Words from the Maghreb: Plural Identities. Memory and the Manifest

Al Koni, Ibrahim
Quaderns Divulgatius, 15 2000

The whole secret is to be found in memory, because we only live in memory and we die when we lose it. Only with the help of memory will old enemies end up being reconciled, will yesterday, today and tomorrow become united. With the help of memory, the miracle will occur and cruel disorder will be put to an end. In memory lives the inheritance that allows us to return to life, giving us back the history that we believed forever lost in the inflexibility of time. Over the memory of the desert there blows a tempest more powerful than the winds of the Kabyle, capable of shaking the foundations of the soul of a nation, of drowning something manifest within the breast, of silencing voices and songs on the lips, capable of obliging many rites to cede under its attacks and many powerful people to leave their places, out of pure shame or desperation, to abandon the throne and to open up the way for the new lords blown in by the hurricane. The poet must use the treasure of language to say what language has forgotten. As guardian of the legacy of existence, the poet must resort to what is manifest to transmit to the children of this existence the legacy hidden in any message. What is manifest then becomes the messenger, the bearer of the message. History teaches us that the survival of the children of the message depends on the permanence of the message and on the manifest content hidden by the message. For once and for all, destiny has ended up condemning those tribes who have been treacherous enough to permit the legacy of memory to be lost, when they forgot not only that it resides in what is manifest but also that it exists thanks to the manifest.

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