Stills from video interview, 2021
‘Documenting Djedou’ is a poignant and ongoing project that delves into the captivating world of my grandfather's life, seeking to preserve his captivating stories and experiences from a pivotal era. Inspired by a profound interest in personal histories and a desire to cherish the wisdom of older family members and ancestors, this project evolved into a compelling mission to safeguard the legacy of my beloved grandfather.
The foundation of this journey emerged from an Alzheimer's scare that struck our family, compelling us to act swiftly and diligently in capturing the memories and recollections that define my grandfather's extraordinary life. Through intimate and heartfelt conversations, I embarked on the endeavor to document his personal narrative, weaving together the vibrant threads of his past.
My grandfather's childhood in French (colonial) Algeria unfolded before my eyes, as he shared stories of his youth, including his time as a shoe shiner on the bustling streets of Setif, catering to the French soldiers who shaped the landscape of the era. His accounts shed light on the hardship and adversity he endured, battling the specter of racism that lingered in those tumultuous times.
An integral part of his story entwined with his involvement in the independence group FLN (Front de Libération Nationale), an organization that played a pivotal role in seeking liberation from colonial rule. My grandfather's bravery and resilience as a participant in this movement held a profound impact on his life and shaped his worldview.
As I filmed him recounting these powerful narratives, I embarked on the creation of mini videos, artfully juxtaposing his recollections with archival footage from French Algeria, meticulously sourced from various repositories, including esteemed archives like Kinolibrary on YouTube. By merging his personal accounts with historical documentation, the project emerged as a dynamic portrayal of a momentous period in history, brimming with raw emotion and captivating visual storytelling.
Beyond storytelling, 'Documenting Djedou' extends to the preservation of our family's visual history. To ensure the longevity and accessibility of my grandfather's old photographs, I diligently scanned each photograph, transforming them into digital format. This digitisation process not only safeguards the photos against deterioration but also facilitates the sharing of these invaluable memories with family members across generations, bridging the gap between the past and the present.
As an ongoing project, 'Documenting Djedou' continues to unfold with new discoveries and chapters. The richness of my grandfather's life has revealed a plethora of untold stories, anecdotes, and family connections that are still being documented and recorded. With each passing day, I continue to delve deeper into the layers of our family history, cherishing every moment shared with my grandfather and endeavoring to unearth the intricacies of his remarkable journey.
As the custodian of these cherished memories, I am committed to carrying this project forward, ensuring that the legacy of my grandfather and our family endures for generations to come. 'Documenting Djedou' embodies not only the past but also the present and the future, binding our family together through a collective celebration of our roots. It serves as a tribute to the resilience and spirit of my grandfather and the countless individuals who shaped our family's narrative, inspiring a profound appreciation for our shared history and fostering a stronger sense of belonging and pride among current and future generations.
Mohamed Benzahda, Ain Arnet Setif 1988
Mohamed Benzahda, Ain Arnet Setif 1988
French military book for Pay Allowances and Tabac-Stamps, 1953
French military book for Pay Allowances and Tabac-Stamps, 1953

Left to Right: unknown, Khmisi Benzahda, Mohamed Benzahda, unknown, unknown, Tahar Tolba

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