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After talking about Oran, today we go to Kabilia, Berber / amazight land, to know one of its most iconic voices: Lounis Aït Menguellet, singer of this warm and proud people.
A childhood in war
Lounis Aït Menguellet was born in 1950 near Tizi Ouzou, in Upper Cabilia. Last of 6 siblings, he is only 4 years old when the Revolution broke out in Algeria, a conflict that will characterize his whole childhood, preventing him from having an education for a long time. With the end of the conflict, the young Lounis can devote himself to his passion for music which, originally, is nothing more than a pastime for him. Things will change in 1967 when his cousin convinces him to debut on a Cabilian radio. His song Ma trud ula d nek kter (“If you cry, I cry even more”), will immediately make it into the hearts of many local girls, making it known to the general public for the first time.
In 1970 he will be forced to respond to military service, without however abandoning his passion and, indeed, devoting entire weekends in the recording room, while remaining in the dark of public opinion. The second album turned out to be another great success, consecrating the artist in the bed of great musicians.
Voice of Kabylia
Lounis, in fact, will never depart from his mother tongue, developing over time an increasingly refined poetic and far from the most romantic beginnings. In the “80s he will become a true symbol of his own people, so much so that he deserves several books dedicated to him, one of which is signed by Tassadit and Kateb Yacine. In those years the artist’s fame would go beyond national borders, going several times to fill entire French stadiums. In this period, however, he will undergo a 3-year sentence for possession of weapons, of which he was a well-known collector for some time.
As with the raï singers, President Bendjedid also hit Kabylian music, intimidated by the pride of this people in defending its culture. In fact, we remember that for years Algeria declared itself Muslim and Arab, censoring so many singers from the “improper behavior” to those who have never considered themselves Arab. Once out of prison the artist continued to devote himself to his passion, becoming more and more consecrated as a true voice of Kabylia, the place where he still lives today.
Love and politics
Lounis Aït Menguellet’s production can basically be divided into two parts: the first characterized by love for a woman and the second characterized by love for one’s own country. In fact, the artist has always been a lover of philosophy and letters and, over time, has dedicated himself to deepening these two disciplines, always drawing new ideas for his own texts. Luonis was also deeply affected by the 2001 Black Spring, during which about a hundred cabili lost their lives in clashes with the French gendarmerie.
The author, while condemning the violence, immediately declared that in his songs he does not intend to make politics, but rather to express the voice of his people, often unspoken or silenced. Precisely for this reason it is considered by many to be a sort of Kabylian Gaber, both in importance and in denouncing society itself with such elegance.
Tomorrow we will continue the event dedicated to Algeria with the Jeunesse Sportive de Kabylie, the team from Kabylia. Follow us on our facebook, YouTube and Instagram page, every like, sharing or support is welcome and helps us to dedicate ourselves more and more to our passion: telling the Middle East.