Monday 14 February 2011

Bleddard vs. Émigré

Some call them les émigrés, we respectfully call them les Algeriens de France (or Belgium...etc), they call us les Bleddards derived from Le bled (1), a derogatory term which has a connotation of the under-developed, illiterate man.

Back in the 1980's, France-born Algerians came in heaps as they flood through our ports in their estate cars and their "Sacs de Marseille" to see their cousins and visit their parent’s villages, go to the beaches and spend their time playing the white man in Africa at our expense! with their Tati (2) wardrobes and their condescending behaviour towards the local Algerians, sporting their favourite LeCoq sportif tracksuits and bringing their leftovers to their "needy" cousins who would welcome them with open arms and accept gifts graciously not mainly because they need them but also because anything coming from FRANSSA is obviously superior (Colon complex etc).
Thought: Algeria circa 1980s reminds me of Economical-embargoed Cuba circa now.

Having grown up getting visits from our cousins who resided in the 50th Algerian province “Marseille” they  visit us on summer holidays and we visit them during winter holidays. We were required to bring date, couscous and they would bring the items Algeria didn’t have but craved mainly fashion and bananas! Oh les bananes weshbik!

Now that Algeria has opened up to the international scene (and bananas are available) and our generation has grown up, we realise our naivety and childish obliviousness to our cousins’ condescendence and false superiority which has now transformed into an inferiority complex...

Algerians of post-independence Algeria grew up in their own land, enjoyed free education and suffered no discrimination or bigotry from any oppressor like the France-born Algerians did whilst growing up in France, where they were never welcomed and were in fact treated like 2nd class citizens, always made to feel unwelcome and never really at home regardless of the length of their presence or the fact they were born there.

This same treatment was mirrored in Algeria, the feeling of not being at home when they visit their parents' homeland and however much they might feel Algerian at heart, they can’t help but be part French and therefore different to us or at least they are made to feel it from the same Algerians they used to play White colon in Africa with. Revenge or inevitable consequence?

Now in 2011, living in the UK, we meet theses same Émigrés who used to look down on us, well tried to anyway, being in the UK which is a neutral ground for the French, les Émigrés and the Algerians, we are all the same, UK rules apply to all of us although to a different degree in certain areas like border access and passport control but that is not the main concern of this blog. I spoke to a number of Émigrés and they all confess to feeling at ease here in the UK where they can belong or just be themselves, they can choose to be French, Algerian or both whenever it suited them.

Though, I noticed their behaviour towards the Algerians has changed and an inferiority complex seem to have developed as suspected, they feel that the Algerians enjoyed a better life and were/are able to make a good life for themselves here or anywhere they may go, great adaptability and integration into any society whereas they have a harder time integrating when they grew up in a segregated group, growing up as 2nd generation Émigrés, born in poor families with predominantly illiterate parents who came to work the factories in France and re-build Paris after the World War II not able to offer many prospects for their children especially in a racially prejudiced society like France where they were not encouraged to integrate and were labelled “Les Musulmans, Les Arabes” which has become almost synonymous with under-developed, unemployable and in some cases dangerous.

Why do they (les émigrés) treat Algerians with such despise and arrogance?

As a sweeping generalisation and my humble social analysis and view, it is because in their own opinion or in the opinion of the average émigré (Miloud, Othmane, Zoubir and Faroudja): They lived in France, they are European and should therefore systematically be our superior especially since we were their African cousins they used to give their leftovers to and come to take us to the beach with them and buy us Ice-dream, because they can speak French better than us, which isn’t necessarily true and absolutely doubtful in some cases and because despite all their “advantages” we Algerians still come out on top with better jobs, better development prospects, better travelling opportunities, better family values, better traditions or use of AND better English accent.
Le bonjour chez vous Mouloud, Zoubir, Othman et Faroudja (3) and no offence!
(1) Le bled: Country, used in Algeria to reffer to the ancestral village or origin
(2) Tati: French couterpart of Primark
(3) Common Algerian names - Fictional in this blog of course!


  1. Enjoyable always

    keep up the good work


  2. Hmmmm
    I think I disagree wiht you here.
    Most of the French Algerians I know
    are proud of their Algerian roots.
    There is also the third generation now, which is starting to integrate and travel away from the French trappy hell of ghettos and get more oportunities (I know of an endless number in London from an extremely sexy Beurette PA to the head of MENA desk)
    These French Algerians saved the lives of hundreds of thousands of familiies in Algeria through arranged marriages during the black decade. And they got betrayed in a big way.
    Let's face it Algerians dont tend to do themselves any good going arround playing on people's daughters and killing innocent people.
    And then we wonder why we have a bad reputation and why people want to distance themselves from us

  3. Interesting read.

    I personally never felt that in the 80's emigres from the family were expressing arrogance toward us by handing over sweets, fruits and Tati clothes, I viewed them as presents coming a place that was different from where we were living - and don't forget, back then the choice was limited in dz. It didn't have to be from France (we are naturally more alert to them because of their large number), but even those coming from Morocco or elsewhere were expected to bring something with them, as a way to share the fruit of their labour with the larger family.

