Header Ads

The New Caledonian Algerians


   The Algerians of New Caledonia are people from Algeria who were deported to New Caledonia far from their homeland between 1864 and 1921. According to the archives, they were about 2165 deportees. The most famous are the deportees who led and participated in the insurrections of 1870 and 1871 in Algeria, which began in Souk Ahras and spread to Bordj Bou Arreridj and ended with the revolt of the Mokrani in the Kabyle region. This revolt led to the deportation of all instigators of the uprising. The first deported arrived in 1864 and the last in 1921.

     Before their departure, all the deportees received a registration number and the most of them were between 21-30 years old. Three routes have been taken: by the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Horn and the Suez Canal with stops for refueling fresh produce and especially fresh water. The trips were aboard ships (clippers) equipped with steam engines, specially designed for the transport of prisoners. These trips lasted between 140 and 150 days. The prisoners (deportees) slept on retractable camp beds; they were sixty grouped in cages. For their food, they received 800 grams of bread; 2 times a day bean soup, Wednesday and Sunday meat, Friday fish or cheese. Some were starving. 

  Once they were arrived, two different types of punishment were applied to Algerians, the stay in fortified enclosure on the Ducos peninsula in Noumea and the simple deportation to the Isle of Pines (in the 5th commune called "Arab camp"), a measure affecting the Most of them. They lodge in barracks and have a common room for prayers. Contacts between French and Algerians were forbidden. They used to work in cobalt and tin mines, road construction, and also in agriculture and horticulture. The Algerian deportees are at the origin of the introduction of the date palm in New Caledonia, some had taken with them nuclei they sowed on their arrival.

    Once released, the deportees are granted concessions of land of 4 to 5 hectares that they could cultivate. They gather in the fertile valleys of Boghen and Nessadiou also called "Arab Valley". The first Algerian to benefit from a concession was Isa Khamenza. 

Miloud Ben Abdellah who released on June 9, 1877, was granted a concession in Nessadiou and was the first of all the concessionaires to have started the cultivation of coffee. Some escaped and the most famous escape is that of Aziz Ben Sheikh Al Haddad in 1881. He managed to escape from the Isle of Pines, to join small craft New Zealand, then Sydney in Australia, and finally the Hedjaz in Saudi Arabia.

     There are few documents on the Algerians sent to New Caledonia, except for the military documents and the prison administration, and the testimonies of former Communards deported with them. While the communards were able to benefit from an amnesty in 1880, the Algerians of the Pacific remain exiled to thousands of kilometers of their ground in spite of the campaigns of sensitization of the French opinion in which the communards return to Paris participate. This amnesty came on February 1, 1895, but they remained under house arrest. They are only allowed to return to Algeria in 1904.

     There are many of descendants of the deportees from Algeria who continue to live in New Caledonia. Nearly 10,000 families have found their roots. There are three associations of descendants of deportees: the Association of Arabs and Friends of the Arabs of New Caledonia created in 1969, the Association of Algerians and Maghreb Descendants of New Caledonia (ADAM.NC), the Association of Muslims of New Caledonia created in 1975 gathers descendants of Arabs. The most famous descendant of this Diaspora is Jean-Pierre Ayfa also named Tayeb, born October 31, 1938, was nicknamed "the caliph". He was a descendant of deportees from El Eulma. He was Mayor of Bourail from 1977 to 2001 and was re-elected in 2008; he has also been president of the Territorial Assembly of New Caledonia on several occasions. He was also president of the Association of Arabs and Friends of the Arabs of New Caledonia. 

 Akli Yahyaten , an Algerian Kabyle famous singer, sung “ El Menfi “(the exiled) in the memorial of those Algerian deportees. In early 1986, the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Algeria invited a dozen Algerian descendants in Algeria. In 2005, the Ministry of the Mujahideen (martyrs) organized another visit. Others will follow, the latest being in November 2011. 

The New Caledonian Algerians. Written by ARAB Sabrina

No comments

Powered by Blogger.