Friday, July 11, 2008
How not to make an official Amazigh webpage
As I just learned from a comment on Awal nu Shawi, Algeria's High Commission for Amazighity, the government body set up in 1995 in response to the demands of Amazigh (Berber) activists for cultural recognition, finally has a webpage. I wish I could even manage to be surprised that the site is written exclusively in French - the only Tamazight present is in the title, and they don't have even a single word in Arabic - or that the content is meager and largely bureaucratic. How is it that our next door neighbour Morocco - with a rather less militant Amazigh movement and a rather smaller budget - can manage a beautiful, trilingual, fairly content-rich website like IRCAM for its equivalent body (and put the page up much earlier, at that), while Algeria's own HCA can't even be bothered to translate its website into a single Algerian language? Can you imagine going to the Academy of the Arabic Language site, say, and finding the whole page in French? A site like this makes it seem like its producers are interested neither in promoting the development of Tamazight nor in communicating with the majority of Algerians who read Arabic better than French. The Amazigh movement in Algeria is frequently accused of being just a Trojan horse for the promotion of French language and culture; you would think the HCA would take more trouble to avoid seeming to confirm this accusation.