#kabtihkayti | Road Trip in Kabylia – رحلة في بلاد لقبايل – Virée en Kabylie

You can’t imagine how much I couldn’t wait to share this video with you, so much work for this episode, and how much I wanted to tell you about the unique experience I had, the fruitful nature that I saw, the culture and history I learned and the great people I have met Today Kabtihkayti is going to Kabylia So I tell you “Ansuf Yeswan”, welcome! Welcome to Kabylia! It’s been a long time since I planned to make a trip to the heart of Kabylia, a mythical region of Algeria, mostly visited for its incredible nature I wanted to come and confirm information during this trip: the importance of Kabyle villages in the Algerian identity and history Important things that should not be forgotten, and I hope to meet people who will allow me to understand even more My story today is really special: It takes place in a rather special moment, we have just been able to move between the wilayas, epic heat in the middle of August, but in a region close to my heart in which this time I want to dive There is an important disclaimer in this road trip that I must communicate to you: I do not claim and will not be able to approach all the Kabyle history and culture It all starts with nature From nature, humans can live, evolve, build their society and write their history Kabylia has exceptional gifts One of them, the canyon of Thabourt el Ansar Here, we cannot dissociate nature from the Kabyle identity From the door I carry on slowly my way and enter Ouadhias region Another canyon called Tamda Ousserghi A family leisure spot, for the greatest pleasure of children and adults But unfortunately, there’s not only the laughter and play of children, Nature also has its enemies Nestled on a mountain top, there is nearby a village that offers panoramic views of the Ouadhias region Ait El Qaid Registered on the national heritage list since 2006, an example of a traditional village I continue my journey in another region of villages: Ait Ouacif and more precisely in the village of Agouni Forou I understood something as soon as I arrived: Kabylia is made up of hundreds of towns, each with its own network of villages Impossible to discover them all but I want to experience the diversity of regions and learn more about the Kabyle identity I enter Ait Yenni, and there are several reasons that lead me to say that this village is one of the symbols of Tizi Ouzou, and even of all of Kabylia The first reason: its history In the 14th century, Ibn Khaldoun cites Ait Yenni as a powerful tribal confederation with a great culture Arts & crafts, and particularly jewelry and armory Personalities who made Kabylia shine in Algeria and in the world like Idir, Mouloud Maameri or Mohamed Arkoun I wanted to see with my own eyes the heart of Ait Yenni and I was received by Dina, Azzedine, Hassan and the villages leaders Ait Yenni is made up of 7 villages and each has its own identity, its own history As expected, I start my discovery with the pink village of Taourit El Hadjadj with Malik and ends in Ath Lahcene with Djaffar In front of us the Djurdjura mountain range with its summit Lalla Khedidja; the villages of Ait Yenni have won their challenge, between tradition and modernity To understand how they won this challenge, you have to go back very far and return to social organization in Kabylia which is ancient and that we also find in traditional berber societies such as among the Mozabites, Chaouia and other regions of the Sahara Here in Kabylia, society is patriarchal,

even if the mother, and women in general, play a central role in the family and in society And I want to emphasize this idea: I really felt that the Kabyle society was both open-minded and held to its traditions Family is the heart of Kabyle society A group of families forms a fraction, then a village and finally a tribe Many village names have a link with nature They are named according to their position in the mountain A similar method is used for the composition of a village: houses built of stone, wood and tiles, although the majority today prefer to build with modern materials The mosque, at the heart or at the entrance of the village, with alleys and neighborhoods around A public square, dedicated to meetings and celebrations, the place of life of the village There are often several fountains, of different shapes And Tadjmaât, small meeting places where the inhabitants of the village meet, discuss and receive visitors Tadjmaât: this word is of capital importance in Kabyle society All the villages in Kabylia have a committee called Tadjmaât in charge of social organization The heart and the key to the village Our oldest form of democracy and of local governance