Algerian raï enters the intangible heritage of humanity

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Algeria rai 1 entered Thursdayer December, to the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO. It is a great tribute to this secular music genre that became popular all over the world in the 1990s thanks to Algerian artists like Cheb Khaled, Cheb Hasni or Cheb Mami. Disco Maghreb is the label provided by the UN agency for the co-director of the mythical music studio Tarik El-Kébir “worthy reward”. “Raï has its place in the classification of world cultural heritage. He transcended years and boundaries and knew how to unite a large number of people thanks to the approaching themes in songs like impossible love”the music producer rejoices, happy to see the music genre condemned for its crude, even vulgar lyrics, finally rehabilitated. “Raï was banned on radio waves and television antennas for a long time. Now the state of Algeria protects this famous art. It’s a fair return”greets

Also read: Harissa, the national spice in Tunisia, is classified as an intangible heritage of humanity

In its application file, Algeria mentioned the literal meaning of raï ” my idea “ appeared in Arabic at the end of the 19th centurye century Experience first “amidst the rural population and nomadic herders of the high desert plains in the west of the country and the Sahara Atlas”, flourished after independence in 1962. Oran became its capital during the great rural migration to the later urban centers. It is also mentioned in the presentation note that raï “It has established itself internationally thanks to the Algerian community living abroad, mainly in France”.

Nasreddine Touil, the artistic director and co-founder of the raï festival in Oran in the 1980s, hopes to breathe new life into the music genre, which has suffered massive damage since the early 2000s, by being included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. piracy. Production is artisanal, and mass productions are limited to cabarets. “Rai’s global recognition will not only help preserve this legacy, but will also allow us to rebuild and restart the music industry by bringing past songwriters back to center stage, opening recording studios and accompanying a new generation of singers.”wishes to this active member of the Association for the Protection of Art Cultures and Musical Heritage of Oran (ACPPMO) who participated in the preparation of the application file.

“Public Folder”

Unfortunately, since Monday, UNESCO’s cultural heritage committee, which has been examining around fifty appeals including Tunisian harissa and French baguette, is headed by Morocco for its seventeenth session. It has long disputed the paternity of the rai with Algeria, a great political, diplomatic and cultural rival to the east. To the point of doubting him before giving up on a possible 2020 candidacy. In the same year, the Algerian authorities submitted the appeal file to the UN agency, which caused controversy in the Kingdom of Cherifiya after the first failed attempt in 2016.

In Morocco, the approach continues to be confusing. Morocco’s ambassador to UNESCO, Samir Addahre, does not regret it “unable to provide shared file” The severance of diplomatic relations between Algeria and the two countries was taken into account. In 2020, Rabat and Algeria agreed to submit a joint application with Tunisia and Mauritania for the inclusion of couscous, the iconic dish of the Maghreb, on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

Read also “Couscous has survived centuries without destabilizing”

On the Algerian side, it is hoped that Thursday’s decision will put an end to the dispute “useless” about the origin of this music genre. “The discussions are closed. Great Moroccan artists themselves know that raï is 100% Algerian »Nasreddine Touil considers. “The controversy must end because it is indisputable that Rai was born in western Algeria. However, this does not prevent Moroccan artists from excelling in this music genre and continuing to produce songs that we will enjoy listening to.”Tariq El-Kébir says.

Before Rai was added to UNESCO’s Intangible World Heritage List, Algeria had already registered six “cultural elements”: Gourara Ahelil (in 2008), especially Berber weddings, the women’s wedding costume of Tlemcen (in 2011), Sidi Sheikh’s Rab pilgrimage (in 2013), Imzad, a type of Tuareg violin (in 2013), Sbeiba in Djanet (in. 2014) and commemorations of Sbouh in Timimun (in 2015).

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