…in the primary school of Isli n Umyis (1), not far than 1970’s, at the age of six, when I went to school for the first time.
Before then, I never met any Arabic-speaking people. The rare ones, appearing in the village were the beggars, whom, as was the custom, were given dried figs, olive oil or any other kind of food.
The only words I heard from those poor creatures, were “Taam Rabi ya lmumnin”, which, in Arabic, means “Charity in God’s name”.
It is many years later that I knew the meaning of those words.
Now, back to my first school days:
Instead of finding my people, teaching my language, I, surprisingly, found weird persons, with weird features and behaviors, speaking a weird language
The very first language I was taught at school was…Arabic. Not my language.
Instead of developing the knowledge I acquired that far in my own language, I was obliged to learn a completely new language from scratch.
My language was put aside and stagnated.
It was just bizarre…the Arabic teachers have been sent from countries like Egypt and Syria. They had no pedagogic background, nor any knowledge about North Africa’s populations.
How could those guys teach me and my fellows our moral and cultural values, if they do not even know our language?
But they had another mission…
We were taught the history of Arabs, their religion and their civilization.
On top of that, they were telling us:” you are Arabs and Muslims”.
They were beating us, obliging us to learn by heart, many verses of the Islamic religion.
I, especially, cannot forget those winter days, when, we were already freezing, and then getting hit on the tip of the fingers with hard rods…My comrade was abruptly lifted in the air and smashed many times against the blackboard.
Yes, those were the settled punishments by these foreigners.
Something was going wrong:
1. How come that nobody spoke Arabic in the villages, if we were Arabs?
2. Everybody in the village and all other villages spoke “Taqvaylit” (2).
3. To my knowledge, at that time, only sheep-merchants were traveling to the “Timura b waaraven” (In Kabyle, means: the Arabic countries).
Obviously, that could only mean that our villages were a non-Arab land.
To be continued…