18 February 2017

Niggers in Algiers: An Experience of Blackness in Algeria

"Why write this book? No one has asked me for it. Especially those to whom it is directed. Well? Well, I reply quite calmly that there are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it."
Black Skins, White Masks - Frantz Fanon

It is night time as the bus speeds through the Maghrebi countryside on its way to Algiers. I prefer taking the late bus and arriving at the crack of dawn. That way, my weekend is not consumed by the eight hour trip between Tlemcen and the capital. The loud chatter of travelling has given way to a peaceful silence; most of the people in the bus are now asleep and just a cough here or a gentle murmur there rises above the quiet hum of the engine. My eyes are fixed on the distant peaks of the Atlas mountains picked up in stark relief by the waning moon but my thoughts range far and wide. I hardly ever sleep in buses, and perhaps having a clear head is what saved me that night, I shall never know. 

They are in the bus almost as soon as it comes to a halt at the road block. Green fatigues and clean shaven chins, guns slung over their shoulders, more guns in holsters by their sides. The Algerian military police make no mistake about looking formidable. Almost everyone in the bus has come to life but everyone remains calm, it is their country. I, on the other hand, having lived through so many similar police check points have a rough idea of what is to come. 

"You! Come." It is more of a bark than a method of communicating with me. My black face in the sea of Arab and Berber faces has marked me out. They make no pretence of checking anyone else. I am the foreigner, I am the one to be inspected. I put on my jacket and walk quietly to the front of the bus as whispers gather all around me; some of them are snickers bordering on laughter. Outside I am made to state my name, my destination and my departure point. I am asked about my occupation and when I reply student they ask for my student card and passport. They inspect those two in the headlights of the idling bus for a very long time as they discuss in Arabic amongst themselves. We move to the baggage area of the bus and I am made to open my bags and they ruffle through the clothes, letting some fall to the tarmac. Above me I can make out more than one face eagerly watching the cinema going on outside. One of the police officers picks up my toothpaste, opens the tube and a dirty finger brings the paste to his mouth. Finding the familiar taste of Signal he closes it and hands it back to me, I refuse it and throw it away. An argument has broken out amongst them in Arabic. I stand quietly, watching them argue, noticing from the corner of my eye the driver growing impatient with every passing minute. 


Algerian Armoured Van
By Yacine612 (Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0) link

Come with us they tell me, in French. I protest about my bus leaving me, they tell me to ask the driver to bring anything else I have left in my seat. Why I ask? Their reply is in Arabic. At this point I lose my temper and a torrent of English escapes me. I am going nowhere until they tell me why they want to detain me at two am in the back of beyond for no apparent reason. One of them tells me they don't understand English, I retort; neither do I understand Arabic which you have been hurling at me for the past few minutes. "You don't speak Arabic? You are not from Mali?" He asks incredulous. For FUCKING crying out loud. My passport says Zimbabwe, how the hell do I come from Mali with a Zimbabwean passport. I am almost shouting now, the bitingly cold night air, the frustration and the fear of standing in the middle of nowhere with four armed men is threatening to overwhelm me. The police officers start laughing, we thought you were from Mali, that your passport is fake. Many drug dealers come from Mali. You can go my brother. Bon voyage!. It is all a misunderstanding, my blackness must have confused them. 

My blackness seems to confuse a lot of people in this land that Assia Djebar called 'a dream of sand'. By the time I leave the country four years later, events like this will have ceased to be existential crisis' and developed into major and minor irritations depending on their severity. Being called L'africain by people at my faculty including the University professors as if my identity is intrinsically tied to my blackness and their geography has conveniently located Algeria on a different continent. Being asked if we have cars in my country and how on earth I had managed to make the 9000 km journey from Bulawayo to Algiers - the idea that airports and planes existed in deep Africa would draw mild squeals of surprise and in one case, stubborn disbelief. My faculty is at times a jungle I have to navigate, never quite knowing what will elicit surprise or scorn, or a condescending mixture of both. 



As seen on Twitter during the African Cup of Nations match, Algeria vs Zimbabwe
Source: AJ+

I do not claim, nor will I ever, that people like this were in the majority, no. Most of my Algerian friends are friendly, warm, sympathetic and amazing people. But one must speak of those who were not amazing, those who were not warm or sympathetic; those that would  constantly try to tear down your world and trample on it

The world outside the university is no better. One day in summer a group of us, all black Zimbabweans, decide to go to the Nokia showroom. One soon discovered that shopping sprees are a good way to get over the ennui of homesickness and the boredom of nothing to do. The guard has his eye on us the moment we walk into the building. People stare as they are wont to, black people walking down the street can be met with anything from indifference all the way to hostile stares. He follows us around, literally breathing down our necks. We stoically ignore him, determined not to let him cow us into submission. We have every right to be here as much as the next person we think. But soon we can no longer pretend to not be bothered by him trailing us from stand to stand, and I begin to wonder if we should just leave. As I think this, he leaves and the tension in the group visibly breaks up; we think we have won. But not for long, he is soon back with a can of lavender air freshener which he begins to visibly and purposefully spray in the area around us. 

We leave. 

