Algerian People’s Victory, July 5th 1962

The featured image is the cover of this month’s The Funambulist magazine — “Algerian Independence and Global Revolution 1962-2022”. I have spent the last few days contemplating Walid Bouchouchi’s moving art work. It captures the many emotions and aspirations which must have been present sixty years ago when the people of Algeria regained a semblance of sovereignty from the french colonial authorities. In the faces of Bouchouchi’s subjects is hope, elation, aspiration, uncertainty, but also grief from a genocidal war waged against them by the french government.

On July 3, 1962 sovereignty was transferred from the french colonial authorities to the Algerian coalition. The official celebration of independence occurred on July 5th.

We’re struggling with the mass violence in Buffalo, state violence in Akron, the attacks on the reproductive rights of the poor, with the curtailment of voting rights, access to housing, access to health care. Black folk, Indigenous folk in amerikkka confront the violence of settler colonialism daily — it manifests everywhere, it is part of the fabric of our existence.

But we’re also heirs and architects of resistance.

Frantz Fanon was a Martinique born psychiatrist, writer, revolutionary who joined the Algerian liberation movement. His book The Wretched of the Earth, explores the act of decolonization grounded in the Algerian liberation struggle. Fanon died in 1961. He writes

Decolonization, therefore, implies the urgent need to thoroughly challenge the colonial situation. Its definition can, if we want to describe it accurately, be summed up in the well-known words: “The last shall be first.” Decolonization is verification of this. At as descriptive level, therefore, any decolonization is a success.

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

In Wretched of the Earth Fanon the psychiatrist details the psychic violence of colonization — to destroy the mind of the colonized, the enslaved, the oppressed is the very essence of the enterprise.

Because it is a systematized negation of the other, a frenzied determination to deny the other any attribute of humanity, colonialism forces the colonized to constantly ask the question: “Who am I in reality”

Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

So we confront July 4th as another reminder of annihilation — symbolic and physical. A day celebrating the counterrevolution of one colonial administration over another. Even Juneteenth is captured, held up as a counterexample, a counterinsurgency against truths that are plain.

I turned 60 this year. It helps to remember that real revolutionary struggle is possible. That on the day I was born, there were African people, Brown people, Black people, Muslim people, Amizargh people who committed to the act of liberation and aspire still to dream and create spaces where their lives are precious and celebrated.

I keep probing the chronoartography of Lépold Lambert and Malika Rahal

Chronocartography of significant events during 1962 associated with the Algerian People's revolution, hand drawn by Léopold Lambert with data provided by Malika Rahal
A chronocartography created by Léopold Lambert and Malika Rahal. What is the geography of freedom? Does the geography of revolution fold in upon itself?

It helps to remind ourselves that revolution is not a singular act. That revolution — the act of bringing a different world into the soul, the home, the earth — is an on-going process, a continuity of human life, the most sacred affirmation of human life that we can possibly give.

 Decolonize your capitalist consumption.
Decolonize & de-ionize materialism.
Decolonize your holidays.
Decolonize sacred symbols.
Decolonize your partnerships.
Decolonize your friendships.
Decolonize your parenting.

Decolonize your spirit.
Decolonize your mind.
Decolonize your life.

Decolonize every damn thing.

Indigenize. Humanize.

Gayatri Sethi, Unbelonging

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