b. 1921, Sétif, Algeria; d. 1996, Paris, France
playwright and poet
The Algerian-born Noureddine Aba has written numerous plays and poems on a variety of political topics: post-independence corruption and political repression, the Algerian revolution, the plight of Palestinians and the Middle East conflict, Nazi Germany (inspired by his presence as a journalist at the Nuremberg trials), and French colonial rule. In addition, he has frequently examined the fate and experience of individual relationships in the midst of political upheaval. In Gazelle après minuit (Gazelle after Midnight) (1979) and Gazelle au petit matin (Gazelle in the Early Morning) (1978), for example, the fait divers of a young couple discovered dead at the moment of independence serves as the inspiration for sequences of love poems. In his plays, he often makes use of political farce, and his poems frequently draw on thickly layered references to history. His short stories, however, draw on the tradition of Arabic tales such as those found in the Arabian Nights. Using figures such as a sultan to represent arbitrary post-independence rule, they are therefore more allegorical in their relation to politics. Two of these short stories were adapted from his children's books.
b. 1899, Taher, Algeria; d. 1985, Algiers, Algeria
politician and essayist
Ferhat Abbas's political activities began before World War II. His Manifesto of the Algerian People was the basis of several nationalist organizations. At the beginning of the revolution, Abbas favored an Algerian republic within a French federation that would give Algerians equal rights as citizens, but once it become clear that such a solution was unworkable, he joined the National Liberation Front (FLN), for which he frequently presented a diplomatic face abroad. He served as president of the provisional government and was the first president of the National Assembly. Abbas's essays, not strictly history yet much more than autobiography, draw on his experiences to analyze the various stages of Algeria's political evolution in the twentieth century. His first books analyze the inequities and hypocrisy of French colonial rule, and subsequent books take on the revolution itself and the subsequent betrayal of its ideals. Though he was treated as an assimilationist or sell-out by more radical nationalists, by the end of the twentieth century some had begun to re-evaluate