    True that we were silly in longing for everything coming from overseas, but I like to see the positive side of, and think that this practice tries to echo a more ancestral Arab/African tradition of sharing with the close ones.

    I just hope that you're not developing - unconsciously - a feeling of arrogance toward those emigres who still perpetuate this "tradition" ;)

  4. :) Ikosium I think you've seen through me...I think I am getting more and more arrogant towards les émigrés!

    I like your positive approach and your "glass is half full” view on this, I guess I should try to be less cynical and see the good side of things like sharing and helping close ones.
    Thank you for your input; it always helps shape my view to hear someone else’s

  5. I echo Ikosium's comments. I think this post and the one about the Berbers/regionalism in Algeria are overdone.
    Come on Dz-Chick, you can write better stuff that those judgmental clichés! Or is it hormonal again?:)

  6. Anonymous 3 - I clearly state that am generalising and that it is only my opinion what I thought and wrote in this blog post. However for the Diversity and Tolerence blog post, I think it is a reality and not a generalisation on my part, I was marely stating facts...please read it again :)

  7. You are the "Émigré" now my dear!

  8. You can't whether I am or not. You say you are an Algerian living in London, that makes you an immigrant, doesn't it?!

  9. It does make me an immigrant yes, however in my blog post's context I am not an émigrés, I am referring to the France born Algerians and their relationships with the Algeria born Algerians (me).

  10. If they are French-born, then, surely, they are not emigrants.

  11. Again - the context of the story is growing up in Algeria we call them all Les Émigrés, my blog does start with: "Some call them les émigrés, we respectfully call them les Algeriens de France"

    And yes I am the emigrant now I guess but I don’t go back to Algeria and expect people to fuss about me and pretend to bring a whiff of civilisation with me in my suitcase, so the attributes of the emigres as known in Algeria dont apply to me.

  12. I 100% agree with u 3omri .. being Bleddard myself (proud of it and thx god I am not Beur) and living in UAE for many years now, I saw how they treat the Bleddards in Algeria and here in the UAE.. not to mention the problem of Identify they have got!!! Tried to hang out with some of them and it was a big mistake I swear to god… in fact I feel sorry for them

  13. Strange, your page shows up with a red hue to it, what color is the main color on your internet site?

  14. To anonymous who lives in UAE, don't waste your energy at feeling sorry for us my Algerian brother!! We are actually fine! We have no identity problem, we are both French and Algerian, it's really not complicated but I wouldn't expect you to understand!

    You Algerian-born don't seem to have a problem claiming Zidane and other successful French-Algerians as Algerians, evidently we are Algerians when it suits you, similarly to the French.

    @DZ-Chick, now this post had me laughing out loud but also tickled me.We referred to Algerian born as bleddards because they are from our country of origin, our bled. We didn't call them Algerians as we wanted to make the distinction between us: Algerians in France and them the Algerians from Algeria. Our parents were bleddards, don't forget that dear!

    Now the term 'emigre' doesn't refer to me but my parents, I am actually French of Algerian descent. I am very proud of my roots and je les revendique avec fierete. I am also proud to be French but above all I am French-Algerian and that is my identity and I love it!! I don't look down at my Algerian born brothers and sisters in any way as that would be looking down on my parents. How can we feel superior because we were born in Europe??

    I have never been to Algeria so I couldn't relate to the 'colons' invasion you have mentioned but it cracked me up!! Of course I didn't have a tati wardrobe because my mum is a wahraniya and she has class, la tchitchi man!!! Nonetheless I am aware that those 'emigres' used to break the bank buying presents for their family back home not to play 'white man in Africa' but because it is cultural to offer gifts, I do the same when I go back to France to visit my family. I can't imagine going empty-handed!

    As for the inferiority complex, lol sister!! I don't know what beur you have come across but they were insecure because they were insecure not because they are beurs! Although Algerian mothers tend to compare their offsprings with their neighbours' and friends' which has resulted in many beurs/beurettes feeling frustrated.

    You compared us, beurs, children of uneducated emigres (fair statement as a general rule) to the Algerian bourgeoisie in the UK, the parallel is unfair. It would be more appropriate to compare us to the working class, uneducated Algerians, same footing sis!

    As for speaking better French, we spot out the middle-class and upper-class Algerians by the way they speak French, et oui les algeriens qui ont grandit dans la pauvrete en Algerie parlent tres rarement le francais et s'ils le parlent, c'est tres basic!
    Rightly so many uneducated French-Algerians speak slang and their french is appalling, I blame the parents!!

    On that note DZ-Chick you are my Algerian sister and I couldn't care less if you were born in Algeria, France, Italy, America or China, we are ONE!!!
    By the way when we watch an international competition we support Algeria all the way! However I hate hearing one, two, three viva l' sounds so naff, tacky, a bit like Tati, lol!

    PS: Tati is much worse than Primark dear, c'est pour les kholotss.
    Many harragas dress their children in second-hand shops #just-saying


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