A link between tradition and modernity, the songs by Nora At-Brahim are a good example of the achievements of a many- levelled culture.

Nora At-Brahim was born in Algéria at Ain El-Hammam (formerly Michelet) in the Grand Kabylia (Djurjura Mountains). Being a girl, she was not sent to school at an early age but, endowed with an iron will, she managed to achieve high educational standard after unrelently studying trade, law and sociology. After having emigrated to France and got married, she devoted herself te, poetry and singing. Immersed, ever since she was a little child, in Berber poetry orally handed down from grandmother to mother and daughter, having grown up with those ancestral songs about the rugged life of the Kabyles in their remote mountains or alluding te, the lot of women in that society, she soon felt prompted to write poems of lier own and sing on the occasion of family celebrations. Very modern- minded are the songs in which she puts forward her right of expressing her opinions even beyond the limited family circle. Her fighting spirit, she bas her father to thank for : having taken in his principles, she can sing, for anyone who cares to listen to her, not only about beauty and love but also about the lot of women, emigration, the sufferings going with being torn between two different cultures, the daily recurring struggle an Algerian woman has to fight for the right to live in full daylight.

She bas had several albums recorded, of various inspiration. Whether she sings about the native soil, strikes up a festive tune or deals with currents events, she can bc ironical about the shortcomings of this our world. While being open to the improvements brought about by our tinte, she remains attached to tradition and the Berber language. In lier songs she always finds a way to pass on the teachings of the past and the traditional wisdom of a civilization that bas known nothing as yet but oral transmission and collective memory. Family celebrations, village fêtes give her a good opportunity to introduce more people to the value of that Berber culture she loves.

A. HACHELAF - October 1998

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