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Let’s start a week dedicated to Algeria with one of its most popular figures ever. Cheikha Rimitti can be considered pure embodied expression of raï, the typical music of Oran and, in general, of the whole country.
Of the people
Cheikha Rimitti was born in 1923 in Tessala, Algeria. Orphaned as a child, at 15 she was taken by a traditional Algerian music company that taught her to dance and sing. At 20 he begins composing his first songs which will have an incredible success during World War II. In 1952 he will record his first album but the consecration will come 2 years later.
In fact, the song Charrak Gattà will be released, which invites young girls to lose their virginity. This provoked heavy judgments from religious orthodoxy, which, at the end of the Algerian liberation struggle, would not hesitate to censor it publicly.
The attack and the last few years
With the independence of the country, more and more Raï artists emigrated to France, frightened by the growing climate of tensions towards their musical genre. Algeria proclaimed itself Arab and Muslim, as a result a genre like that of Cheikha Rimitti was barely tolerated, all too liberal for the situation of the time. In 1971, once she returned home, the artist was involved in a car accident, in which 3 members of her band were killed and she remained in a coma for 3 weeks.
At the end of the hospitalization, the singer radically changed her concept of seeing the world, even performing the hajj (compulsory pilgrimage to Mecca) a few years later. The journey did not transform Cheikha Rimitti’s art, who continued her career ntil 2 days before her death in 2006.
The artist can only be considered the real female incarnation of Raï, also considering the lifestyle and the lyrics of her songs. This genus, which we will discuss in more detail in a few days, has its origins in the tradition of Oran, a coastal city and always steeped in all the cultures of the Mediterranean. Just in the souks of this city, dancers and street musicians enjoyed themselves with music that celebrated alcohol, sex and earthly pleasures.
Cheikha Rimitti’s music united these elements as part of his life, like Bi Kidude, passed with the most forgotten and humble layers of society. Listening to his songs you can hear the beat of the Algerian people, deeply proud of their freedom.
Tomorrow we will continue the review dedicated to Algeria with “The battle of Algiers” by Gillo Pontecorvo. Follow us on our page facebook, YouTube e Instagram, every like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East.