Mohammed Walid Grine’s translation of Kateb Yacine’s short work on the chronology of anti-imperialist struggle

As the feudal lords who betrayed Abdelkader[1] gave up the struggle, they served the French, like they had served the Turks or the Romans before. A century of enslavement seemed to have put an end to the thousand years resistance of the Algerian people, on this land that apparently seemed nameless and without a history that was called ‘Rome’s wheat basket’, before it became the paradise of colonists and oil tankers. Caids and Bashaghas[2] were their watchdogs. The bourgeois and petty bourgeois ‘elites’ formed by the occupant sank into treason. Those gentlemen, doctors and pharmacists had not the honor of restoring the national flag. They cried over Algeria as if it was dead, buried by them, in the accusing graveyard of lost illusions.

The national flag was restored once again by the people’s war, a thousand years war, sometimes open and declared, sometimes secret and underground, the everyday war of the landless peasant, of the proletarian without motherland. The expatriate workers raised once and for all the national flag. They were the fellows of uncle Ho[3], who founded in Paris L’Etoile Nord-Africaine, the first organization that fought in France for the independence of our land.

The humble founders of L’Etoile who dared defy the great imperialistic power in mainland France made their junction with the new forces of the international proletariat. It is in this way that the socialist revolution of October gave birth to Dien Bien Phu[4], and it is in this way that Dien Bien Phu gave birth to the 1st of November 1954[5]. It is in this way that Cuba gave birth to Chile and Nicaragua.

‘In quick succession, thunder stirs up the veils of the mist, and germinates the seeds’, says the poem of uncle Ho.


*Kateb Yacine: Algerian socialist writer and poet. Was one of the founding fathers of the modern Algerian novel written in French. His major literary work is the novel ‘Nedjma’ (Star in Arabic) published in 1956, during Algeria’s national independence war.

Translated (from French) by: Mohamed Walid Grine, Algerian writer and translator, professor of translation at the State’s Institute for Translation (University of Algiers 2)


[1] Emir (Prince) Abdelkader (1808-1883): one the greatest leaders of the Algerian national resistance against the French colonialist army when it invaded Algeria in 1830. Emir Abdelkader formed up a state in western and central Algeria (the Emirate of Abdelkader) and an army and fought against the French colonialists from 1832 till his capitulation in 1847. (translator’s note)

[2] Titles of feudal lords in Algeria) who oppressed and enslaved the Algerian peasants. They collaborated with the French occupying authorities during all the colonial period. (translator’s note

[3] Ho Chi Minh (translator’s note)

[4] Referring to the decisive victory of the Viet Minh in May 1954 over the French colonialist troops in Vietnam. Dien Bien Phu is the name of a major battle in Vietnam’s national independence war. (translator’s note)

[5] Algeria’s national independence war (1954-1962) broke out on November the 1st 1954. (translator’s note)