And that is what I learn to do. Leave the situation as fast as I can. Leave when the children of a beggar on our way from church start running after us and calling us baboons. Leave when the police stop me at the bus-stop from town and conduct an intimate search of my person that borders on molestation (there is a world of difference between patting and squeezing). Leave when a fight breaks out between the Cape Verdian students and the Algerians - the Cape Verdians had been called savages by the Algerian team. And soon I pretend not to hear it anymore. Pretend not to be deeply hurt when an old woman refuses loudly in a bus to let me sit next to her. By then I know what kahlouche means and I make my way to stand at the back of the bus. And on the day I leave the country for good, my heart breaks when my Algerian friend literally turns red in the face at Zenata – Messali El Hadj when the airport staff loudly say good riddance to another baboon. He is angry for me, furious at them in a way I have never seen him ever become. Angrier than even I can bring myself to become anymore. I hug him and tell him it doesn't matter. Ignore them my friend. But they are shaming my country for you, he says. No, I reply, they are shaming themselves. 

But is it shame? I wonder sometimes. Wonder what brings a man, woman or a child to have such hate based on what? Prejudice? Stories of a dark continent filled with wild savages and lions heard in infancy? Pictures of war and famine repeated ad nauseaum on CNN and BBC. I remember one day walking along a highway from visiting a friend at the girls residence (University residences here are gender separated). I was tired from a long day and just wanted to get back to my residence so it all seemed to happen at once. The grey car slow down next to me, the window rolling down and the bottle of water splashed in my face. "Baboon, baboon!" they screamed as they rejoined traffic and drove off. I was too amazed to be angry; the effort of slowing down the car when they saw me, looking for the water bottle, opening the window in the middle of a busy road? For what? Does the fear of the colour of my skin drive that? How deep does it go and what depths of rage dwell there. Rage against what? I dried myself with my T-shirt and walked away. 

Beyoncé, Formation
Source Youtube

Again, I cannot stress enough that up to this day, France included, Algeria is the most welcoming country I have ever lived in (including South Africa....that is another story). I cannot stress enough that most Algerians are wonderful amazing people, just as most but not all people are. I write this for those people who are not wonderful or amazing, I write to ask them of their fears, write to ask them what in my blackness scared them, scares them still. I write to those who fear brown people or white people. Those today who fear Syrians and Iraqi's to the point of blocking their borders to them as they flee a war that they did not start. Because the same fear that drove that car to a stop near me, that guard with an aerosol can behind me, those soldiers with their guns in in my face is the same fear that drives them build a wall. I want to ask: What do you fear my friend?

I write for those people of colour who everyday quietly suffer indignities and just leave. I write to join those who stay and stand up for themselves. I write for those people who have experienced these gentle reminders of a world not built in their image and I write for those who have never imagined it could happen, that it still happens; everyday, all around them. The quiet Arab professor living in France who always has to identify himself at the University gates as his white colleagues walk by. The young black boy who knows better than to carry a backpack into a French supermarket like everyone else does. I write for those who would say to me and others, 'Why does everything have to be about race? Get over it, it's all in the past, we should move past issues of colour. I don't see colour anymore.' 

Yes, you don't see colour because we are always leaving, always running, always fleeing. By the time you open your eyes, there is nothing left to see.

What do you fear my friend?
Trayvon Martin Hooded, Wikimedia


NB: In light of the overwhelming feedback I have received both in the comments section and via private messages I stress again the fact that this article is not take away from the majority of Algerians who are honest, warm and hospitable people. This article is to raise awareness for those who did not know about racism and to make those who do know reflect on some truths that are not generally spoken of in 'polite conversation'. Please find below some links to other articles I wrote about happier times in Algeria if you still have any doubts. 

Gracious Golden Girls | Did you know that Algeria has a life expectancy that is 30 years longer...

Half Lost in Translation | Let’s take a walk down the Rue de Martyr’s in Algiers...

Goodwill Hunting | Shopping in Algeria is an art....

Football Wars | It is everywhere you go... 

96 comments:

  1. nice stuff bruh.

    I remember once when I was still there in '15 I was walking through a parking lot and this kid stuck his head out and shouted 'kalusha' at me. I just stared back at the kid(6-8yr old) daring him to say it encore. but his mom dragged his tiny a%% back and slapped and rebuked him.

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    1. Lmao, daring him to say it encore! Thanks for sharing.

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    2. good Mom
      I am algerian and living in europe. After living through racism here myself I find it disgusting how algerians today are racist to other kinds like black people and chinese people who are immigrants in my homecountry. Like they forgot how they were treated by the frensh for 132 years, as if they didnt learn anything.

      We live in algeria while the media and the environment tells us that the white is more beatiful than us, even blond blue eyed girls are made like levels above our own kind. Fuck that shit

      My apologies for all victims to racism, and I hope the next generation makes it better.

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  2. This is a good write, I really liked your conclusion.

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    1. thanks, don't hesitate to share ;)

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  3. I think each one of us who stayed in Algeria experienced it...u really reminded me a lot...but Algeria still remain one of the countries I love

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  4. You couldn't have said it better Brother, the experiences we have gone through but choose to keep to ourselves most of the time, thanks for showing it to the world.

