The Fahs is a multitude of provinces spread along the slopes to the flat lands where the gradient levels, on the south face of the mount Bouzareah that dominates the Bay of Algiers, on the its foothill, in the north face. Viewed from there, Algiers like Rio de Janeiro, offers its card postal image of the most beautiful bay in the world to your eyes only, if you take the courage to climb to top of its crests, as the travelers reported it in their guides, and that is, for the anecdotal, au passage.
The Fahs, once, were a prosperous region where rich French colonists gentlemen-farmers had their estates, splendid châteaux, beautifully nested villages and farms that extend to the vanishing points, also inhabited by the native dwellers; the Arab Fahs, from which it draws its name. After the arrival of the colonists, the Arab owners were deposed of their proprieties in lieu of concessions given to the new settlers. From Blida to Algiers, and from Sidi-Feruch to Palesrto, all long the Metidja Valley, “the Grand Algiers” displayed the same image, swamps, and meadows, hills covered with forests and bushes. It is true that the new owners introduced modern agriculture concepts, and mechanisms, like drain canals to evacuate the flood of the Oued Mazafran, and the others affluent rivers that poor in to the basin of the Metidja Valley, and built dams and levies. Still, there was already an existing heritage of infrastructures to irrigate the lands, a system of aqueducts, and wells to draw water to the cities, as it was reported by commanders and generals of campaigns; beautiful mansions and estates covered the vicinities of the citadel-capital, and most of the population was literate, although it was in Arabic, despise the French civilization discourse. The main order was to destroy, burn and kill anything living on earth, people and animals, since the inhabitants were considered pageants. Thus preparing the terrain for the hordes of immigrants, coming from Europe, to populate the vacant country, in the 30’s as the recession hit the old world. The main resources of Algeria was agriculture, constituted of gigantically vineyards, orchards, and a vast fields of wheat
The day after July 5th, 62, once the joy of the Independence Day consumed, the Algerian people took the challenge of being capable to stand alone to manage the farms, factories, and all the chains of productions which were interrupted, and in total vacancy after the owners had left the country without governance. The First International Fair of Expositions was organized the next summer 63, where it was put on display the agricultural produces of Algeria , that were proudly exposed to the guests, friends, and visitors of the newly independent country. The French boycott of its produces, by the fact that they detain the monopole of the trade in the mean time, while they still there in Algeria, they were the main producers and exporters to the metropolitan city and elsewhere worldwide, hurt deeply the country . As a result, there was an over flow of perishable merchandises, and the capacity of its storage silos insignificant per rapport to it; Algeria was only but the attics, silos, and remote gardening backyards, a packaging factories for produces, and raw materials in transit instance to France. The harvests of grapes remained on their stems, the caves of the farm, and châteaux flooded of wine. The “auto-gestion”, the socialist self-management adopted then by the leaders, averred out of context, to resolve the crucial problems of the moments; all the socialist economies were based on trade of merchandises, they sought the same needs of foods, medication, and education as refined products, in exchange of ores, and raw material. Still the trade and exchange market was in the ownership of the foreign companies. As an immediate solution, it was painful to drag up from the roots all the grape trees, the second disaster was the claim as National Propriety of the soil reserved to agriculture that followed. To grasp the meaning, one must bear in mind that the notions of possession, inheritance and property are deeply endorsed in the mind of the population, and bloody tied to its identity and belief that their religion law stand for and decreed. Any change to the form might be accepted at its début, although it seems beautiful, and profitable, its is immediately rejected when in the founds contradict their perception of the traditional precepts and dogma.
During the colony time , the French military forced the population to migrate, and put the people in centers, and controlled settlements, to isolate the FLN from the support of the populations in the fields; the douars and mechtas constituted a precious help, and care for the hungry , wounded and continually harassed djounouds.
the war, and the long occupation left the country in total devastation, despite the efforts of civilization, and industrialization, introduced to the nation, but profited only to the Europeans. although Algeria is a vaster country, the fertile terrain was in possession of the colons, the neglected and of lesser value was left to the indigenes native people
The native small farmers, fully independents today, faced so many problems then, to trade the produces, to stock up the merchandise, even the raisers of live stock suffered from the ludicrous situation, to the point that many of them abandoned the ancestral activity to a steady job in the cities. The lands were laid fallow.
Years later on, the asphalt and concrete took over the fertile fields, new factories and a net of roads and houses built on detriments of good soil. So as of today, as you roam around the region, you can see sumptuous villas, erected projects of stabilized rent for low incomes, benefactions of modern urban life, but no more trace of the Fahs, and the small nested villages of the Golden past, swallowed by the lawless urbanism. Nostalgia put aside, this is the pile side of the coin. Or the dark side of the moon…modernism.
pardon for typing mistakes, the autocorrect is horrible…
thank you for reading, this not an apology for any kind…
In case it cross the mind, but just a state of mind, and kind of blues