Friday 27 June 2014

Wantotrism dissected

Refusing to get into the grind of the World cup plethora, I shied away from facebook (the source of everything), from all the pictures and videos of Algerian supporters in Brazil and their antics between matches, but it proved an arduous task and an impossibility to anyone with any remote access to any kid of media, to avoid Algerian supporters or the ever catchy Wan To Tré Viva l’Algiré

My first thought was that Algerians needed an excuse to celebrate in unison, as though they’re starved for unity, to be all as one rooting for the same goal, pun intended, then I thought there’s more to it than that, at the sight of the several videos circulating online of our hilariously creative and other narcissistic supporters (Yes you!), brandishing their flags, passports and chemma* to proclaim their right to be THERE amongst these strong nations of football.
Amongst so many things I read about THAT, was this brilliant piece by Dadathwen Eldhoudhi called “Le Wantotrisme pour les nuls” and was absolutely gutted I hadn’t thought of it first, but it turns out there is a whole and actual bibliography written on the topic for over 40 years now. Do your research!

I guess Dadathwen said it all for me but not quite, so I am presenting my first amendment – My vision is somewhat different…
The Wantorism is often synonyms with Watanism, it involves a state of unconscious and often indoctrinated patriotism that often centres around sporting events, mostly international ones, where the perpetrators get to dive head first into a much craved National Unity, where only three colours are brandished, Green, White and Red and only three numbers are chanted One, Two, Three in a slogan complied of Three languages “One, two and Three.  Viva l’Algerie”.  It’s the trinity of Unity.

This induced sense of unity; much like the false sense of romance, music envelopes you in when watching a Hollywood flick and it jerks a tear out of your tired, emotional and ready to cry soul, wantotrism brings back thoughts of struggle, of the martyrs of the war of independence, a sense of overdue recognition and merit.
Algerians are very much like that; soft-hearted and hot-headed. Willing to stand against any transgression, ready to defend Algeria, Arabism, Palestine, Islam, Africanism (depending on the adversary), Syrians, Afghani and Iraqis but not Berbers, Mzab or Twareg, but their music is cool, so the colours will be brandished and unity will be celebrated despite the unexplainable chasm secretly felt but often ignored, maybe it’s imaginary or induced a la Hollywood! You know who's to blame!

The Wantotrisme is the Un-Researched and unfounded sense of ownership and achievement, of overzealous pride of all things “originating” from Algeria, Zlabia, Schumacher, Andalusi music, Islam (The religion not the player), Idir, Tinariwen, Gnawa music, Cheb Khaled, not so much Cheb Mami, any kind of Tagine and Deglet Nour. All chant the co-dependant national anthem and glee.
Wantotrism came about and became a culture, an integral part of the Algerian identity, part hooliganism, part nationalism, funny but irritating, proud yet shameful but above all loyal to itself and to its team, winning or losing (unlike the English fans).  It’s a gene, a mutation, every Algerian has it, the syndrome manifesting itself in some not others.

Some known albeit not very effective antidotes is taking oneself too seriously or being a Judas, at ones own peril. You have been warned.

 Dz-chick….A Prouder Algerian!
* a sort of disgusting sniffing tobacco

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Happiness and Shiny Hair!

I question myself; I ask questions, lots of questions, some silly like “why doesn’t my hair shine? “, others, more existential like “why am I even here?” and “what now?” and with every question, the need to question becomes stronger …so I ask questions, but never actively seek the answers, I never once stopped to ask Lilia how she gets her hair to freakishly shine like that or why I met someone so special, yet so different and so unattainable that I want him with all my might. So I philosophise a little to make it more bearable, meeting for a reason, the great unknown, destiny and other such terms only used in a timely manner and with careful consideration not to sound overly deep and depressing, even to myself.
So to take my mind off things, I hang out with specific friends, the shallow kind, the kind that worry about having shiny hair and collecting rich friends and the latest iphone etc…, I find it helps to relativise on my own life and achievements, or lack of. They don’t worry themselves about why they are here or what’s going to happen to the world if Shale gas is exploited or if World War III starts, they don’t think about Syrian or Palestinian people, they don’t watch the news, it’s easier that way.
I don’t discuss existential questions with them, I am embarrassed, they’ll think I was a geek, they’ll look at me with the same puzzled looks they wear (as much as Botox allows)  when they hear such words as “existentialism” or “neurones”, they’ll think I take myself too seriously, we discuss and laugh about light subjects, other people (not Syrian or Palestinian), we sing and sound awful, we laugh and sound worse, be merry and pretend life is AWESOME, that we are still young and nobody can see our wrinkles if we continue socialising at night.
After about ohhh a minute! I am bored out of my wits! So I hang out with other more existentially motivated  friends, who over-analyse everything and find comfort in learning and using geeky long-ass-complicated words, you nod when you hear them talk, like you understand everything, you will google it later anyway, sometimes you dare to ask what they meant, you ask your questions so intelligently they think you’re debating, sometimes your mind wonders to places and times when things were simpler and choices weren’t as multiple, you continue nodding and sometimes you even give an hmmm like you’re doubting the accuracy of their statement, then you snap out of your day-dreaming through time, past and future, you refocus your dilated irises and come back to realise there is no comfort to be found in the present.
Sometimes I walk past café terraces where people are drinking and laughing, leaving a theatre after watching a musical and I wonder if they’re truly as careless and free as they look, or do they all go home and think “well this sucks!”.
How long does that happiness last? Do we all put on a show for other friends and families? “The happy and I know it show”, or is happiness something that cannot be measured by conventional ways, like the GNH “Gross National Happiness” proposes!
I find myself drawn to the conclusion that only a time-machine can solve my dilemma, that or I find a median or the place where the lobotomised go, maybe where happiness is like a magic potion you can store in a kitchen jar for rougher times, that would stop you from driving yourself grey with existential questions that serve only to torment you and make your shallow friends feel stupider and where your hair is shinier.
The end.
Dz-chick….stealing from the past, selling it to the present…and calling it happiness!*
Inspired by Paul Hawken’ famous (or not) saying: At present, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.

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