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    1. Thanks; we should share these experiences, speak out and stop leaving. We should be lions when people like that attempt to break us.

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  5. I would like to answer to your question : "I want to ask: What do you fear my friend?"
    I am deeply convinced that my fellow Algerians who express/act the way you described, are afraid of relating to you, more importantly afraid of not being considered as white people. I recall having a strange discussion with one of my aunties (whom I consider is racist but she would never admit it and never express frankly the contempt she has for black people, in fact she would probably even consider herself liberal, but anyway). We were in a car driving in Wahran about 10 years agi (we are originally from the East and the family has been settled in Algiers for generations, but she spent few years living in Wahran and I visited her then). Nearby the open market there was a black algerian family and few steps away some black migrants. For some reason I forgot since then, we started discussing about the family and the migrants. She kept on referring to the migrants as "The Blacks here" with (from my perspective) some contempt in the voice and to the black algerian family as being the algerians. Black in her words meant foreigners. While this algerian family with the same skin color was not black to her. She just couldn't admit they had the same skin color of the migrants, despite my direct question regarding the color line she was drawing. I remember she explicitely answered "mais t'es aveugle ils ne sont pas noirs ils sont algériens!" (but are you blind they are algerian not black). I know this aunty is deeply "complexée" to the point where she get her dark hair blond and speak in french to anyone (a fruit street seller included for instance which can be ok in Algiers city center but is ridiculous anywhere else). My point is that to her, admitting that one can be black and algerian in the same time is just reducing her "whiteness" and these type of people are just so afraid of being linked somehow to some identity that would deprieve them from the possibility to pretend they are white. It s really like the hate for darja or berber, languages that embody how estranged from middle east or europe we are in fact. It s just the fear to be who they are, African people. I would be curious to know whether it makes sense with what you (and readers) have experienced.

    I also have a question : have you noticed whether this happens in urban areas more than rural and whether old people (60/70y) would also express contempt to you ?

    Finally, thank you for your text. I wish it was translated in french or, better, in darja and berber, so that it could be read more easily by people there.

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    1. Thank you Anonymous for sharing that story. It's always interesting to hear someone speak out, and speak out bravely. I met so many people who are complexée beyond belief (they exist in Zimbabwe too). I remember my teacher in Blida used to sing the praises of the French Republic it was almost as if she hated being Algerian. Colour is a difficult issue in Algeria mixed with so many other issues like language (I had Kabylie friends who had their own experiences of living in Algiers) and ethnicity (don't get me started about the Tlemcenians and the way they view Arabs).

      To answer your question, in general Algiers and Blida were the most difficult places to live for me personally. Tlemcen was calmer and things like this happened very very rarely whereas in Algiers it happened more often than one could count. As for age, I tended to only socialise with the young so that was my main source of interaction with Algerians. The only older people I can point a finger to were the police, their contempt was very visible as well as frequent. But like I said, all these people were in the minority and the majority of my friends were wonderful people who made my four year stay there an amazing part of my life.

      That's a good idea RE French, I will try and see if I can get someone to translate it to French (I don't trust my own level of French lol).

      Thank you for your comment and sharing, it's always a pleasure to hear from a reader.

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  6. im really sorry for the racism you faced in my country . we are all africans they are afraid to admit it , stay strong

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    1. Don't be sorry, just speak out when you see such things and hope for the best in future :) Like I said, besides such incidences, I loved Algérie!

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  7. this is disgusting btw I am algerian and I know how shitty algerians can be

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    1. Some can be disgusting and shitty, the ones I wrote about here but for the most part; most are wonderful people. I just hope the not so wonderful ones learn the error of their ways one day.

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  8. Thank you Bro for your amazing words, I am Algerian and I am really sorry about this. You are welcome in Algeria

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    1. Thanks, I hope to return one day...

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  9. As an Algerian ,I am ashamed and I am sorry you had to go through all this :( I didn't know these mentalities still existed ,they disgrace Algeria and they disgrace Islam!!!

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I actually wrote for people who didn't know such things still existed. Do not be ashamed, they shame themselves, your country is still one I love and cherish the time I spent there.

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  10. I am sorry you had to live all this. It must have been awfull... as an Algerian person I most certainly see this outrageous demeanor and I condemn such behaviour, we are muslims and islam theaches us that we are all the same and that we must respect everyone equally. Now all those who did act that way with you I must say that they are narrow minded and, most certainly, do not represent the real image of the generous Algerian ppl.

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    1. Yes they do not represent the real image of Agleria, they were the exceptions and I speak out to make sure they become even more of a minority, hopefully one day this will be a thing of the past :)

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  11. Hey dude nice write up, I've been to Algeria a lot of times and although I am not black, I have seen black people experience subtle racism from the local Algerians, it fucking sucks, I'm sorry ma.

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    1. Thanks dude. It's complicated. I have seen even white french people being discriminated against. Minus the minority of douchebags it remains a lovely country.

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  12. Trayvon my heart ached while reading your story i feel anger but mostly pity for these ignorants i am very sorry of what you have endured during your stay here and behalf of the civilized Algerians that remain i apologize and finally want to say that i am very thankful that you spoke out.Proud African Algerian

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    1. Thank you for being a proud African Algerian! Don't be sorry, what didn't kill me only made me stronger.

