L’Expression: Culture – A place of remembrance for the victims

Inaugurated in August 1984 by the late President Chadli Bendjedid, the Ifri Ouzellaguene Museum is undoubtedly the monument that best perpetuates in the Wilaya of Béjaïa the memory of Algeria as a fighter inherent both in the war of independence and other feats of arms. related to the national resistance since the arrival of the occupying power in 1830 until his death in 1962. Everything is thought out, organized and appreciated so that no step is neglected. Visitors discover there, in an educational sequence, the courage and military prowess of their ancestors, such as El-Mokrani and Sheikh Belhaddad, the architects of the 1871 uprising, as well as the heroes of the War of Independence, whose patriotism and “genius” made victory possible. In fact, all the actors of this epic are highlighted there, with portraits and documents that reproduce their lives and their journeys, and sometimes, in the swing of an exhibition, we even find their belongings (especially pistols) or objects intimate, like Colonel Amirouches. ceremonial costume, intact and redolent of mothballs. At the heart of the site that housed the Soummam Congress in August 1956, the building reflects, not without emotion, the misdeeds of French colonialism, the dirty and violent periods inflicted on the people, but at the same time sums up the struggle and the sacrifices to get out of that and “the unusual and abundant fates that created the victory”, opined the director of the museum, Hakim Mahdjat. He explained in this regard that “the choice of the place is not accidental”, as he tells in itself the whole “power” of the Congress, organized under the nose and beard of the colonial army, whose troops were stationed barely an hour’s march from the meeting place. “A challenge and a repulsion to the occupier,” he added, referring to the massacres committed a few weeks later in the fourteen villages of the Ouzellaguene, which paid the price in revenge. He also emphasized that “memory is as lively as it is sparkling, requires the maintenance of the museum and makes it accessible to a wide public through educational and dissemination actions”. Da Tayeb, who comes from Seddouk and although he is used to the ritual of visiting the site, Da Tayeb, 87 and a former member of the Civil Organization of the National Liberation Front (OCFLN), is still moved by it. “Recalling what had happened is part of the duty to remember,” he confides. “Everyone preaches it, but it is important never to forget,” he will say, suddenly immersing himself in his own memories. “It was just terrible. Hundreds of thousands of Algerians have paid tribute. I am very moved by it”. As Nacer, a former militant of the French Federation of the FLN, follows in his footsteps, his acolyte supports: “Every object, every document, every stones in this museum are an invitation to immerse yourself in the war and its horrors. But everything also reminds of the heroic hours in the fight for victory. The important thing is to transfer the fighting values ​​and the ideal of freedom that he carried. The place also attracts the youngest, as a group of students from the University of Sétif met there. One of them, Lamri, expressed great emotion and said: “It is almost a holy place. It’s impressive and it’s very poignant.” The museum as a whole brings together several buildings, which in turn include exhibition rooms, a library, a film projection room and the administration, all overlooking a large public square, within a gigantic memorial. At the western entrance there are, from left to right, life-size bronze statues of Congress artisans, namely Lakhdar Bentobbal, Zighoud Youcef, Abane Ramdane, Amar Ouamrane, Krim Belkacem and Larbi Ben M’hidi, lined up side by side with cheerful looking faces to occupy the place as the site’s guardians. But the highlight of the room remains the maisonette that housed the Congress, whose lofty location, at the top of the hill, seems to defy time and space. To access it, you must cross a marble forecourt and amphitheater steps, designed to accommodate major historical events and the crowds that flock there.About 20,000 people visit the site annually, notes the director of the museum.

Leave a Comment