So this month I learned more about Algeria, a country I knew next to nothing about when I started, and what I did know tended to be skewed from European ideas of North Africa and from French colonial sources (I’m looking at you, Camus).
Algeria has been through some turbulent times in recent memory, and a lot of excellent works come out of Algeria that dig into these times – the colonial period, the war for independence (notably in film then and now), the Black Decade of the 90s (both in literature and film), and the current Hirak movement, particularly with its connections to football. Linguistic minorities like the Amazigh also fight for better representation, and there are deep conversations and introspection about Algeria’s current relationship with France, especially as so many young Algerians cross the Mediterranean for better opportunities, legally or not.
In addition to the heavier political and historical lessons, I’m glad I also got to experience some great parts of Algerian culture – both modern and classical music, comedy, radio, podcasts (lots of podcasts!) and of course, incredible food. I had the good luck that that it was Ramadan for the first half of the month – in addition to being a beautiful holiday, it is a time for lots of great food! I got to try three batches of Algerian snacks (1,2,3), pastries, stew dishes like chorba frik and lham lahlou, and my favourite – rechta with boureks.
Algeria is also such a beautiful country, with a huge variety of landscapes, from the Sahara to snowy mountains. There are incredible feats of architecture and stunning ancient history as well.