Henda

Born 1 July 1927, Algiers Casbah, Algeria. 

 

Actor in the National Liberation Front’s artistic troupe. It is at school that Handa first becomes aware of the difference and the discrimination between Arabs, Jews and Europeans. She joins the Algerian Scouts in the Casbah which is very anti-colonial.  Through the Catholic ‘White Sisters’ she is trained as a professional nursing assistant.

 

When her brother-in-law is arrested, she leaves for Paris but at the Algerian border she meets a Tunisian woman on her way to Tunis.  Henda decides to go with her to Tunis where she meets many Algerians involved in the FLN.  At this point she is contacted by Moustapha Kateb, director of the FLN dance troupe, who asks her if she can dance. She replies ‘yes’ and is recruited on the spot. The entire team tour around the world, going to Egypt, Iraq, China, Yugoslavia, Libya and the Soviet Union.  They perform the play The Children of the Casbah (Ibna El-Casbah) by Abderrahmane Boualem Rais.  Premiered in Tunis on 10 May 1959, the play tells the story of three brothers from the Algiers Casbah who join the anti-colonial struggle.     

 

Patriotic songs are sung at the beginning and end of each performance and the Algerian flag is waved. In this way theatre is a way of continuing the struggle by means other than arms and building solidarity with the Algerian cause across the globe. The idea is to tell the Algerian story through song and acting. The troupe moves to the Tunisian border in 1958 to be on the battle front against French colonialism.

 

At the end of the war in 1962 Henda returns to Algiers. She still lives there.