Nothing happens in the village without their approval A community regulator The inhabitants of the village participate financially and humanly, and future projects are decided in the Tadjmaât assemblies They are also responsible for cultural and sporting life, like a big family thinking about its future Here in the villages, it’s all about organization and art too There is indeed in Kabylia a very rich cultural and artistic heritage I have always been fascinated by Kabyle and Berber art in general, its designs, its shapes, its signs and symbols, its colors with a particular meaning, like an alphabet, testifying to an ancient culture When we talk about Kabylia, we must remember its thousand-year-old cultural heritage The peculiarity is that each tribe has its characteristics, specialties and its craftsmanship or even art Like pottery in Maatka, carpets in Ait Hichem and here in Ait Yenni, the specialty is jewelry I wanted to understand from experts how these jewels were created This craft dates from at least the 17th century And finds its origin in the Kalaa of Ait Abbès, in the region of Béjaïa A rich and ancient craftsmanship, which is transmitted from generation to generation Kabyle culture is of oral tradition, transmitted orally by our ancestors, like the majority of traditional cultures of the Maghreb and Africa Examples of this oral tradition: poetry and storytelling There are personalities known here as Youcef Oukaci, Mohand Oulhoucine and Si Mohamed OuMhand, from the Ath Irathen tribe Larbaa Nait Irathen, a long and rich history France changed the name of the village to Fort National, in order to assert its presence in the region And although she was able to master the area, she could not change the Kabyle soul The village Taourit Amokrane still contains this same soul Said, student in Tizi Ouzou, welcomes me and shows me around the whole village; and the thing they must be very proud of is the public library; by the way, a cultural fact in Kabylia, education, in all its forms, holds an important place in society

We end our visit in the mosque, or rather up to the minaret which has a 360 view on the village All this Kabyle heritage lives again through the Raconte-Arts festival an itinerant storytelling and arts festival, organized every year in a different village Today Raconte-Arts has become a reference in popular art and in festivals and what an honor for me to be hosted by Hassan Metref, a personality known throughout Kabylia and founding member of the festival We bring in more than 100,000 visitors In villages of 4000, 5000 inhabitants By the way, do visitors travel for the day or can they spend the night in the village? This is the problem we encounter: the success of the festival People come during the day but see that there are shows at night until 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m And sometimes visitors, especially young people on social media, are angry at us for not being able to welcome them all Why can’t we spend the whole week, places for bivouac, camping But the villages can get scared, it’s a responsibility to receive so many people Hassan gave me a lot of advice and one of them is to go to Salem Sadaali in Tiferdoud The highest village in Kabylia, a symbol of the region of Ain el Hammam A touristic village that continues to preserve its organization, its environment and its history From Tiferdoud, we can see all of Djurdjura and we remember the tribes who bravely defended the region of Ain el Hammam We also remember Hocine Ait Ahmed and Lalla Fatma N’soumer, national icon, Algerian woman symbol I want to continue the discovery of this region called Michelet under French colonization and previously known as Asqif Ntmana There is a village that has a specialty known throughout the country, and which in my opinion is great art carpet weaving This village is Ait Hichem I wanted to see with my own eyes the fine hand work and I was directed to Cecilia workshop, where I was explained the long work of weaving which has been passed down for thousands of years Beyond the carpets, Ait Hichem is like all the other Kabyle villages which also has its Tadjmaât and which still holds its traditions at the heart of its organization We just arrived in a place that we don’t talk about much while it is of national historic importance We are in Koukou: you may have heard of this name; also carried by a mountain near Algiers; but here we are in the village of Koukou This village was the capital of a kingdom independent from the Ottoman power, founded by Sid Ahmed Oul Kadhi in 1515 And yet, we don’t talk much about this kingdom of Koukou we will therefore visit it hoping to learn more about our history I can’t believe I finally