60 years ago, Algeria celebrated its independence for the first time

60 years ago, Algeria celebrated its independence for the first time

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A crowd waves the Algerian national flag and plays traditional musical instruments in Algiers, July 1, 1962, the day of the referendum on self-determination.

This passing of the torch, Mohamed Batache has been waiting for it for sixty years. His patience will finally be rewarded under the night sky of Tipaza, a coastal city located nearly 70 kilometers west of Algiers. The troupe of young musicians, which he has recruited and trained, is invited to take part on Monday July 4 in the parade through the streets of the ancient Roman city, which kicks off the celebrations of the 60e anniversary of Algeria’s accession to independence.

For weeks, the orchestra, affiliated with the scouts of Cherchell and awarded the prize for the second best brass band in the country, has been relentlessly rehearsing the military songs chosen by the teacher. ” The succession is assured “smiles Mohamed Batache, with the satisfaction of a job well done.

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He was almost their age when he took part in the festivities organized during the proclamation of the country’s independence. At the forefront, like his students today. The operation had been mounted in the greatest secrecy by officers of the National Liberation Army (ALN), as Algerians went to the polls for the referendum on self-determination, held on 1er July 1962.

At the time, Mohamed Batache attended the National Conservatory of Music in Cherchell where he learned to play the saxophone. “We were asked to prepare for a parade. We boarded a bus without knowing where we were going. We barely had time to pack a bag.remembers the youngest of the band, who had just celebrated his fifteenth birthday.

“Celebrate the victory over colonialism”

The training takes place in the headquarters of wilaya IV, a regiment of the revolutionary army, suspended on the steep slopes of the Tell Atlas. The conditions are rudimentary, the discipline iron. Under a heat to melt the asphalt, the budding musicians equipped with their instruments go back and forth at the head of a procession in which the guerrillas, in tight order, learn to walk in step. “It was brand new for them. They’ve never done that before.”emphasizes the saxophonist of the band.

After three days of rehearsal, on the morning of July 3, they begin an unforgettable tour. First Médéa, then Blida. At each stopover, a jubilant crowd, which shattered the shackles and constraints imposed by a long colonial domination. “Tahia El Djazair”, “Istiklal”… The cries tearing the air still echo in the concert player’s ears. “We were staying with families. The welcome was warm. It was a moment of communion and reunion.recalls Mohamed Batache.

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