review L’ETRANGERE

This autobiographical book follows the first volume, that I reviewed last week. This first book ‘La prisonnière‘ Malika Oufkir recounts her life at the court of Moroccon king, where she entered after an adoption. After her father, general Oufkir, had been executed in the days after a coup in 1972. Oufkir’s wife Fatima and her children (together with two female friends) are put in prison, where they stay for twenty years.  

In this second volume Malika tells about her life after she and her relatives gained freedom, first a partial one in Morocco, later a fuller freedom in France and the United States of America. I wrote ‘a fuller freedom’ for the burden of the past cannot be left behind in a moment. 

Mailika Oufkir finds it very hard to adjust to a kind of life that is very normal to others. She tells about her days in Paris, where she lives with her French husband Eric. It is hard for her to walk the streets. It is hard for her to enter a shop. It is hard to for her trust people. It is hard for her to get used to paper money and money in the form of cards. It is hard for her …. 

One of the hardships is to get to terms with her relationship with the country of her birth Morocco. Does she love this country, does she hate this country? Her love outshines her hatred. 

The death of king Hassan II (her adoptive father and her tormentor), in 1999 is a kind of a new birth. The throne is now taken by Mohammed VI. There is a small public moment of reconciliation when the Oufkir family is mentioned in a national newspaper. The new king opens the gates of the prison in Tazmamart. The government always had denied the existence of it. Several people get the opportunity to visit this place of horror. Malika is present, as is a son of Ben Barka (General Oufkir was sentenced in France for the death of opposition politician Ben Barka), also Abraham Serfaty, who lived in exile, is there to see the place of disaster. No mention is made by Malika if she has spoken to Ben Barka’s son.     

King Mohammed VI start a Commission that looks into the possibilities of recompense for the victims of previous regimes. Six years later the Commission is ready to announce the results. The name of the Oufkir family is being cleared. Malika’s mother Fatima tries to reposses her properties in Moroccco.  

In the end Malika makes a important observation. After all those years she is able to answer love.

Malika Oufkir – L’étrangère – 2006

L'Etrangère

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semper

I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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