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  13. Dude! BEING a dushbag isnt really a matter of ethnicity or nationality.. if pple just stick to their humanity regardless to their skin color the world would be an amazing place to live in . Stay strong bro .. anyway i would ve invited you to " shakh shoukha" you know the traditional dish.. you r welcome in algeria .

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  14. Well another thing to be ashamed of��. I apologize for every wrongdoing you endured .my heart breaks for everyone the racists for abandoning morals and Human Rights and the victims of racism for being subjected to humiliation by lesser undeserving beings. I myself am an algerian of darker coloring and it's funny sometimes to see they think it's flirting or a complement to call me by my skin color. I hope this gets translated and becomes widespread to make people realize that words do hurt and everybody deserves the right to be.

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    1. I often heard about what darker skinned algerians went through and it made me sad. I used to tell myself no matter what I went through I could always tell myself one day I would go home. I just hope you stand up to the minority of people who do this and that such things will become a thing of the past.

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  15. Words cannot express how ashamed and heart-broken I am to read this. I am Algerian and it saddens me to see this. Yet I cannot deny it for we even have racism spread among each other! Where people in the east despise those in the west and those who live in the north think themselves superior to those in the south. The strange thing is that even in Algeria those who live in the south are of a dark skin and are as purely Algerians as the rest of us and yet we see and hear of these practices all the time, let alone with someone from a foreign country.
    I know that apologizing would not make it any less aweful but still I do, on behalf of all of us Algerians who welcome people from all over the world regardless of their race, religion or skin color.
    Your story has touched me deeply and I admire the amazing person you are and how good of a writer you are!
    I hope that you would come back here and find that things have changed someday....

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    1. Thank you Imene for commenting. Please do not be ashamed on their behalf, they do not deserve your shame. I wrote to shame them and not the amazing people who are the majority of Algerians and who made it, on the whole, a lovely country to live in. Yes you are right, incidences like this are too common and I do pray that one day I will come and visit and things will have changed,,,both for foreigners and those from within the country who are discriminated against. My classmates who were not Tlemcenian often told me of how they were discriminate against because they came from outside the Wilaya of Tlemcen, it was sad to hear their stories.

      Take heart! As long as people like you stand against such there is no reason to lose hope. Vive l'algérie!

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  16. i hope u'll forgive us...those shitty people who did that doesn't represent all the country...ps: i'm algerian nd u're welcome....nd stay strong it happend for all people!!

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    1. Thank you! I will definitely come back one day :)

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  17. People here in Algeria are still not aware of the hard consequences of their silly jokes and remarks, and paranoid behavior, how hurtful and painful they are to people like yourself.
    As for those like the ones who threw water at you, or the guard, they are simply disgusting, pathetic and horrible human beings.

    In the end, I don't know if it counts for anything, but you should know that there are Algerians who are horrified and disgusted by racism, and who stand with you.... I'm sorry for everything you went through in my country and by my people.

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    1. Thank you Abdou. I just pray that such incidences become ever rarer and that people like you speak out when you see them. Thanks for the comment. I will always love Algeria & I hope to visit again one day. :)

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    2. I will not lie and say that I have always publicly spoken against such incidents, like many, I'm a coward and a selfish person who just fears interfering.
      But starting today, I will make it my goal to always voice my disapproval and stand up to racism.
      So you should know that what you wrote actually mattered and it will actually help fight the problem. Thank you.

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  18. That's the world black man. The moment you don't want to leave your confines because you just don't know who's going to make your blood boil,the moment you don't know what to do when a police van comes your way, the moment you don't want to look the fluffy haired in the eyes as they walk towards you knowing that they will shift their hand bags to the other arm. the moment when you think your blackness is a sin. This is my Africa, my friend.

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    1. It's a sad world is it not? I am done not speaking up anymore. Sometimes you don't want to be the angry black person by the corner but then sometimes if you don't become that person nothing will ever change. I just hope one day being African will be a thing people look upon with envy.

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  19. I loved ur writing and I really thought i got u guys problems figured it out but I just realised that I didn't.
    It's heartbreaking, but it's gonna take so much more than just a bunch of f€¥$€ ignorant losers with them bottles and closed minds to break one of u guys, that's why I always say to my friends, I have a huuge respect to these forgeiners coz unlike most of the ppl complaining about the smell (which does not exist) they fight life, they make it happen for them, the kinda of things they go through can break the toughest lazy a**hole from u

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    1. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I won't lie, it was probably one of the most difficult periods of my life (and probably the fact that a plane ticket cost a fortune helped me brave it out) but as you said, it didn't break me, and I made some of my best friends there.

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  20. I echo all the sentiments expressed by people in your comments, I am a non-confrontational person so I tend to keep my head down,I've always tried to talk some sense into the people I know but never confronted strangers,and now I see that not speaking up is just as bad,let it be know that your words have touched me deeply and that I have decided to be les passive, I will remember your words and call out prejudice and racism no matter how "subtle" or "small" it is.
    I do hope this article can be translated into French and Arabic so we could work on having it shared online and maybe even contacting a newspaper about publishing it.
    I take solace in the fact that you are a smart,kind hearted and very strong person that rose above those kinds of things but it still saddens me that you and other people went and are going through this.

