Notable Farhis

Amar Nezzal (Amar Oubouzaggan) 1909-1973:

Amer Nezzal: photo courtesy of Malik Djafer

He is the son of Belgacem Nezzal and Mbarka Lakcir, born in 1909 in Ain Zaatout. After the primary education in his natal village he moved to Constantine for high school then to Paris in 1940 where he graduated in 1945 in Arabic, Berber and law studies.

After graduation he worked as a repetiteur at the Ecole Nationale des Langues Orientales Vivantes de Paris until 1950. While in "Langues O" he assisted the eminent linguist and founder of the modern Berber linguistics Andre Basset in numerous researches. His linguistic and anthropologic research contributed to the documentation of the Shaoui language, particularly its Farhi variant, and Farhi social life during the first part of the 20th century. According to Fanny Colonna he also worked, while in Paris, as a judicial expert, radio broadcaster and college teacher and was a well known and respected personality in theatre and broadcasting circles in Paris in the 1940s and 1950s. During his stay in France Amar always kept in touch with his village by financially helping his father and frequent visits.

In the 1950s he suffered a nervous breakdown and stayed in a psychiatric hospital in Paris. After the Algerian independence he returned to Batna and worked as a college teacher in Batna and Constantine. He died in Constantine in 1973.

Ali and Mohamed, Amar's cousins, worked as French teachers in Beni Farah but left at the beginning of the Revolution. His brother Said lived and died in Beni Farah and was known to be the witch doctor of the village.

Mohamed Benhamza (Si Mohand Oulbachir) 1910-1992:

Born in 16 May 1910 in Ain Zaatout to Bachir Ben Hamza and Aicha Beledjebl in a very large but poor family. Sheikh Si Mohand Oulbachir learnt the Quran in the village and managed to travel to Constantine and be a pupil of Abdelhamid Benbadis the father of the reformist movement in Algeria. After his return to his village, the young Si Mohand opened a Quranic school near his home that also served as a community school teaching in Arabic in defiance to the colonial ban of such establishments. He also taught at the newly opened madrassa sponsored by Jamiat el Oulama before it was shut down by the colonial authorities. After the independence he worked as the imam of Thaawint mosque in Beni Farah for more than half a century before moving to Biskra. He always lead a unified Farhi jamaa (congregation) for eid prayers in open-air whether it's cold or hot, dry or rainy; a tradition that's sadly lost after his death.

Sheikh Si Mohand was also a militant of the Algerian Revolution.

Professor Ali Benslitane (Ali Oussaid)

The rector of the University of Constantine, one of the largest universities in Algeria, in the 1980s.

Ambassador Smail Chergui (Smain Oumaammar) 1956-

A diplomat with the Algerian Foreign Affairs ministry since his university graduation. He's born in 4 September 1956 in Beni Farah to Ali Chergui (also known as Massaoud Oumaammar) and Zinab Fedden Sder (Zinab Outchettouh). He started his education at the local school and Quranic madrassa in Beni Farah but his family soon moved to Batna.

He started his diplomatic career in 1980. He worked in the Algerian embassy in Morocco and at the Press Department of the Algerian Foreign Affairs ministry before heading the Foreign Minister's chancellery. He was sent to Geneva in Switzerland as Consul General before holding the position of extraordinary plenipotentiary ambassador of Algeria in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, for many years in the 1990-2000s (In 2002 he's the Sub-Regional Dean of North African Ambassadors in Addis Ababa). In Addis Ababa Smail Chergui was the head of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union from July 1999 to July 2000. During this time he played a major role in negotiating the Algiers Agreement that ended the Eritrean-Ethiopian War, a border war fought by the two countries from 1998 to 2000. 

Ismail Chergui also was Algeria's permanent representative to the Organization of African Unity (OAU).

After returning from Addis Ababa he was appointed Director General of the Africa Department of the Algerian Foreign Affairs ministry's central office (according to a short interview he has given to the Russian monthly Diplomat, issue 10, 2008).

In early 2008 Smail Chergui was appointed as the Algerian ambassador to the Russian Federation. In 24 February 2010 he presented his credentials to the Arminian president as the ambassador of Algeria to the Republic of Armenia with residence in Moscow.

