On November first, 65 years ago, the Algerian War for independence started. Eight years and about 1.8 million deaths later, the war ended. Algerians have since understood that the dream of a free Algeria that our ancestors had has not been achieved however, instead of giving up, we should fight for it in a different way. This new view continues to manifest itself more strongly in the minds of Algerians each week encouraging change in the political system. However, before talking about this, let’s examine how the war started and why people have been insatiably insisting on the independence from the actual political system for more than 30 weeks.

The Algerian Nationalist movement was founded by Messali Hadj right after World War I. At that time, Algeria, like every other french colony, fought for France’s name and honour.  Of course, our efforts as colonies were never fully recognised. In my opinion, that’s why Messali Hadj created the ENA, a party in France that was in support of North African independence, which then evolved into a desire for Algerian independence.

In 1954 the “Army of National Liberation” or ALN group in French was created as a parallel to Messali’s peaceful independence. They started fighting in the Algerian war with about 100 untrained soldiers. These soldiers attacked a bus filled with french citizens and killed everyone inside. This marked the start of Algerians fighting the french colonizers for freedom. Nowadays, history tends to remember the ANL only and has totally forgotten Messali Hadj and his idea of a peaceful independence even if he created the algerian nationalism and had a great role in our history.

In February 2019, Algeria’s population stood up and said “no” to a fifth presidential mandate of Abdelaziz Bouteflika who was one of the leaders of the ANL. He was the living proof that ALgeria is not done with its independence while he was celebrating the anniversary of his 20th year in power. Out of those twenty years, there were six during which he was physically and constitutionally  unable to be a president.

Since February, every Friday and Wednesday, Algerians have marched in peaceful strikes for the departure of the military political system. On the major strike days, there are over one million people in the streets fighting for their rights – 65 years after the start of our independence war. I find this correlation interesting because it shows how the war ended— in a bloody, destructive, and wrong way. 

When I see on the news what is happening in Algeria, my home country, I immediately think of Messali Hadj and how we should have listened to his idea of independence. Now, we are paying the price of war for the second time . Our ancestors fought for a dream, but those who were supposed to lead that dream, the system in power, prioritized their self-interest. Now, we see people fighting for the same dream in a new generation of true and proud Algerians. Algeria belongs to Algerians, not to her government!

Racim Bedjaoui

About Racim Bedjaoui