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    1. "I will remember your words and call out prejudice and racism no matter how "subtle" or "small" it is." - then you will have made writing this post more than worth it. Thank you!

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  21. So much touched by what you have been through in my country, no one denies the fact that there are a lot of ignorants and racists even between Algerians.
    We are all sorry for that. And indeed we need to speak up for such acts. We are all human beings.

    Welcome anytime in DZ bro.

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    1. Nous sommes tous ensemble! I will visit one day trust me. Shukran.

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  22. Hi,
    Sorry that you had such a experience in Algeria , racists are everywhere nowadays, I think some people like to try how it feels to be racist, because they suffered that by themselves in europe or at least they heard a story or two about racism from someone they know , I wish you visit Algeria again ,and get a better experience.
    Take care dude

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    1. I will and I know I will love Algeria as much as I have always loved it. It is a beautiful country with good people, the few do not spoil the many. Thank you!

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  23. This is an Amazing piece.. I wish the world at large could see this..

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  24. Dear Mr. Zikhali,

    Thank you for spreading the truth in such a beautiful way. I am an Algerian, and to be honest, I did not know that these people existed in my own country. I always criticized the west for their racism toward us, but I have never thought that the same thing was happening under my feet. During my bachelor at USTHB, I used to have a classmate from Mozambique named carlos. I wish I read this back then so that I would have tried to get closer to him and keep him protected from these ignorant people. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story with the world and I hope your message reaches the intended destination.

    best luck,
    Zakaria

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    1. Thank you Zakaria! My hope is just that it changes the way people view incidents when they happen or offer support to those around them. I know it made me very conscious when i went back home to how we treated foreigners (we Zimbabweans are far from perfect too).

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  25. I am so sorry that you had to experience this, but I am glad that the issue of racism in Algeria is being addressed. In the western world, we've mostly turned our attention towards the racist rhetoric brought about by a growing populist tension across Europe and North America. However, closed-minded hate and discrimination have long been festering in the Arab world. My origin is Algeria, and I do love my country, but I find the racism there truly hard to swallow. My best friend is from Zimbabwe and I have often questioned whether I should even bring her to Algeria one day, for fear she might experience just a fraction of what you have had to endure.

    All I can really say is I'm truly sorry, and that I hope enough awareness is spread to the people in Algeria, so that we can work to open minds and improve the situation there.

    Salutations, from a fellow African!

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    1. Nous somme ensemble fellow African! I am sure, and I know, the good overwhelms the bad especially with people who care and are good who are the overwhelming majority. Thank you.

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  26. Roomie.. this is some deep stuff. I remember all these stories like it were yesterday.. for me i was like sticks and stones yall. Thats how i survived all the 6years. Because at the end of the day when you think deeply about the insults and crazy words thrown at you, you end up forgetting about the magnificent Bejaia Beach, the beautiful El Ouja scenery, the maverlous streets of Algiers that utter deep sentiments while you walk on them, the beautiful golden sight of Algiers from "La grande poste" at 11pm during the month of Ramadhan,the Majestic Tipaza Ruins,the infamous Bourmedese Beach, OMW! Did i mention the Amazing "Le Metro" that slithers under the city of Algiers while the world above obliviously continues with its daily routines ooh-lala!, the fresh mountains of Djoudjoura covering Tizi ouzou which look exotic when a blanket of snow covers them in the cold period of winter.. anyways. All am saying is excruciating as it was to experience those police control points by the Genderms, and the insults by some people, i would lie if i say i never enjoyed Algeria.. id visit over and over again!! The land of Chourba, CHAWARMA OOOH LALA JE t'ASSURE!!!!!! Let me stop before i finnish my ink..lol. last but not least... the infamous statements.. " c'est normal, normalement, sandwitch bien soigné, and the incredible "si t'as besoin de quoi que ce soit, tu m'appelles"... all i can say is Twahachtek Bizaf Al Jazair!!!

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    1. Yes tell them roomie! Tell them!

      "Si t'as besoin de quoi que ce soit, tu m'appelles" I promise you that is one thing that took years for me to hear in France yet in Algeria it happened in the first week!

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  27. Dear friend,
    I truly apologize for what happen to you on behalf of the rational intelligent educated people from algeria, my heart went tight reading your story,
    There is no excuse for such a coward shameless behavior. It's more ignorance, stupidity and prejudices and not even trying to know the other,We have in our own society a similaire phenomena,( you are arab, you are berber, you are from the north or you are from the south, you speak french or you don't ....)That's why I think that the problem is much complex not strictly against our african brothers or related to color.
    I'm sure that most of this people who gave you this harsh time, they never left the country and saw other societies,countries of a different culture and different believings, they probably don't even have friends from outside of their cities,
    And make no mistake it doesn't mean anything being a policeman, we locals have a bad time with them and their attitude. I can't imagine what a foreigner, who doesn't know this facts nor speaking our language, what they can experience with this bunch of idiots, who thinks that being nice and polite is a weakness.
    I wish I was in algeria at the time where you were there so I can show you the other image of nice, kind, loving, friendly and open minded people. because I use to be a student in the university of bab ezzouar and we had an amazing black african brothers,I wish that, the experience you had in algeria made you grow up and helped you to be stronger.
    I apologize for the second time for the bad time you had to experience without having any blame on it.
    Believe me there is a group of us who are trying to change this way of thinking in algeria, it will take time but it will change

    Amine from algiers

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    1. It was enough that we were together where we were, Algeria has always shone in the best possible light through you!!!