have made it to the ancient capital of the kingdom of great Kabylia, Koukou, a city of great historical importance, which made the Ottomans tremble A long story that we all must learn about The village still has an important heritage like the houses, the cemetery, the old mosque and the Koranic school which still receives students from all over the country I told you that Kabylia is a society of oral tradition, but there is also a written and literate tradition; scholars from the region a great religious heritage composed of mosques, mausoleums, schools in each village A rich heritage and I want to continue my discovery towards the East in another region of Tizi Ouzou With Yanis, I want to go to an emblematic village of Bouzguene region, the village of Sahel Locals are proud of their village, recognized nationally for its organization and the cleanliness of its streets

There is also another village that deserves to be mentioned : Iguer Safen I meet Karim, one of the managers of village, father, firefighter and passionate about hiking Karim opened the doors of the village to us He reminds me that we are very close to Akfadou and that I start approaching the region of Vgayeth, Bejaia Time flies and there is yet another region that I would like to discover here in Tizi Ouzou I take the road north, I go up to Yakouren and in the middle of a fertile nature, I stop at the village Ait Aissi Ivehryen I am greeted by Lounes, member of Tadjmaât, architect and expert of the region An ancient heritage, and we can’t help but to remember the role of the village in the history of the region and the country The mosque is a symbol of the village, and what I liked the most was its architecture of Berber style There is also a very dynamic cultural life and this year, the Tadjmaât gave its agreement for the organization of the Raconte-Arts festival, postponed to next year because of the Covid Lounes shares with me a new vision of Kabylia; I understand that Ait Aissi works like all the other Kabyle villages, even if each has its own particularities I enter the region of Bejaïa by Adekar, natural border between Tizi Ouzou and Bejaïa I want to get lost in it, but not in the majestic, the great, Bejaïa, city ​​of history and science I start with Djebla, a historic village that has more than 4 centuries and who can easily become a prime tourist destination At the top of the mountains of Beni Ksila, on one side I face the mountain of Toudja named Ibarissen, and on the other the Mediterranean I wanted to take a break in Djebla, not only to come to my senses but also to reflect on the rest of my discovery of Bejaïa Where to start And even though it’s very hot, I miss the sea, I must continue to dive in and tell you my story I enter Soummam region starting with a village I would like to talk about, Seddouk More precisely in a village located at the top, called Seddouk Oufella and which has a story that we must talk about We know that men and women of Kabylia played a big role in all the historical movements of the country, from antic times to the present day But I’m here to understand better and learn more about certain historical moments Firstly, the colonial resistance and I left Tiz Ouzou, land of Lalla Fatma N’Soumer, and I am now in Béjaïa, precisely in Seddouk Oufella, land of Sheikh Ahaddad Cheikh Ahaddad was born here in 1790, and after studying Islamic sciences in the region and in Djurdjura, he takes the lead of the local zaouia, heiress of the Tariqa Rahmaniya The event for which the Sheikh is known took place in 1871, when he was 80 years old He allies himself with Sheikh El Mokrani, implementing what will be the greatest resistance against the French occupation Sheikh Ahaddad died two years later, in prison France buries him back then in Constantine, even if his last wish was to be buried here in Seddouk In 2009, his body was exhumed and buried in Seddouk where a mosque was dedicated to him, a place of memory in homage to the region and to the whole country I continue my journey in the Soummam valley, the route of history and personalities who built Algeria with their wisdom, their hands and their blood There are in the region thousands of martyrs, anonymous or known people as well as national personalities like Abane Ramdane, Amirouche, Didouche Mourad… And there are also symbolic places, like Ifri, where was held the Soumman Congress in 1956

