Benjamin Stora , A French Historian, and Abd alMajeed Shaikhi,,,, Director of Algerian national archives and councilor to the Algerian President, were both named by French President Macron and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, to reinvestigate or revisit the memory of the colonial era in Alger 1830-1961 in order to settle the different views that are still in conflict with each other.
Also, there are 181 signatories of British historians who wrote recently a protest letter to authorities about historical information in a pamphlet required for all applicants for British citizenship. According to these historians, the government document is misleading applicants about several aspects of British history when they claim the UK’s role in the international slave trade is downplayed (NB: more than three million people were shipped by British merchants to be sold as slaves). The pamphlet mentioned nothing, in plus, about that numbers and the suffering of the slaves in an attempt to clean their colonial past and its slavery history. The end of the British Empire, according to historians, is described as “mostly peaceful” when it was not. The letter calls for the history chapter of the pamphlet to be re-written urgently. “Decolonisation was not an ‘orderly’ but an often violent process,” the historians argue.
Is it possible in the end to reconcile the irreconcilable discourse between the colonizer and the colonized? Can the two countries after decades of the Algerian liberation war reach a common ground of real identification of the horrors of colonialism and its devastating results on the colonized? Would that be followed by a clear apology and reparation of the damages that took place? I doubt. The French president apology in 2018 to Josette Audin, the widow of Maurice Audin, a French mathematician and anti-colonial activist who died in 1957 under torture of the police, while the official story denied that, is absolutely not enough, although a tiny symbolic recognition of official use of torture against prisoners.
History was written only by the victors. The indigenous people need to write, first and foremost, their own history, so as to meet the adversary on an equal footing…whether those are Blacks, Colonized Africans, Kurds, Armenians….. or still under the longest occupation in modern history as Palestinians. South Africa, post the Apartied era, gave a good example of a possible reconciliation after the principle of one man one vote won the battle.
Memory is a battlefield that could never be won by weapons, however, these weapons are strong. George Floyd’s spirit has done to history more than thousands of classical historians- to recorrecting our vision of history, the history that is written only by the victors, to empower them and to legitimize their authorities. History, to the masses who demonstrate on all the streets and squares of the world continents nowadays, becomes a self-conscience domain and a tool, a new methodology to redefine the past and the present – by revisiting the huge printed volumes, the prominent white personalities, the claimed heroes and the hundreds of colonial statues, adored by “national citizens” for centuries- and reevaluate this huge heritage from their own perspective and vision. Only this vision can integrate the past with the present, and open a promising future to our coming generations.
The urban sociologist Janet Abu-Lughod ( the mother of the Palestinian American anthropologist Lila Abu-Lughod who wrote -Veiled Sentiments: Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society ,2000)- in her marvelous book: Janet Abu-Lughod. 1989. “Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350” demonstrates and deconstructs the classical ideas of the western civilization’s concept of its centrality to civilization. especially when she researched the history of Cairo city in 1001(Janet Abu-Lughod. 1971. “Cairo: 1001 years of the City Victorious),and other cities as Baghdad and Damascus…..
The main idea of Janet is to undermine the egocentric/Eurocentric concept (Eurocentrism as the term for an ideology was coined by Samir Amin in the 1970s) that is built around the globality of the world that is long-established before the industrial Europan revolution, and long before the renaissance; especially when we study the east and mainly china’s culture: an intro to Janet theory:
Interview with her daughter: Lila Abu Lughod on her research on women in Upper Egypt and other articles and books of her research_
On the 60th anniversary of Congo’s independence, Belgian king, Philippe expresses his “deepest regrets” to the president of Congo. Between 10 and 15 million have died as a direct result of the horrors of the king and his colonial rule. Just last month the brother of the king defended Leopold 11, said that he did not visit Congo even once-thus unresponsible for the crimes committed there. Neither reparation nor compensation was mentioned in the King’s letter.
Nowadays, after72 years of Palestine’s colonization and uprooting of 2/3 of the Palestinians from their own homes and lands in 1948, one word of regret or sorry from authorities was not heard yet; the opposite is taking place: the continued confiscation of 30% of the remaining small archipelago Islands of what remained of historical Palestine, enlisted to start today- in what is known as “The Century’s Deal”. Colonial powers, past and present, never learn lessons from history – They change their tactics, but their main goal remains Control, Confiscations, Subjugation and Denial of the horrors they inflicted on the Aboriginals, Natives, and the Indigenous populations of the colonized people-thus refusing to repay back part of the debt they owed to the colonized peoples. Although partially appreciated after 135 years in complete silence, it is only a lip service from Belgian king Philippe that felt short of clear Apology, followed by Reparation and Compensation. Justice should prevail for all colonized, whether past or present.