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  28. Trayvon I'm sooooo sorry for the experience you had in Algeria. I feel so ashamed to know that some Algerians are still thinking and acting like in the Stone Age. I feel horrible, they made you feel bad. Made you feel different. Believe me I wanted to hug you for all the miserable things they did to you. You needed love and support by coming studying in Algiers, and I home you found some who made you feel good about yourself. ❤

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    1. Thank you for the command and feedback, don't be sorry, I did find many kind and good hearted Algerians who made my stay in Algeria a period of growth, friendship and happiness. They supported me more than anyone when things such as what I have written about occured and they make me love l'algérie even now.

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  29. This was so beautifully written and I can relate to it 100% though in my case it is India not Algeria, I've heard many such stories from other Africans in other middle eastern and Asian countries.
    That same question baffles me.. sometimes I wonder what we really did to inspire such hate, visible hate.. it's insane.

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    1. *laughs* I have been to India, spent two weeks there and all I can say is it was 'interesting'. It is insane isn't it. But so long as people stay positive and fight it, maybe the insanity will be beaten one day.

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  30. Hello, I'm very sorry for your horrible experience here, I just can imagine how bad it feels to be alone against people staring at you all the time, and even worse, bullying you at times.
    I'm an algerian girl myself, and I am against racism in everyway, I'm not a selective racist like my most fellow algerians happen to be, who would be shocked if I say " i'm going to marry a black guy <3 " but would find it good if i say " i'm going to marry a white guy ". As you could notice, most people in Algeria are close-minded due to the culture and the dark history and long years of suffering that our population lived. No wonder you still find them trying to coope with outter cultures, do not take it personally, they are racist within themselves, people from the east don't like to mix up with others, people from the south who are of a darker skin would dismiss the ones who are even " darker " ... For shame, such silly motives, again I'm sorry for you, I've witnessed bullying against black africans here a lot, and I had to stand up once to a woman complaining about a black cute kid touching her saying " oh you and your diseases " ... told her that she won't catch a disease by touching him especially not the disease she mentioned " malaria" ... what a dumb racist, not suprising, considering all racists are dumb and ignorants.
    Peace out

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    1. Hi Tina, thank you for your comment. And bravo for standing up to people like that, it takes courage and sometimes I wish I had had that courage long ago to speak instead of just walking away. I really do get the facts of history and in most cases it is what helped me not take some things too personally. All nations have their demons to fight, so long as people are fighting thos fights as you are then there is hope.

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  31. Bongani,

    I feel your pain and your words are overwhelming. I am an Algerian girl who cannot agree more with what you said. I could I’ve wrote the exact same stories about being a woman walking and living in Algiers. And I found echo on what you said because I love my country as much as I love my parents. And it’s even harder to realize that the country where you were born and grown old can be unsafe and harmful. We have a lot to go to fight against ignorance and violence. Thanks for sharing your story, hope that it will find resonance in everyone’s heart. Your testimonial is what we need to create a wake-up call. even if it reaches few people let’s hope for a butterfly effect.

    Amel

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    1. I feel for you! I saw from afar the struggles girls and women went through and even Zaho sings about it. I hope you will write about it as well and act to change the people around you. Thank you for the comment.

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  32. Thank you for sharing your experience. First of all I wld like to admit the fact that I hate using labels cz in my opinion they are the trigger for all whts happening in the world today. White, black,muslim, atheists we are all humans this is our first identity. We are all here on this universe aiming for the same goal "success" but not at the expense of the"other". I'm an Algerian female experiencing the same treatment from the"White" ppl here in the UK but I always hv that sound inside me that one day things will get better.It's not only in Algeria nor somewhere else it's within the self. We have to learn how to satisfy the inner without harming ppl surrounding us. We hv to learn how to live along.. Keep it up ��

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    1. I feel for you! Be strong and thank you for your comments. It is a universal thing we must fight against.

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  33. I really apologise for what you've been through in my beloved algeria, brother,even us algerians may feel strangers in algiers believe me u open your mouth and they start calling you by your regions name, kabyle, chaoui,sahraoui I'm sure u have been introduced to these terms anyway make sure that ppl around here change whenever they get to know you good hearts are much more than those whom may look haters, you are always welcome to come back to algeria, by thr the way university is like jungle yeah especially if u have been to bouzaria, bouzhell lool, bless you brother

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    1. oh I remember the Kabylies versus the arabs. It is a universal thing, we also have our own version of that in Zimbabwe. It is sad and lets hope one day people will be seen for their true value and not where they come from and where they look like. Everywhere in the world! Thank you.

