Kateb Yassin is more than a cousin men love

Before anything else, we must address a basic question here: Why did the late Algerian writer Kateb Yacine (1929-1989) dislike his colleague and “compatriot” Albert Camus, even though many Algerians loved him and many French hated him regarded as a great moral. writer? In a conversation that Yassine gave to the critic Kazem Jihad two years before his departure, he specifically said: “Albert Camus, in my opinion, represents the embodiment of the tragedy of the French in Algeria. The French have here in a closed society lived, they did not see us. They were reproducing France in Algeria and they did not see Algerians around them. It is true that they loved the country, its sun, its beaches and even the people , it is us, but as cute animals .The hero of Camus’s novel (The Stranger) kills the Algerian because of a nervous rage caused by sunstroke.This is a very significant fact from the point of view of psychoanalysis and others: Algeria to the French it was nothing more than the sun Camus was not Algerian. The tragedy is that many, including Algerians, thought he was the representative of the Algerian man. As for his writing, I don’t like it, and I do not like the moral not in his character. I am a revolutionary writer, and a revolutionary writer cannot be moral. When they confront you with destruction, violence and blood, is it reasonable to turn your cheek to them?” Doesn’t this talk reveal the hidden reason behind Kateb Yassin’s “hatred” of Kamo?

Algeria is not French

Our answer: Yes, without implying that we are referring to personal motives. Rather, Yassine felt that Camus was stealing his Algerianness from him, and prevented him – because of his position among the French – from being a resounding Algerian voice for them and in their language that Camus was master of. So, if Camus was known for his sympathy with “Algeria”, it was not Algeria itself that Yassine did not sympathize with, but rather worshiped it and adored its present and history, and he always wanted to shout that love in the face of the world. He finds Camus and his “moral and gentle” way of dealing with Algeria an obstacle. It is clear that Camus, in Yassine’s opinion, posed a danger to his Algerianness, and thus to the real Algeria, no less than the danger of the right-wing who did not stop declaring day and night that Algeria was French is not.

On the outskirts of the “tribal” areas

For Muhammad Khalouti, the son of a region of Algeria located on the edge of the land of “the tribes”, and who, as soon as he later enters literature, changes his name to Yassine al-Kateb, which in Kateb Yassin will change. in the French way of preceding the family name above the name of the flag, there is only one Algeria owned by him, her children alone and others to be guests. They will be welcome but as guests. Camus may be at the forefront, but they have no right to love Nejmeh, the woman whom many men love in his famous novel, even though she is married, and does not care for any of them, but even for her husband. She is an independent, beautiful, real woman. In fact, she is a cousin of the author, who has loved her since his teenage years, as others do, and when he plunged into writing, it was natural for him to write about her first, and then he would take it back in his later writings, some of which consisted of chapters he excluded from the first version of the novel, and some of which he once used as a symbol of Algeria. His self and times are a symbol of the priestess, that legendary Berber heroine who by writing about her, especially at a late stage in his life and writings, was keen to glorify the identity of Algeria, which dates back hundreds of years before the arrival of Islam and Arabism in this country.

From Algeria to Palestine and Vietnam

For Yacine’s author, there were several obsessions surrounding himself and his thoughts: the eternal Algeria, getting rid of the slavery of colonialism that continued to limit his country even after independence, the issue of women and their freedom, and the issues of Algerian migrant workers in the country that used to occupy their homeland. We would not exaggerate when we say that all his writings, whether complete, novel or theatrical, or in the form of fragments, revolved around these concerns. However, it would not be fair to accuse Yassin of populism and close his “narrow” national environment, just as it would not be fair to accuse him of being hostile to the Arabic language, for the sake of the French who he learned the occupiers, or for the sake of the Algerian dialect to which he took refuge when he replaced his “audience” of intellectuals and sympathizers The French to the Algerian people in general, in a heart that was essential in their life, as we do not forget here regarding the first dimension that Yassin was one of the best who wrote in their theater about Palestine, “betrayed Palestine,” as well as about Vietnam and the leader of its struggle, Ho Chi Minh, “the man with sandal rubber.” At the same time, he wrote about the “Two Thousand Year War” about the eternal Algeria, and “Mohamed take your bag” about the suffering of the Algerian workers in France. Regarding the second dimension regarding language, here is Kateb Yassin who reveals his distaste for that “dead Arabic” language that the media and the press in Algeria began to use after independence to further – in his opinion – express their adherence to an Arabism that “the Egyptians, Lebanese and Iraqis got rid of since I wish our media did the same, but we loved this language!

Najma and her multiple roles

Let us return to Najma, the woman as well as the “star” of the novel that made Kateb Yacine famous in France and Algeria as well as in the outside world. This star, after being immortalized by Yassin in the novel, will not disappear with the conclusion of this novel, but will continue to return to his literature, although of course not to his life, from time to time in her explicit name, but always anyway with several other names. So, under the name of a star, we will meet her in “The Wild Woman”, as in a semi-anonymous text of it, “Blood and Homeland”, but especially in the “surrounded corpse”, where in the midst of a pile of corpses filling the stage and signifying the sacrifices of a people for their freedom, we are surprised by a star who transcends that scene to a corner of the stage to stand stunned but resolute, her veil and abaya to remove, tearing her cheeks and going into a violent monologue complaining about what happened to her family, before going into a dialogue with Al-Akhdar, the same one we know as one of her lovers in the novel has – and in both cases we can see him as the ego/other of the author Self – a dialogue joined by a noisy chorus full of grief and anguish in the style of Greek theater, especially a female chorus that in its singing all the issues combine that Kateb Yassin often engaged in many of his writings, and here is recycled in theatrical games that the past mingles with the present and anger with sorrow. It also allows the direction of the possibilities to mix, as is the case in many of Kateb Yassin’s plays, between what is real and what belongs to the world of dreams. not to mention mixing, this time, not between Najma and Algeria, or Algerian women in general, but between Najma and that “priestess”. The barbarian leader whose struggle is part of an Ancient Algerian heritage, the restoration of which is usually considered a kind of provocation in the face of “reactionary ideas”, which many Algerian creators, not only the Berber tribesmen, saw as an obstacle to the restoration of this country’s identity!

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Play to free people

It should still be mentioned here that Kateb Yacine was born to a father rooted in his Arab culture as he was an imam and a jurist. The boy started his interest in literature early, so he wrote and published poems while still a teenager. also joined the Algerian Communist Party early and fought against the French occupation, was imprisoned and traveled to France and then from there. To many European countries, Germany, Italy and Belgium, where he became part of the struggle for the independence of Algeria and his plays were sometimes and sometimes banned, and when he left he became a great figure in France and the world to the extent that the French Minister of Culture at the time Jack Lang described him as “”A great poet who devoted his theatrical writings. to the liberation of peoples, and he was eager to combine in his writings the Algerian cultural traditions and modern living writing, especially in the French language, “which was in any case one of the great innovators in it.

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