The French War

Rebellion cannot exist without the feeling that somewhere, in some way, you are justified.     

Albert Camus

As the inaccessible region of Kabylie had often been left to its own devices by both invader and occupier, the mountain villages developed, out of necessity, their own social and legal organisation. This system is still, by and large, maintained today. Each village is autonomous, a little like a city-state, but bound loosely together into a federation of neighbouring villages. Continue reading


The Lady of the Mountain

Bougie – la ville éclairée par son nom.

Bougie – the town illuminated by its own name.

-Dalila Smail

After having spent three months in the capital of Lower Kabylie in 1897, the Austrian archduke, Louis Salvator de Hapsburg, had been so taken with the natural beauty of Bejaïa and the soaring mountains and headland that protected it, he wrote a book about it on his return, illustrating it with thirty-three engravings.  Continue reading

The City Of The Air

One of the chapters from my first book.

Constantine, the city where man lives higher than the eagle.

—Constantine the Great


If Algiers is a grand old lady, Oran a good-time girl, Mostaganem a bluestocking with a chequered past, then Constantine is an eccentric great-aunt. I imagine her dressed in flowing draperies, with perhaps an exotic silken turban perched on top of her henna’ed hair, and her veiny hands covered with age-spots and heavy gold rings. Continue reading