A story from Algiers, the ‘White City’ of North Africa
For long enough, the city of Algiers, many a time called Alger la Blanche (Algiers the White), has been “spared” from too much attention from the rest of the world; as if it was an almost invisible, undetectable dot on the world atlas. Until one day, a stunning music video started going viral on YouTube and immediately caught the attention of everyone who enjoys good dance and electronic music. The track was ‘Territory,’ and it was the work of a French duo, until that point not so known, called The Blaze.
As much as the beat of the song was captivating, so was the music video during the first watching, where an emigré returns home, to Algiers. First, a touching, moving, emotional reunion with the family, while the melody follows a more meditative tone. Then, the musical, the party hour irrevocable. As the rhythm takes it to the stars, so does the video culminates with a daytime dance party somewhere on a rooftop in Algiers. The scene is beautiful, overlooking the Mediterranean, showing hills dotted with strikingly-beautiful houses and villas of white, nestled by the seaside.
All of a sudden, the feeling is there, some longing to know more about this place, and finally reminded of a country, and a city, not every news outlet speaks too much.
There is a rare and thrilling beauty felt when seeing a caption of Algiers, but why it has remained ‘invisible city’ in the recent decades when that has not been the case in the past. Just think back what a popular destination for winter holiday Algiers used to be for Victorian England.
Then the turbulent years, if not decades followed for the North African country: a fiery closure of the French colonialism, then also a civil war that would take its course during the 1990s and which would claim the lives of hundreds of thousands people. Not to mention the occasional terror attacks.
Which is why we have forgotten of Algiers, a city with a touch of the Phoenicians, with an echo of the Romans, the Byzantine, and the Ottoman.
From the more modern-day architectural features: boulevards built in the French manner, in slight contrast with the Socialist-era public edifices and monuments. Amid of it all, probably the soul of the city, its indivisible part of the entire synthesis: the Casbah hillside, the lasting Islamic heart of Algeria capital.
And as the protagonist of the video returns home, so does the video itself, in a rather symbolic way, brings the city of Algiers back to its ‘place on Earth.’
There are other aspects of the video that have managed to confuse people though slightly, an impression easily obtained from reading what YouTube commentators have written. The candid “bromance” surrounding the main protagonist for one, being misinterpreted by many as a significant gay-like moment. Hence a bunch of comments explaining that this is simply a guy, returning from the country where he had emigrated to, probably France, and is now finally home, among his people, friends, and close family. Or as the lyrics go, ‘there’s nobody like my mom / there’s no place like my home since I was born.’
The playful “bromance” moment is even more in focus in the debut short film produced by the French duo, for their song “Virile.” Which proves the fact that Blaze is not only emerging music maker but that filmmaking, as much as music production – is well in their strengths.
In case you have not checked out The Blaze yet, here’s their channel.