Ismail Chettouh (Si Smain) 1932-:

An incredibly resilient shopkeeper who started the business in the early 1960s and kept it running since ever. The shop serves people practically 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and sells everything imaginable: fresh and dry food, drinks, tobacco, medicines, clothes, footwear, DIY tools, school ware, ammunition, etc. Si Smain is a talib of Quran; he always takes part in funeral recitations.

Lazhari Behhaz (Lazhari Oubahhaz):

Ex-Moudjahid and industrialist based in Algiers.

Boubaker Zouaoui (Gaga Ouzouaoui) 1951-:

A self made rich entrepreneur specialising in building and construction. He is from a modest background with no formal education whatsoever. The young shepherd has started his business as a taxi driver then quickly moved to currency trading, transportation and finally construction. To his credit the guy has kept down to earth and he is well respected by all Farhis.

Gaga Ouzouaoui is the son of Mohamed Zouaoui and Oum esaad Manzer; he's born in 31 July 1951.

Mokhtar Ghrara (Makhtar Oughrara) 1942-:

He's born in 22 July 1942 to Ahmed Ghrara and Mbarka Gachem. He knows a single workplace: café; and he's the manager of the oldest café in Beni Farah (L'kahwa n'Makhtar). He is probably the person that knows more about Farhis than anyone else.

Ali Boudenet (Ali Ouboudount) 1934-:

A militant of the Algerian national movement before and during the revolution, then an apparatchik and former mayor of Beni Farah from 2002 to 2007. He's now a member of the Assembly Populaire de Wilaya, or APW, (a provincial legislature council) in Biskra.

Ali Boudenet's birthday is 06 February 1934. He's the son of Mohammed Boudenet and Fiala Labaal.

Ali Boudenet in his office in Beni Farah, November 2005

- General Major Abdelhamid Abdou (Abdelkrim Ouyazza):

Promoted to the rank of General Major of the Armee Nationale Populaire (ANP) in 05 July 2004. He held the prestigious job of commander of the Academie Militaire Interarmes (Military Interservices Academy) of Cherchel, Algeria, until May 2005. Now retired and lives in Batna.

General Major Abdelhamid Abdou, December 2007

Lieutenant Colonel Ammar Mallem (Ammar Oumaallam):

After many years as a moudjahid with the ALN (National Liberation Army) Ammar Mallem joined the algerian army to reach, at the end of his career, the second highest rank of ANP at that time, i.e., lieutenant colonel. He is now retired and lives in Batna.

Mohamed Bellounar (Salah Oumanzer or Si Salah) 1923-1999*:

Si Salah was an ALN officer and the Wali of Ouargla in the new independent Algeria. He's born in 1923 to Mohamed (ben Ali) Bellounar and Zohra Benbrahim. He was a nationalist militant with the Union Démocratique du Manifeste Algérien (UDMA) then the Mouvement Pour le Triomphe des Libertés Démocratiques (MTLD). He joined the FLN in 1955 and later became in officer of the historic Wilaya 6. As such he was a member of the mixed commission that supervised the ceasefire between the ALN and the French army in 1962. After the independence Si Salah was nominated the Wali (governor) of the Ouasis province based in the town of Ouargla in the south of Algeria until 1964. From 1966 to 1980 he was the director of a state owned textile factory in Oran until 1980 when he retired. He died in Oran in 1999.

*This short biography is written thanks to the valuable info contributed by Mohamed Seddik Bellounar, the eldest son the late Si Salah.

Algerian president Ahmed Ben Bella (in civilian clothes to the left), Colonel Mohamed Chaabani (in the middle) and the wali of Ouargla Mohamed Bellounar (to the right of the photo, in civilian clothes), December 1963

(photo published in

Abdelmadjid Chelouai (Si Majid Ousimhand):

An ALN officer and FLN apparatchik.

Ahmed Benbrahim:

An ALN officer and FLN apparatchik.

Farida Blouss (Farida Outblouss):

Broadcaster with the Algerian radio in the 1970-1980s.

Fadhila Bahhaz (Fadhila Outbahhaz) 1948(?)-:

TV presenter with Algeria's RTA (later to become ENTV) in the 1970-1980s. She is the daughter of Lazhari Bahhaz and Zohra Haddadi. Fadhila is a Farhia born in Biskra but she spent a part of her childhood in Beni Farah during the Algerian Revolution while her father was in the maquis of Djebel Beni Frah. After the independence Fadhila moved with her family to Algiers where she became a main presenter with the RTA.