(Traduction : Emmanuelle Andrès)


Hello Badr…


To start with, I am going to speak to you in the Amazigh language about the memories I have. I sometimes forget our language. What you can hear now are my cousins’ voices, recorded during a walk we took in the Rif…


It is a way for me to give a start to our back and forth recorded exchange… As background noise, I have chosen a video which was recorded in the Amazigh language, to give me confidence. It is not as easy as I thought it would be to get started after all…


It is quite unexpected to find myself speaking Amazigh, by myself, to a tape recorder. I am in Meylan at the moment. It is 1:15 pm and I haven’t had lunch yet. I’ve made myself some coffee… At times I will be speaking to you in the Amazigh language and at other times I will be speaking in French.


I will feel more comfortable speaking to you…


When speaking about language fluency, you said in your last tape…


Yes, by the way, your tape arrived here on November 14th. It took one week for it to get here because of the strike.


I received your tape late, because of the strike. You were saying on your last tape that you found it hard to speak on the phone in the Amazigh language with your relatives, that your dad did not understand you. In fact I am realizing as I speak that I have been experiencing the same thing… the same thing as you.


When I call my family on the phone in the Rif or even here in France, words do not come easily because the language fluency gets lost when you don’t practice it on a regular basis.


But when I am in the Rif the words come back naturally and so does the fluency.


But I think the language you speak depends on the context you are in. In France I am surrounded by people who do not speak this language, so I never practice it because on a daily basis French has been my language for many years.


I’ve been told that I speak Amazigh with a French accent.


I’ve been told that I have a funny French accent when I speak the Amazigh language. People find it funny when I go to Morocco. I don’t realize what it must sound like to be speaking it with a French accent…


When I go and see my family there, they find my French accent surprising and funny.


My family is really surprised to hear me speak the Amazigh language with a very strong French accent. They are surprised to see that reversal; they find it funny, especially when I go to the souk.


In Morocco I am expected to articulate each and every word to make sure I am understood. It takes me a few days to adapt and for my words and expressions to sound right again. When I came to France as a child I did not really speak the Amazigh language.


I was born in Tazouda, Morocco, and I was only one year and a half when my parents, my two brothers and I went to live in Algeria. My father had found a job in Algeria, a few years after it became independent. We lived in Algeria for four years; meanwhile my father had gone to work in France. We spent two years without seeing him. Then my father took care of our paperwork for us to come and join him in France. When we were in Algeria we spoke Arabic. Sometimes my mother would also speak to us in Amazigh and even in Spanish. It was quite a complex and rather funny mix of the three languages.


And so when we arrived in France, we spoke these three languages in which we had been immersed and to which we added a fourth one: French.


At that time, when we arrived in France with our parents at the beginning of the 1970s, we spoke these three languages to communicate between us.


It was a funny, fifth language we made up from the four languages from which we had drawn our vocabulary to communicate between us.


I thus made my way in this culture, practicing my language, made of all the borrowings we had made. At that time we had not gone back to Morocco; we had left Algeria to come to France.


My father had found a job at the Grau du Roi. We arrived in Marseille, and then we took the train.


We arrived in Nimes; then we bought a bus ticket to go to the Grau du Roi.


The Grau du Roi is a small harbor on the Riviera — still as beautiful as ever.


In the late afternoon, we arrived at the house where we were going to live— an amazing house with a garden.


The house was located in what was still a natural reserve. At the time, i.e. thirty years ago, the buildings that are today all over the Grau du Roi hadn’t been built. There were flamingos, egrets, many bird species, especially the flamingos which would go and spend the winter in Africa and then come back in the spring. I had come to a place whose landscape I didn’t know.


I didn’t know this kind of landscape, the big Mediterranean Sea with its fishing boats, its marshland. We arrived in France on the eve of Bastille Day.


On Bastille Day I saw fireworks in the sky. I didn’t understand what was happening; I didn’t know what it was. I only knew how beautiful it was and at the same time, how frightening, because of the noise it made. I was scared and my father reassured me by explaining it was meant as a celebration.


I remember staying and gazing at the sky with those multicolored fireworks I had never seen before: a sky made of fire and color



Created by Badr Hammami and Fadma Kaddouri at l'Appartement 22