Saturday, 27 June 2015

Algerians of New Caledonia

Descendants of those exiled in New Caledonia regain their Algerian identity

Over 20,000 Kilometers away from Algeria, besides the 27 hours on plane from Algiers to Paris then Tokyo and then New Caledonia which are islands scattered in the Pacific Ocean, there are about 20,000 Algerians that are descendant of the deported Algerians to New Caledonia they were deported because of their participation in the revolution of Mokrani in 1871. Also a special thanks to the efforts of Seddik Al-Taouti and a handful of faithful friends they have been able to link the Algerians of New Caledonia to their families in the homeland of their ancestors and they have been able to go there for the first time since deportation in 1864.

Deported Algerians in New Caledonia

Descendants of the deportees remembering him

Al-Taouti saved them from 130 years of loss between history and geography
Despite the passage of seven years of his death, but still the Algerians of New Caledonia are still owed to Dr Seddik Touati with love and sincerity how not, he is the one who told them about their ancestral affiliation to a country called Algeria which is located on the other side of globe. On the footstep of his father Mustafa Kemal Al-Taouti son of Seddik Touati has continued on his father’s work on connecting the bonds of blood and religion among the descendants of Algerians deported to New Caledonia and their motherland Algeria despite the distance between the two countries, Mustafa Kemal accompanied his mother took a visit to New Caledonia on 27 November 2008 for the revival of the third anniversary of the death of his father Seddik Touati, Algerians of New Caledonia slaughtered a calf for this occasion and prayed theirs prayers for Seddik Touati.

This event was covered by the local newspapers of New Caledonia, Mustafa Kemal has visited the cities of Bourail, Nessadiou, Touho and Hienghène where the tomb of Kanak rebel leader Jean-Marie Tjibaou is located, Mustafa Kemal has promised the Algerians of New Caledonia to link them to their families in Algeria.

Arabs of New Caledonia are looking for their origins!

The story of discovery of the Algerians of Caledonia by Seddik Touati who was unaware of their origin, in the beginning of 1980s when the conference was organized for Muslims of the pacific like Fiji, Mauritius and Tonga islands, which include a minority population of 20,000 Muslims that make up less than 10% of the population in these islands.

Seddik Touati was the assistant to the president of Islamic Development Bank assigned to Muslim minority in the world and during the conference Seddik Touati met an Muslim Australian man called Fadlallah Walford as they were talking he told Seddik that he heard that they are people in New Caledonia say that they are  Moroccans in origin but still they are searching for their roots so why don’t you go see them there. Seddik Touati went to New Caledonia in order to help those Moroccans finding the roots, they were mixed with the tribes of Kanak (indigenous peoples) and the French who occupied the island until today, the Algerians of New Caledonia had been dissolved into the French culture and if Seddik did not help them they would have been living in loss of culture.

Discovery of the exiled Algerians in 1982

When Seddik Touati went during his first visit to New Caledonia in 1982, he took this case very seriously then he spoke to the president of Islamic Development Bank Mohamed Ali Al Madani, who agreed to help the Muslims of New Caledonia by linking them to their religion and origins.

Seddik traveled to Nouméa the capital city of New Caledonia, he suddenly met man in the hotel he’s name was Ali ben Ahmed Lucia, nicknamed “Lulu” Seddik thought he is of Moroccan descent but after a long chat with him, Dr Seddik discovered that he is of Algerian descent his father is from Tiaret and his mother is from Laghouat.  Seddik Touati who holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Sorbonne in France has told Ali that he came to New Caledonia in order to establish a link to the Muslims of New Caledonia, Ali ben Ahmed Lucia got interested so he promised Seddik to help in his task and to show him the cities that has Arab population like Bourail and Nessadiou.

City of Bourail

The exiled Arabs and Berbers in New Caledonia are Algerians not Moroccans!

The Caledonian Arabs did not believe that there would be someone coming from the other side of the globe to New Caledonia to help them identifying their origins, and the happiness filled their hearts they were asking themselves are we finally going to discover our ancestral homeland a question that every Caledonian Arabs and Berbers asked themselves who am I? Where am I from?

The Caledonian Arabs and Berbers were so happy that Hundreds of them with 50 cars rushed to the airport waiting for Seddik Touati in order to welcome him. He also discovered that the Arabs of New Caledonia have an association he also visited the cemetery which includes the graves of the Algerian deportees to New Caledonia since the nineteenth century, then he observed the names of the dead he found out that most of the names are Algerian names, Seddik spoke to the Algerian community and he told them that they are descendants of the Algerians who participated in revolution of Mokrani in 1871.

First Mosque Build in New Caledonia

Seddik Touati meet with Taïeb Aïfa who was Mayor of Bourail and other Algerians, Seddik solved the biggest mystery that baffled the Arabs of New Caledonia, so he told them to identify their needs and value it so the first thing he did for them is he built a Mosque for prayer, School to teach Arabic Language and Cultural Centre in order to save their children from losing their culture because they never know nothing about Islam, Saudi Arabia has funded the mosque financially which is located in Nouméa and cultural centre was built in Bourail where the most of the Algerians lives.

The descendant of the exiled Algerians to New Caledonia are now linked to their homeland, especially when Seddik Touati helped them to be linked with their families in Algeria. In 2004 the Algerian Government invited the leaders of the Algerian community in New Caledonia to visit Algeria in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Algerian revolution.

Cultural Centre of the Arabs

Algerian Flag in every house of the Exiled Algerians

Finally the exiled Arabs in New Caledonia have a homeland which is Algeria and a language which is Arabic and a religion which is Islam, also they all hanged Algerian flags in their homes Seddik Touati has visited New Caledonia four times and Algerians of New Caledonia will now visit Algeria regularly especially when they now been linked to their families in Algeria.


Algerian Flag

References:

Reflexion, The painful history of Algerians in New Caledonia (French) – [http://www.reflexiondz.net/La-douloureuse-histoire-des-Algeriens-de-Nouvelle-Caledonie_a14823.html]

International instate of social history, Deportation to New Caledonia (English) – [http://www.iisg.nl/collections/new-caledonia/

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