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Béjaïa

Béjaïa (also known as Kabyle Bgayet or Tifinagh. French: Bougie; Turkish: Bicaye) is a Mediterranean port on the Gulf of Béjaïa, capital of Béjaïa Province, northern Algeria. Under French rule, it was formerly known under various European names, such as Budschaja in German, Bugia in Italian, and Bougie (which are words for 'candle'). Béjaïa is the largest city in Kabylia after Tizi Ouzou, and one of the largest principally Kabylophone city.

Kabylie or Kabylia (Kabyle: Tamurt Iqbayliyen, Tamurt n Leqbayel or Tamurt idurar) is a region in the north of Algeria.

It is part of the Tell Atlas and is located at the edge of the Mediterranean Sea. Kabylia covers several provinces of Algeria: the whole of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia (Bgayet), most of Bouira (Tubirett) and parts of the wilayas of Bordj Bou Arreridj, Jijel, Boumerdes, and Setif. Gouraya National Park and Djurdjura National Park are also located in Kabylie.

French rule of Algeria lasted from 1830 to 1962, under a variety of governmental systems. One of France's longest-held overseas territories, Algeria became a destination for hundreds of thousands of European immigrants, known as colons and later, as pieds-noirs. However, indigenous Muslims remained a majority of the territory's population throughout its history. Gradually, dissatisfaction among the Muslim population with its lack of political and economic status fueled calls for greater political autonomy, and eventually independence, from France. Tensions between the two population groups came to a head in 1954, when the first violent events of what was later called the Algerian War began. The war concluded in 1962, when Algeria gained complete independence following the March 1962 Evian agreements.

Resistance of Lalla Fadhma N'Soumer

The French began their occupation of Algiers in 1830, starting with a landing in Algiers. As occupation turned into colonization, Kabylia remained the only region independent of the French government. Pressure on the region increased, and the will of her people to resist and defend Kabylie increased as well.

A turning point in Lalla Fadma's life was the arrival in Kabylie, in about 1849, of a mysterious man who presented himself as Mohamed ben Abdallah (the name of the Prophet), but who is more commonly known as Bou Baghla. He was probably an ex-lieutenant in the army of Emir Abdelkader, defeated for the last time by the French in 1847. Bou Baghla refused to surrender at that battle, and retreated to Kabylie. From there he began a war against the French armies and their allies, often employing guerrilla tactics . Bou Baghla was a relentless fighter, and very eloquent in Arabic. He was very religious, and some legends tell about his thaumaturgic skills.

Bou Baghla went often to Summer to talk with the high-ranking members of the religious community, and Lalla Fadhma was soon attracted by his strong personality. At the same time, the relentless combatant was attracted by a woman so resolutely willing to contribute, by any means possible, to the war against the French. With her inspiring speeches, she convinced many men to fight as imseblen (volunteers ready to die as martyrs) and she herself, together with other women, participated in combat by providing cooking, medicines, and comfort to the fighting forces.

Traditional sources tell that a strong bond was formed between Lalla Fadhma and Bou Baghla. She saw this as a wedding of peers, rather than the traditional submission as a slave to a husband. In fact, at that time Bou Baghla left his first wife (Fatima Bent Sidi Aissa) and sent back to her owner a slave he had as a concubine (Halima Bent Messaoud). But on her side, Lalla Fadhma wasn't free: even if she was recognized as tamnafeqt ("woman who left her husband to get back to his family", a Kabylie institution), the matrimonial tie with her husband was still in place, and only her husband's will could free her. However he did not agree to, even when offered large bribes. The love between Fadhma and Bou remained platonic, but there were public expressions of this feeling between the two.

Fadhma was personally present at many fights in which Bou Baghla was involved, particularly the battle of Tachekkirt won by Bou Baghla forces (18–19 July 1854), where the French General Randon was caught but managed to escape later. On 26 December 1854, Bou Baghla was killed; some sources claim it was due to the treason of some of his allies. The resistance remained without a charismatic leader and a commander able to guide it efficiently. For this reason, during the first months of 1855, on a sanctuary built on top of the Azru Nethor peak, not far from the village where Fadhma was born, there was a great council among combatants and important figures of the tribes in Kabylie. They decided to grant Lalla Fadhma, assisted by her brothers, the command of combat.


(Source Wikipedia)