Right here, in the village of Ifri, between August 13 and 20, 1956, The historic group of 22, FLN leaders of the revolution, meet and set up the Soummam Congress, laying the first foundations of the Algerian revolution Unfortunately, I was unable to access the museum and discover this historic village, but the fact of having set foot there was enough to move me I want to talk to you about another historical period about which we also speak too little And besides the place in which I am is kind of the reason behind this trip I was left unsatisfied after doing an episode on the History of Béjaia, because I had not finished my story I am today at the Kalaa of Ait Abbes, or rather the Kingdom of Ait Abbes, a powerful kingdom which seems to have inherited from the civilization of Béjaia So how did we go from Béjaia to the Kalaa, how this Kingdom was able to exist with the Ottoman power and then France, this is what we will see in detail At the same time as the kingdom of Koukou, in 1510, the Emir of Bejaia Abou El Abbes Abdelaziz, his family and some of the inhabitants of the city flee Bejaïa which was threatened and retreat inland in the Soummam region They establish there a new kingdom which was to become a masterpiece in North Africa and known far beyond, the kingdom of the Ait Abbes We are not talking about a small tribe that has fled and withdrew, we are talking about a kingdom that has inherited 5 centuries of civilizations and power The Ait Abbes built a citadel in the shape of the Kalaâ of the Hammadids: a strategic site, difficult to access, walls and well-guarded gates all around They built a Kasbah, whole villages, a developed defense system And stood up to the Ottomans for centuries Sometimes the kingdom controlled a part of Kabylia and sometimes it succeeded in extending its territory to the gates of the Sahara A developed city known for its economic activity like the production of burnous, weapons, woodworking, and agriculture, particularly fruits and cereals There were 14 mosques and Koranic schools, including the Great Mosque, built by Ahmed Amokrane in the 16th century At the foot of the mosque is buried a very important personality, last ruler of the Ait Abbes Sheikh El Mokrani, who set up the insurrection of 1871, and at the end of which he lost his life The people of Kalaâ are still very proud of the History and the golden age of the Ait Abbes, of the capital of Ait Abbes who rivaled cities like Tunis and Algiers 1871: a very important date It marks the end of the kingdom of Ait Abbès and symbolically the end of the control of Kabylia and the tribes on their territory But territory is not only connected to History Territory goes far beyond these considerations, it is timeless and is beyond our understanding I wanted to continue my road in Kabylia towards its southern border in the region of Guenzet, always known as point of exchange and trade where Berber-speaking and Arabic-speaking populations meet It is also called the region of Ait Yaala, who also has an ancient history, in the heart of Kabylia We know that the Hammadids, when they were at the Kalaâ in M’sila and got attacked by the Banu Hilal tribes, ended up moving their capital in Bejaïa But there is a part of the Hammadids, the Ait Yaala, who moved to Guenzet region Until today the region of Guenzet holds to its heritage, especially religious, like the Mohand Oukarri mosque and school, built 4 centuries ago and which continues to attract many students Guenzet is unique:

there are differences as in the Berber language used called Tassahlit or in architecture and there are similarities rooted in Kabyle identity, like family and social organization I wanted to see an example of a Guenzet village and I stopped at Tiguert N’drar, village of my friend Fouad Its inhabitants welcomed us with open arms and were happy to know Guenzet part of this adventure in Kabylia Behind the mountains of Guenzet, we enter in a different region, Bordj Zemmora Zemmora is also an important trading point, especially during the time of the caravans of the South who passed through M’sila, Bou Saâda and who went up to Bejaïa Its history is very rich at the sight of vestiges and districts which represent 3 different civilizations: the Berber city strongly resembling the Kabyle villages, The Souiga, a small Kasbah from the Ottoman period, and part of French colonial architecture Bordj Zemmoura is an important historic town, probably founded during the period of the Hammadids Ottomans arrived later and founded a fort in 1560, sort of border between Ottoman power and the Kingdom of Ait Abbes And it is also symbolically the limit of Kabtihkayti episode Here ends my adventure Here, I close my book on Kabylia Kabylia, this mosaic that everyone hears about but few taste I had a lot of ideas about Kabylia but today I come home with my head full of new ideas, I have a clearer vision on the region, a region beautiful by its nature, its culture, its history, and especially its people And luckily enough, Kabylia greeted us in the most beautiful way