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  34. Dear Brother, Assalmualaikum

    I am sorry for you and for your people who are suffering from racism everywhere in the world. I hope algeria will be better, because I love it beacause its my homecountry. I have seen racism and lived through it because I grew up in Germany. And even here there are many wonderful openminded people. But racism is ugly, it is ugly because it is hating that doesnt give you an understanding, only hurting ananswered questions. There is nothing about your face or your language or your style that should provoke any racism. Only racist people have a responsibility about that matter. You cant expect an answer from them because there isnt one. There is no reason to hate somebody because of his looks.
    Most algerian people are even racist to their own kind, making european girls more beautiful than their own women. In my opinion the black people are stronger because they didnt give up their I deals to colonialism. In algeria I dont get it, Black people are the biggest part of our history in many ways, how one can be racist in algeria...I dont understand nad I dont deal with it. My method is simple for me: I was raised better by my parents and I will raise my children like that, so the next generation would be better in this world. My own Prophet muhammad saaws said that the only difference between human beings would be the way they fear and serve Allah and nothing else.

    Peace be with you brother, and together against racism ;-)

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    1. "There is nothing about your face or your language or your style that should provoke any racism. Only racist people have a responsibility about that matter. You cant expect an answer from them because there isnt one." <= This right there should be a creed somewhere. Thank you for your comment and feedback! Shukran!

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  35. i feel really sorry for your experience in my lovely country , damn! humains could be so stupid why? i don't no why we have have to be so wicked we should share love why wickdness is more easy than kindness why? i'm deeply ashamed , this is neither our educattion nor our religion, wish you the best and hope you ll have the opportunity to live beautiful things in our country, friendly , AYA

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    1. I did have beautiful experiences in Algeria, and I hope to have more. Check above for links to my other posts about living in Algeria.

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  36. Are you Muslim? are you from Mali? what do you think about Algeria? do you fast during Ramadan? did you come from Africa to Algeria on an elephant? do you live in trees in Africa. these are the typical question an ordinary Algerian would ask you. some of them very scary yet some very silly and some accompanied by utter ignorance. these are questions you would get from an ordinary student or university teacher. what would you expect from an extremist in the street?


    #GODOBORI

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    1. lol we used to call them the Five Questions!

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  37. Hello, congratulations for your honesty and your talent.
    I'm from Algéria and I shared this text yesterday on facebook. But many of us think that your work must be translated in frensh to be understood here. Can we obtain your conscent to share a frensh translation on a facebook group that young algerians created to defend migrants rights? It's called "Solidarité Migrants Algérie", https://www.facebook.com/groups/1711733195807247/

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    1. Thank you. Please go ahead, translate and share in its entirety as long as it remains balanced in the french version as well ie. the stress that this does NOT reflect on all Algerians, that is extremely important to me.

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  38. Here the problem really exists, but I mean that it is not only for those who are not Algerians.
    Come from another department and even from another neighborhood !, poor, disabled, different language, different sex or age ... and color is the option to add to the previous things that is easily discovered by these sick people .

    It is not worth quoting examples, but a whole book by a neutral person gives us a very clear idea of our morals and in which bog they swim, Thank you very much my brother.
      
    Sick people are everywhere but they are not all.

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  39. Words cant describe how shame i m at the moment

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  40. You've summarized it all. I guess I'll equally find the energy to pen down my experiences once I leave this place. You are right on the bit that a horrible act can make you forget an exhilarating experience at the Sahara. We literally dust off and keep walking. I'll need 1000 reasons to convince someone to come live here. Love from #Tlemcen.

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  41. You've summarized it all. I guess I'll equally find the energy to pen down my experiences once I leave this place. You are right on the bit that a horrible act can make you forget an exhilarating experience at the Sahara. We literally dust off and keep walking. I'll need 1000 reasons to convince someone to come live here. Love from #Tlemcen.

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  42. Let me first thank you for the well-written article, it was my read of the day. Now I'm not here to argue your point of view toward this minority of people in Algeria, but I do have an add up to what you wrote.
    Metaphorically speaking, I consider Algeria a big Island, its people raised a habit of rejecting anyone who doesn't look the way they do, raised a mentality similar to their government foreign policy ;total isolationism; to the point where if it's different, then it's bad. They built a wall that separates them from any other nationality/race/religion,and the lack of tourists helped on sustaining this wall.
    As a part of this society, consider me your Trojan, and let me tell you, it has nothing to do with you, you did nothing wrong, and the color of your skin is irrelevant, the individuals who treated the way they did, probably they can't even last 10 seconds with you in a civilized dialogue explaining why they do the things they did, because they wouldn't back their deeds, especially since they already realize what a shameful act to do ( it's in the Islamic holy book ;Quran; for crying out loud).
    Even it's sad, and painful to admit it, but this low-quality character is integrated in the Algerian identity, refusing anything that's different, this false pride.
    I envy your Algerian friends, for having an intellectual friend as yourself, they must've enjoyed your company, I know I would've.
    I beg of you, to remember Algeria with your friends, not with those who knows nothing about you; those who lacks any communication outside of their little box.
    I feel like the cause of racism, needs more attention, especially those days, after this new wave of "stop acting the victim role!" excuses, but I insist, racism isn't the issue in Algeria, but lack of proper interaction, if you walk at night in a different neighborhood than yours, it would feel like being in a different city than yours ;using your obvious strange accent;, which feels the same as being a black individual walking among Algerians on the street, the only difference in the last scenario, that it's the ease of targeting you, because all it's needed to mark you is a single look at the color of your skin...do please, accept my apologies on behalf of those who insulted you in any way, and even it's a minority, but let's both hope for this sickness to leave the Algerian mentality, which is well-known with its welcoming traditions.

