In 1968, fresh from participating in student revolts in Paris, Ahmed Benyahia attended the inauguration of a statute of the Emir Abdelkader in the centre of Algiers. He was not impressed. The proportions appeared all wrong, with the horse of this nineteenth-century hero of the Algerian resistance looking more like a donkey. Determined to do better, Ahmed returned to his home town of Constantine and tried to interest the regional and local authorities in funding the building of a statue of a hero of the War of Liberation, Youcef Zighoud (1921-56). The statue would become an object of controversy between the local authorities in Zighoud’s village of birth, the regional headquarters of the party of the National Liberation Front (FLN) in Constantine and the presidential office in Algiers. Ahmed tells a story of the struggle to come to an officially-agreed version of the past, with arguments about ownership, legitimacy and regional balance resulting in the statue of Zighoud being more often hidden from view than on public display.
The long history of a short-lived statue
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