Did You Know Algeria Was The “Mecca For Revolutionaries” In The 1960s?

Every country is synonymous with something. For example, Algeria is dubbed the“Mecca of the revolution.” But how did that come to be?

How Algeria became the “Mecca for Revolutionaries”

The 1960s were a trying and crucial time in the history of the African continent, as countries were busy fighting for their freedom against colonial rule; especially after their counterparts like Ghana, who were catalysts of African independence, had attained theirs.

Algeria, in this case, braved the violent times as they fought tooth and nail against French rule for 132 years. On 5th July,1962, after seven and a half years of fighting the French, Africa’s largest country became independent. Not only did they win the independence war, they went on to nurture an image as the “Mecca of the Revolution” at the time, which inspired revolutionaries worldwide.

This kind of energy was contagious and made Algeria a home of African liberation and a base for revolutionaries from across the world, from African revolutionaries like Amilca Cabral, Nelson Mandela to Black Panthers, all whom were anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism.

A few years after independence, Algeria hosted the Pan-African Festival of Culture in its capital, Algiers in 1969, which brought together liberation movements from the Global South, whose ideologies centred Africa as a point of reference. One of the outcomes of the festival was the aim to split from he World Festival of Black Arts of 1966 which was affiliated to colonial powers and made it look questionable.

Given this type of spirit and tactically positioning themselves as the go-to place for revolutionaries and the developer, mediator, and anti-imperialist, Algeria also played a vital role with their former president Ahmed Ben Bella as one of the founding fathers of the the Organisation of African Unity, now known as the African Union (AU).

Concluding Thoughts

This story makes you think: what is in the pet name? We become what we see our selves as. Algerians’ rebellious spirit is captured in what they thought of themselves, the Mecca for revolutionaries. Isn’t that an affirming and self-aware way of seeing yourself?

Fast forward to 2024, what do we relate to Algeria or what does Algeria relate to itself? Are they still the revolutionary base for liberation? It would be intriguing to delve into where they are now. Have young Algerians kept this spirit burning? What is their struggle as a generation? You can’t help but wonder what this does for a country or better yet a continent’s collective memory? It is such a “we were once a country” moment.

That said, what is your country synonymous with?

References: C&, Njabala Foundation Symposium 2024
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