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  43. I am algerianne i leave in algeria as well, that is right people from mali Nigeria generally south africa , called "black people" , are getting numerous here in algeria, I can not lie but I have never seen an Algerian being nice to a black neither at university or neighborhood , I live a Cote d'un poste police, and i can see how do police officers,cops treate them, how they heat them i can even hear how they can torture them. THIS IS UNFAIR as well an UNMUSLIM BEHAVIOR ,last time they'd bring a bus full of all black people kids and adults inside ,for no reason keeping them for more then 6hours in the bus I swear no one of them said a word or asked for the reason keeping them a hole day , and when I took them two battles of water I can not describe how happy they were too solids patient . THANK YOU FOR ABORDING THAT TOO INTERESTING SUBJECTS! My email marsdawa09@gmail.com waiting for more details with patient

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  44. Your text was very well written, enlightening and your experiences illustrate an often silenced and ignored form of everyday racism that needs to be more acknowledged and more fought against.
    If you're looking for a person to translate it in French, I would gladly do it. Thanks for tackling this topic.

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  45. OMG ! my heart is beating, my eyes started tearing......ashamed as an algerian who has always claims that we are an open minded society, a warmfull welcoming people !!! do we really still are as educated, as civilisated as always our ancestors have been ???? what happends to our society? to my fellow citizens , who themselves are suffering racism, in Europe in america in ..... a thousand apologize @Zikhali

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  46. Algerian post islamist terrorism generations are heartless religious fanatics with poor manners and human values !

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  47. I do appreciate ur post and i do understand ur struggle. I m human as well and i m against racism in all its pictures. But my friend. There are some points that u must understand.some where among ur words i coyld see a high amount of sensibility. life in algeria is very complecated even for algerians themselves. It s not a sin to speak to u in arabic or franch . Its not their mistake if they dont speak ur language. thats somethong u should deal with. Cuz u r the one who cant speak an understandable language. Besides. U must know that black skinned are not always foreigners. There are a big number of algerians who are black so i dont think that the color issue is a big prob in my country. Actually im a student in university of blida and i c nothing but respect from adultes. It s true that some kids are very bad but it s a minority.
    One more point. Saying that when u walk u are pointed and every body looks at u. I must tell u that its not becuz of ur color. Its just becuz the algerians are not used on having diffrent people among them. Even white people who come from europe and look europen are pointed on the road. Not becuz of racism. It s just an algerian habit. And finally. If people call u african its not an offense. africa is related to the black color just like asia is related to a certain shape of eye. and becuz we are not from the same origin talking about our amazighen origin. So we tend to call ourselves el maghariba. From libya to moroco. Just like people in the golf are called arabs and not asians. So again its not becauz of racism. Except for that algerians are very kind and helpfull. And from my point of view. I usually see a lot of black skinned who are rude. So even when we try to be kind with them they just keep on beeing rude. Trust me. I saw that many times. Anyways. Please when staying in that country. Please please try to socialize. If u dont u ll always be in the shadows. Its a general truth that i personnaly im suffring from knowing that im a white algerian citizen. Its all about ur way of living.we have the same problem but the diffrence is that U blame ur color i blame my personnality. Peace.

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  48. Hi, do you remember the person who asked for authorisation to translate this text? It's me and it's finished and being corrected by a friend. How can I send you the text? I don't want to leave my e-mail here. Maybe Facebook?

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  49. I am a black Algerian and I myself have already been a victim of racism so I cannot deny that Algerians have a sort of belief of being superior to black people though It's completely the opposit of what Islam recommanded us

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  50. let me explain why the cops checked you out(even they should have checked everyone but it's algeria...) i will come back to this point later on, algeria struggle with illegal african refugees as you can see when wondering around algeria you can see a lot of homeless black people , and a lot of other black people are known for selling hard drugs , fake money/money laundering even prostitution and guns as you might heard in the news/paper about dely brahim... any way i hope you get my point... i'am on your side as a Algerian most of the cops in algeria are some nasty douche bags, im almost sure if they checked the other passengers with you they might find at least one carrying illegal stuff... it's a sad fact but most algerian are racist against black people and asian people for no reason even if you ask them why the hate !? no one will give you a valid reason... i see it everywhere i go , when they see black/asian guy they callthem names/make fun of them in some cases violence ... when a black/asian guy go is in a store to buy something they make fun of him... i still don't get it how the fuck some people think , they think they are not human like us or they don't have brain as us or think like us, some poeple are just stupid and it's real shame to see this "kayenne chi les algerien lazeme yhatou radjlihoume f larde , loukane yroho lablad brania yfahmou kifache" but my dude don't worry there is a lot of good hearted algerian they see you for what you are not your color or race ! have a nice day salam

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