To my family I was the hero, there was nothing I couldn’t do, they have total and utter trust and pride in me, and I ate it right up.
Then a few more years later, when I woke up form my glory daze (pun intended), and stumbled across a network of Algerians living in London, graduates, professionals, highly educated, smart and interesting people…I was pleasantly surprised and shocked at the same time, I am not the only one?
I thought I held the National flag here!
A sudden panic takes over you and the realisation that whatever you have achieved, someone else did it better and all the years of delusional eminence come crushing down on your average sized brain and your mediocrity rushes up to the surface.
I had to investigate these intruders and find out in what parallel worlds we have all been living all these years, and discovered a brilliant albeit not a very large network of young Algerian professionals, graduates, researchers and artists etc… who have been living in the same world-apart dream, probably in the studies phase, integration phase or the wow phase AKA the tmakhli3 phase, a lot of these individuals were obviously busy building the foundations for their new lives or careers, most of whom never crossed path, to their/our knowledge at least, or perhaps they crossed paths but refrained from direct interaction due to the famous Algerian sense of mutual suspicion and judgment.
You: Who goes there?
The Others: Euuuu a fellow Algerian Academic
You: That cannot be, I am the only Algerian Academic here. Imposter.
The Others: Yeah and I am Stephen Hawking
Now if we attempt to analyse the cause of this, we can argue the following:
Algeria is relatively underrepresented in the UK and the host population is generally ignorant about the Algerian culture, geography or demographics, which makes the rapport ambiguous as they (Algerians) remain somewhat of an unknown entity with no known cultural references as is the case of the Italians with Pasta, the Egyptians with the Pharaohs or even the Olive Oil which is now linked to most Mediterranean cultures except that of Algeria. Instead Algerians feel stigmatised with Terrorism which they feel angry about since they were the victims and not the perpetrators.
They feel they have to fight for their culture and presence in the host country, always arguing what is Moroccan and what is Algerian, what is N. African and what is Middle Eastern, Berber or Arab. They may feel belittled and insignificant in the face of a world that does not seem to acknowledge their importance, their contributions or their talents, they certainly may feel frustrated about their culture being highjacked and unrecognised, which pushes them to over-achieve, compete and perform to prove they are worthy, capable and developed young people who are no different to any of their counterparts out there.
In the process of becoming Algeria’s super heroes, Algerians scrutinise each other and remain very suspicious of each other, they generally hold a low and quite negative opinion of their compatriots, they blame each other for the bad reputation Algerians have acquired on the international scene, evidence of this is clear when certain Algerians tend to stay away from the community if any and from anything Algerian generally, when abroad, which makes forming a community more difficult or at least a lengthy process.
Algerians in the UK remain a smaller group compared to other more established and cohesive ethnic groups, to which they may belong or feel they belong. This ambiguity about not belonging to the Arab world or to the African world, has been discussed in very few researches, Dr. Caroline Nagel (a Researcher and author from the University of S. Carolina) has highlighted the effects of belonging to the ‘Other Other’ category in the UK census as “a feeling of marginalisation in the UK discourse on the politics of race” but we should stop here and not divert too much from the topic.
Having said that, in the last few years, and this has probably not been documented yet, we notice that few associations have sprouted here and there, mostly with hidden agendas and armed with the old FLN mentality, these as you might have guessed have been created by the over 50’s and have yet to have any real affect on the community or creation of;
What is really interesting is how the Young Algerian Elite group that flourished and stabilised after years of studies and research, are now in stable and permanent professions and lives, have taken the initiative to create a cohesive community and rapport that is built on mutual understanding, trust, empathy, music, literature, academia, culture, integration and the odd political focus.
Such associations are to name a few: The Algerian Solidarity Campaign http://algeriasolidarity.org/ who despite their very political outlook and mission, remain a prominent community reference for the young Algerian professionals in London who gather at every event and mingle, talk of politics, culture, Music and the mother country.
The first Algerian radio in the UK, www.rihetbladi.com or The Caravan of Andalusi Music association etc, is another example of these newly created community groups that serve a purpose for inclusion and cohesion, to give the Algerian community in the UK a foundation and a platform for communication and strengthening their relations, and to raise awareness amongst the host nation about Algeria and the Algerians, and of course so we all stop thinking we’re the king or queen of everything, other people have done it before you and realise that other Algerians have also studied in renowned universities and obtained PHDs, speak English as well as you and are all under 40 or thereabouts. We’re all flying the flag and as it turns out it is you who are the others.
Dz-Chick…humbled by her fellow Algerians
Links to read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerians_in_the_United_Kingdom
A very interesting piece of research to read: http://www.icar.org.uk/9567/navigation-guides/algerians.html