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The Kabyle challenge (2/2)

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Read The Kabyle challenge (1/2)

Culture and “Kultural” 

Before embarking on any huge task, such as to create a state or to found a republic or a constitutional monarchy, we must give a very strong cultural base to the institutions that govern them. Put into perspective the local heritage and this at all levels: architecture, art, hard and soft sciences … and not the opposite, as we usually proceed in oral societies, that of transforming everything, even scientists matters, into folklore.

In the olden days at the markets how many times we heard charlatans sell their filters named Boukrat, that is to say Hippocrates. Not only we adapted the Greek name of the illustrious physician to local ears to become Boukrit, and worse, we made him the undisputed leader of charlatans.

What Malraux says about culture should enlighten us in questioning the folkloric dimension that we attribute to the terme Kabyle culture: “Culture is the set of all forms of art, love and thought, which, over the millennia, have enabled mankind to be less enslaved. ” Jean-Marie Hordé, director of the Théâtre de la Bastille, meanwhile allows us to distinguish between culture and cultural, that is to say a habit acquired in folklore.

“In other words, culture is not the cultural. Culture is not the song of habit. Culture is also the learning of freedom. What it means to be free? ”

– We understand by this that only culture is able to free us from the chains of cultural

This is how Italy, in the sixteenth century, moved from cultural to culture, from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Italian artists will bring to light the legacy of Greco-Roman antiquity. This change begins with Giotto (around 1266-1337), Italian artist who will influence many painters of the fifteenth century. We are rediscovering the art of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Interest is raised about the ruins of Roman monuments, excavation and collection of antiques are increasing. Greek and Roman literature was already studied in monasteries and by medieval elite who kept those texts in the form of costly manuscripts. But from the fifteenth century, the dissemination of knowledge in Europe to a wider audience has become possible through the invention of printing. We re-reads texts of ancient literature that address human and intellectual values. Following this, a humanist movement is born. While God was at the heart of medieval thought, the Renaissance puts people at the center of its concerns. The Renaissance is not only a return to the ancient Greco-Roman cultures, but also that of modern man, who managed to break free from the grip of God, to become independent, responsible and master of his destiny.

If we now try to include Kabylia in this process of universal cultural evolution/adaptation, we are forced to conclude that it is still in the European Middle ages. The dominant and very presente religious thought  put the human aside, everything is God. Just read the quotes from the master of the “Kabyle thought”, if indeed one exists, in this case Cheikh Mohand Oulhocine, through ancient poetry and ancient Kabyle literature for realize it. Although a cultural and humanistic incursion tried to work around this religious discourse to speak about mankind, particularly by Francophone writers and the Vava Inouva generation. This revival movement struggled and still struggles to break through, because the environment, very religious, is hostile.

Cheikh Mohand Oulhocine and Si Mohand Oumhand continue to dominate the Kabyle literary production. Two strong personalities, very influential, whom some Kabyle intellectuals present us as universal. But why didn’t the French translated them, unlike Omar Khayyam or Nazim Hikmat? If Mammeri, to save what remains of the “culture”, has built a pedestal to these two characters (which they certainly deserved in the quest he had set to save from oblivion pages of Kabyle literature), they later became more important than himself, great writer, researcher and academic. These two religious figures could not be a source of cultural or civilizational revival, they have become an obstacle to a different way of seeing the world. These two characters established as standard of the Kabyle culture were more, rather paradoxically, vectors of tradition and religion, that is to say all that remains to strengthen the position of God and place it at the center of the universe. One as a local self-proclaimed prophet and the other as a pious blasphemer in the eastern line of Omar Khayyam. They are too rooted in the cultural to speak to all men, to make them humanists, unlike the ancient Greek and Latin authors who, despite their remoteness and strangeness, talk to the depths of the human soul. And besides the Europeans did not hesitate to take Apuleius from our hands because he, like Ovid, Virgil and Lucretius comes from the Greco-Roman culture. But which Kabyle intellectuals care about Apuleius today? Except that he is of Berber origin, no one is interested in his works or the rightful place he deserve as an author of universal dimension.

The Kabylia of Cheikh Mohand Oulhocine and Si Mohand Oumhand is not only mediaeval but by their position of cultural references, they do not allow any possible return to the legacy of Greco-Roman antiquity, which for us is a prerequisite for a possible Kabyle cultural renaissance .

The Renaissance is not an act of cultural resistance, but breaking with the chant of habit.

The return to the Greco-Roman Antiquities will undoubtedly trigger the rebirth of the Kabyle human and kabyle culture  and take back its place in the universal and humanistic context. Thus the Kabyle will also dream of human rights and freedom. These two objectives can not be achieved with Âibadllah/Slaves of Allah or other ghas âazizedh ay amdan, yif-ik Rebbi/Even if you are dear to me, O man, God is better than you “ .

The return to antiquity, it’s the return to the human, to religious tolerance, art, freedom. This return, even if it will cost us a lot of time and sweat, will be, in our view, the only way out of the dark ages which have maintained and continue to keep us in the labyrinthine darkness of a subculture and a sub-civilization.

Rupture is saving, provided that each of us sees its task as that of Theseus: to overcome the Minotaur of folklore and traditions of another age, you need a breadcrumb trail. Theseus would never have managed on her own to get out alive of this maze. This is what the Kabyle must hear: our own cultural resources are not enough, we must water them at other sources.

For us this breadcrumb trail can only go through antiquity, so despised and  ignored by ours, but so rich and necessary for the challenges ahead.


By Ameziane Kezzar & Mohand Lounaci

One comment on “The Kabyle challenge (2/2)

  1. Pingback: The Kabyle challenge (1/2) | Kabylia Blog

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This entry was posted on 12/11/2016 by in Historie, Kultur, Religion and tagged , , , .
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