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


  1. Next time ...hide in trafalgar squar right after our next win ll be shielded from it all ..

  2. Don't you worry I was there watching from afar like into a zoo, not all obviously, a lot of my friends were there and i don't see an issue with our crazy celebrations like we just walked on the moon, but most of those diving into the shallow waters of the fountains and others setting fire to God knows what. it felt a lot like watching the Discovery Channel and that is to me an Algerian let alone to someone else

  3. (Algeria)"...above all loyal to itself and
    to its team, winning or losing (unlike the English
    If England fans weren't real fans they wouldn't keep coming back, despite all the disappointments, but they do. The impression you give is that England fans feel like they somehow deserve to win and get angry when they don't. It isn't that. The frustration for most people over the last few years is that too many players have looked like they don't even want to be there.

    And after Harry Redknapp's recent comments, we actually know it's true.

    England are bad in competitions. When they lose, but do it bravely, I love them. I get angry when players who can do amazing things for their club can't even get the basics right just because they're... what? In a different country?
    It mystifies me.

    So, I disagree.

    I still like your blog, though.

    And Algeria are still my second favourite team, despite the fact my Algerian friend is lording it up over me every bloody chance she gets....

  4. Gamera I always thought the English fans were ungrateful and always gave a hard time to their teams! They come back because it's patriotic to do so and they always keep a little hope that the old glory days of English football will come back.

    Algerian fans are more like with you winning or losing. but who's comparing :P

    Think Algeria won itself a lot of new fans with this new young and vibrant team and the way they've been playing! Hope you're watching the game tonight, it's monumental Alg vs. Germany 2014 (Alg vs Ger circa 1982 will get a mention or two, you think?) ;)

  5. Hello Anna of Spana!

    I will watch the game as well with some friends and try not to choke on the Chorba!!

    I know in Brazil they'll break fast at 5.30pm, half an hour into the game I think, which hopefully could help with the hydration, I don't have to worry about the players, I am sure they're used to playing and training during the fast, however, what you say about the no win situation is quite true, though nobody is going to go down the "they didn’t win because they didn’t fast" road.

    They are allowed to break their fast, some of them just chose not to. We shall see what happens...Eeek

    I love comments like these :) thank you, love it when my blog and my rants are actually helpful to someone trying to get to really know the "Algerian".

  6. From the beggining of the world cup, when every game involving Algeria begins, I go out for a walk or a ride in deserted streets and highways... When the fury begins I'm already home.. I listen to the commentators on the radio, though.. Not totally a heretic ;)

  7. Phew! I thought you're a heathen!!
    You sound really normal....I am bored!

  8. yes ! I'm normal enough to see the entire game against Germany.. they were really good ! we played one of the favorite teams of the world cup and we could have won the match !! (previous anonymous was me ;)

  9. Hahaha stop being so normal Homo Erectus!!
    How are you these days?

  10. In these ramadan days, acting like a real heathen.. I won't say more ;)

  11. Congrats on the Germany remake!
    One Two Three VIVA L'ALGERIE

  12. That's the Wantotrisme I mention when some of us care more about the Palestine (and I am not saying they shouldn't - I sure do care and I am highly affected by the tragic situation) than they do about their own dying in Ghardaia the same day, the same week.

    We have no problem brandishing the Palestinian flag, but never the Amazigh Flag, as if it were a sign of blasphemy or rebellion if you were not in fact Berber, rejecting therefore the very unity you're pretending to celebrate.

  13. "We have no problem brandishing the Palestinian flag, but never the Amazigh Flag, as if it were a sign of blasphemy or rebellion if you were not in fact Berber, rejecting therefore the very unity you're pretending to celebrate. "

    Yu said it all :)

    dadathwen eldjoudhi ..from beyond the atlantic ;)

  14. So that was you Dadathwen! :)


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