A Week in the A: Welcome To Algeria

In addition to our fun facts sections, we will be taking a deep dive into ALL the wonderful countries that come together, either voluntarily or circumstantially to make up our beautiful continent, mother Africa. These are the states who, despite fighting tooth and nail for their sovereignty, have withstood countless wrongful references, assumptions and generalizations that comes with being part of Africa and still continues to forgive (and forget, at times) all the misinformed foreigners who call Africa a country. For the umpteenth time, Africa is a continent, please. 

And while we would be more than excited to start at some of our favorites pit-stops in the A, we’ll be more streamlined and organized in our profiling, just to confuse the enemy (and everyone else who still gets shocked at the thought of Africa or Africans being any closer to sanity)

First stop is Algeria, a real true north. 

The historic North African state boasts of lots of attractions like Maqam Echahid, Ketchaoua Mosque in addition to sharing the Atlas range of mountains with her neighboring states. But for this write up, we will be more inclined to the culture and music of the Algerians. Despite close to 80% of the whole country being part of the Sahara desert, Algeria is in no way dry of talent. For a country where alcoholic drinks are a rarity, we will definitely have a sober mind while writing this. 

Algerian music offers a rich diversity of genre like Shaabi – popular music, Malouf San’aa, Gharnati – Arabo-Andalusian music, classical Arabic, Bedouin, Berber music such as Kabyle, Shawi and Tuareg. As well as Rai, a creative outlet to express political discontent. What I like about the Algerian music is the fact that most of it is spearheaded by women. The music of Algeria has evolved over the cause of period, adopting, assimilating and merging with different sounds from parts of the world namely France, Spain and Egypt to create what is currently both pop and folk music. This journey was never easier. Being largely an Islamic state, the evolution of music was mired with constant criticism by the subsequent governments, especially those deemed a bit obscene or like in the case of Rai, too vocal about social injustices.   

But music lives on. Like the rose that sprout out of the concrete, music knows how to survive the test of time. 

Genres that opposed or rather were unable to undergo commercialization such as Malouf are still being performed, though reserved for occasions like circumcision and weddings. 

Rai, on the hand, continued to evolve, constantly reestablishing its strength as a viably commercial genre. Throughout the period, Rai was the single most genre that attracted keen restrictions from the authorities. Being complex in nature, it has always looked to demystify the religious and trans-nationalism of the complex Maghrebi culture. Yet, it’s the genre that crossed-over to the mainstream through tape sales, TV exposure and radio plays. One might wander why or how? 

In this week, we will be looking at some of the renowned Rai artists and how they managed to keep the genre alive and profitable as well as emerging trends in Algeria. 

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