Monday, February 21, 2011

Makilam and the Kabyle Women of Algeria

In the last few weeks it's been hard to keep up with the continuous news of yet another revolution coming out of North Africa . This afternoon it  has me thinking about a fascinating woman and friend, Malika Grasshoff .  I met Mme.G in Bosnia  just about this time last year at a conference for women where we worked on a particular project together for three days.

This woman. She has chutzpah. She is theatrical. She says what she means. I loved her instantly.

I saw in her my many sisters, mothers, grandmothers - the grand dames of the continent that exemplify what I consider my lineage - righteous and elegant women. Women who are by their very nature 'feminists'. Simple and profound.

Not cute, mind you. Nor subservient or mysteriously feminine or in any way caving in to the patriarchal dictum. Knowledgeable. Deliberate. Also charming. Full of power without ever resorting to man-erisms.

I could go on and on about her- but the reason I am posting is to link to her site, draw attention to her art, which is her work - this splendid story telling of an ancient female culture that obviously  lives and breathes through the story teller. I don't know if what is going on in Algeria and North Africa affects the Kabyles, the Berbers - I would imagine that it does and as such, hers is an interesting history to know.

We met at the conference.  Her decision to help me with some scheduling complications took us on a madcap trip to Sarajevo for a meet up with a VIP acquaintance of hers who would supposedly help us break through the famous Balkan bureaucracy. That particular angle did not work, unfortunately. But I had so much fun running the Bascarsija with her, it almost didn't matter!

 As a cultured and wise woman who's life work and books are dedicated to the ancient Kabyle culture of  the North African continent, I imagine she would have a lot to say about these current events in North Africa. If and when I hear from her again I will report.

Here is more information on Malika from her website: 

"Makilam is a Kabyle, a historian and a PhD. She was raised in a village of the Djurdjura, (a region of northern Algeria) until she was seventeen, and has since lived in Europe. She has always remained very close to her roots, and her testimony, interspersed with personal experiences, sheds completely new light on the rituals and myths of this vanishing society."

For information about her work at the 2nd World Congress on Matriarchal Studies on the Societies of Peace  web site you will find her presenting her research via podcast in 'The Four Seasons of Life of a Kabyle Woman'.


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