Archive for the ‘Ghosts’ Tag

Independence Day, Algiers

Independence Day and my last day in Algiers. Half-hearted celebrations, a few more flags and police than usual. Algerians seem largely to ignore the national holiday, with many shops open for business and young couples strolling on the sea front. Nationalism is perhaps here, as elsewhere, only a ghost of contradictions, summoned as troubled cultural expression and conflicted by ethnic grievances. It is also a presiding spirit of resistance to the economic dispossession and police control of Algerians by an oil-rich elite at home, as well to the marginalisation of Algerian minorities in France. It was this spirit that imbued the carnivalesque repossession of public space by Algerians in the centres of Marseille and Paris during the 2010 World Cup.


Glimpses of an Industrial Past: Postcard Sent by Ed Welch and Received in Manchester by Joseph McGonagle

Building by Fernand Pouillon, Seraidi

A respite from the noise, dirt, and restless frustration of Algerian reality below to the clear light, air, and silence of the mountain village of Seraidi. For my friend, Atef, the contrast is startling between the divine perfection of nature above, untouched by man or politics, and the man-made hells of colony and post-colony, below. Up here, a moment’s glimpse of heaven before one remembers that Seraidi was an epicentre of violent unrest in the 1990s


I was surprised by a surge of patriotic outrage at the Second World War British cemetery, on the outskirts of Annaba. It was moving silently to contemplate the ranks of unexpectedly well kept gravestones. Marking the loss of so many young men killed in this corner of North Africa, they stood on neatly mown grass amid what otherwise was the usual midden of Algeria’s public spaces. It was out of my respectful silence that I barely contained an eruption of violent anger when I was peremptorily ejected by a brutish guard for not being in possession of the official authorisation that one inevitably needs in Algeria to perform any activity, however trivial.

On Boulevard Zirout Youcef

To cross the desert

Living in hope and limbo

Or take to the sea

Spilled Tar by the Monument aux Rapatriés, Marseille

To the soundtrack of Archie Shepp Live at the Pan-African Festival (1969)

Ghosts of Le Panier 3, Marseille

Ghosts of Le Panier 2, Marseille

Ghosts of Le Panier 1, Marseille

With thanks to the charming girls at the desk of the Carré Vieux Port Hotel Kyriad for allowing me to use their wifi for free to upload this photograph, even though I was not a guest of their very welcoming establishment.

Ghosts: De Gaulle, Metro Stalingrad, Paris