Last Updated: Sun Oct 17, 2010 00:09 am (KSA) 21:09 pm (GMT)

Famed Algeria singer defends Amazigh culture

Idir, the Algerian singer, dubbed as the ambassador of Kabyle culture (File)
Idir, the Algerian singer, dubbed as the ambassador of Kabyle culture (File)

Algeria’s internationally-acclaimed singer, Idir, most known for his “A Vava Inouva" hit song which was translated into seven songs is still on the roll to defend North Africa’s native Amazigh language and culture.

“After 33 years in the music industry, I am still rebellious in my lyrics and music in a message to defend my Amazigh origin which I am proud of, “said Idir.

Started as a geology student with a destined career in the petroleum industry, Idir made it to stardom to represent through his music the plight and the cultural struggle of the Amazigh people in the North Africa region.

“We are not against anyone, and not against development and opening up to other cultures, all what we are seeking is to legitimize and make official our Amazigh culture and heritage, which takes a sizeable portion in the North Africa’s history “he said.

Dismisses flawed comparison

“We were not wiped out and killed like what happened for Kurds in Iraq, for us, it is only a matter of cultural identity and our desire for a political reform in respective of our Amazigh culture which we want in a peaceful manner.”

According to Idir, ‘original’ Arabs in North Africa do not exceed 0.01 percent of the total ‘Maghreb al-Arabi’ population.

The Arabs came to the North African region after the Islamic conquest, and currently the local population is a mixture of different cultures, said Ibir who finds North Africans strange for being proud of their Arab origins.

Arabic is not a threat

The singer said that the real danger that threatens the Amazigh language is not Arabic but other languages coming from the West and in an era of globalized cultural uniformity.

“I see the solution lays in a balanced approach, we do not want to lose our cultural identity, and not to be closed and backward in the same time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Idir dismisses the comparison drawn to him to Che Guevara.
“I am not a rebel, I am a humble singer representing the worries of my tribal people and ethnicity,” he added.

Amazigh language not a hurdle

The artist claims that the Amazigh language does not constrain the communication between singers and their audience, not only in the Arab World but internationally.

Proud of his hit song released in 1976 “A Vava Inouva”, the singer describes the strength of the song that made it through international as ‘soulful’.

“That song has its own magic, it speaks to the soul regardless of the language, ethnicity and even to whoever sings it, simply because of its beautiful essence and its simplicity,” he said.

The song depicts an Amazigh legend of a struggle and a sacrifice of a young girl named Ghriba to make means meet for her old father, Inouva, and young siblings.

Idir has also been renowned as the ambassador of the Kabyle culture, especially the Kabyle music, with only his vocals and acoustic guitar.


(Translated from Arabic by Dina al-Shibeeb)

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