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Shawiya (Algeria)

Last modified: 2012-05-01 by ivan sache
Keywords: shawiya | berbers | letter: ezza | mouvement pour l'autonomie du pays chawi |
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Presentation of Shawiya

The Shawiya people live mainly in the Aurès mountains, located in eastern Algeria. The Shawiya dialect is the second most speaking dialect in Algeria, after Kabyle. In 1912, the Shawiya speakers represented 8.5% of the autochthonous population; no reliable statistics on the use of dialects has been made available since then.
A recent estimation based on partial data collected in 1986 gives a proportion of 3.7% of the Algerian population speaking Shawiya. The apparent decrease in the proportion of Shawiya speakers over the 20th century is partially explained by emigration to the towns, where the native language was lost, and, mostly, by the general underestimation of the numbers of Berber speakers. The Berber identity indeed resurface only recently in the Aurès, mostly in the 1980s, for instance with the emergence of modern Shawiya songs.

The most famous Shawiya was the writer Kateb Yacine (1929-1989), the founding father of the French-speaking Algerian literature (he cherished the French language as a "war booty"). Yacine rejected the words "Shawiya", "Kabyle" and, mostly, "Berber" as pejorative, promoting the use of "Imazighen". A great defender of the popular culture, he also wrote in dialectal Arabic and Tamazigh and supervized the translation of his own work into Tamazigh.

Ivan Sache, 12 February 2012

Shawiya Autonomous Movement

[KabFlag of MAc]

Flags of MAC - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 February 2010

There is little information on the Shawiya Autonomous Movement (Mouvement pour l'Autonomie du Pays Chawi - MAC), whose name and acronym suggests it is modelled on the Kabyle Autonomous Movement (Mouvement pour l'Autonomie de la Kabylie - MAK).

The website of the MAC, in construction for ages, shows "flags" not backed up by any source.
The flag actually used by the MAC is shown on a photo of members of the movement who joined on 20 April 2011 a demonstration organized by the MAK to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the "Kabyle Spring". The flag is yellow with the black Berber ezza letter in the middle.

Ivan Sache, 12 February 2012