Interview de Salim Djaferi au Théâtre de Sénart par les 1ere I

Le mois de décembre a été riche pour les élèves de 1ere I : Après leur expérience auprès des danseurs d’Afrique du Sud de la troupe Via Kattlehog, les voilà aux cotés de Salim Djaféri pour l’interviewer juste avant qu’il ne monte sur scène pour son spectacle Koulounisation.
Un grand merci au théâtre Sénart de permettre aux élèves de vivre de telles expériences

Voici les articles en anglais qui en sont ressortis, bonne lecture à vous !

Koulounisation By Manon Guyomard

On December 7th, at Théatre-Sénart, the actor, author and performer Salim Djaferi gave a show entitled “Koulounisation”
in which he brought up the subject of colonization and the words that characterize it, testifying on the history of Algeria and his family’s story.

Let’s first talk about history and the colonization of Algeria

Algeria was a French colony since 1830 and was divided into 3 departments. During the colonization the French changed many things in Algeria such as the names of Algerian towns, villages and streets to give them more French names, but also the manes of Algerians themselves.
In 1954 the FNL, the National Liberation Front that was an Algerian independence movement, organized numerous attacks against the French such as the “red All-Saints’ day” which took place on November 1rst, 1954. In response France sent troops to maintain order and stop the attacks leading to what was considered as the Algerian war for The French and as the Algerian Revolution for Algerians.
The French army committed many crimes during this war such as torture, killings and rapes. Around 400,000 Algerian civilians and combatants lost their lives during this war or Revolution. On July 5th,1952 after 130 years of occupation, the independence of Algeria was proclaimed.

The several hidden messages of Salim’s show

In his show Salim hangs a white thread and polystyrene for decoration. The choice of the white color may represent white settlers especially since they’re used to create limits or boundaries on stage.
At the beginning of the show Salim gives the different words that are used in Algeria apart from “Koulounisation” to designate colonization, highlighting their various meanings.
Indeed, they mean either “build” ; “fill” ; “put in order” or “destroy”.
This shows us the different visions on colonization and its impact. For some, it destroys cultures, national and individual identity ; others see a void that colonizers fry to fill in putting things in place and order ; some can see it as building a foreign country in a different way and finally imposing a language and culture on the country that is colonized. The impact of colonization may thus differ from one to another.
For example, Salim says that in Algeria what the French call the “Algerian war” is called by some Algerians “Algerian Revolution”, underlining two different points of view on the same event, that in the end should be considered as a revolution, not a war.
Several times during the show Salim presents a sponge and a bottle of wine in different positions : first the sponge and the bottle are side by side ; the second time the sponge is behind the bottle ; and then the sponge disappears and only the bottle can be seen by the audience due to the perspective Salim gave of the objects.

The wine bottle might symbolize the colonizers and the sponge might be a metaphor for Algerians who lost their lives and became invisible during this war. This thus could symbolize the growing dominance of the settlers and the positions of inferiority that they attributed to the Algerians during colonization.
This could also refer to the different points of view we can have on a subject, depending on the perspective we have, and the fact that we’re often sure to be right whereas, if we look closely, we can see the perspective we have is misleading.
At one point of the show Salim pours the bottle of red wine into the sponge, then hits his head on it, making his face covered in red. This could be a way of denouncing the massacre of Algerians by the French during the Algerian Revolution, and a tribute to Algerians who died and who were deported from their own cultural identity.

At one moment of the show, a white woman from the audience is asked to come on stage. First, she’s really discreet but then she starts talking a lot, ending up by leaving no room to Salim, as if she was colonizing the room, and taking his spot, function, place and identity.

Indeed, when she starts moving the scenery, she reminds us of the settlers who changed everything when they arrived in Algeria, as they thought things should be. She even forces him to clean his red face when he doesn’t want to, certainly referring to the desire of the settlers to hide the massacres and all the crimes they committed in Algeria, and reminding us the fact that they imposed many things on the Algerians.
This is highlighted when the woman reads us an interview of a former French general : his words are cruel, saying that he does not regret all the crimes he has committed, reminding the atrocity of the crimes that the French army and Government committed during colonization and the Algerian Revolution.
We recommend you to go and see this show. It is a very interesting and very moving show which makes us discover the painful history of Algeria, but also its strength to redefine and reassert itself.

KOULOUNISATION By Anne Elloh, Cassandra Deffand, Aarown Chauvet, and Emeline Chapart.

On Sunday december 17 2023, Salim Djaferi, actor, author, performer and director, presented his show entitled KOULOUNISATION at the Senart Theater.

A show built around his investigation on the Arabic way to translate the French word « colonisation » , thus sharing his discoveries to the world.
The lycée Talma’s 1ere I class and their English teacher interviewed Salim to find out more about the impact of colonization on his cultural identity and on Algerian culture, but also about the meaning of his show, which was realased in october 2021.

A journey through the history of Franco-Algerians

salim’s cultural identity : « i’m both »
As a child, Sali Djaferi grew up in an enormous cultural mix thanks to his Algerian origins, his French nationality and a little bit of Creole background from his neighborhood, facing thus the question of cultural identity since his childhood. He didn’t really travel in Algeria when his was a child but, when he travelled there older, he felt a little bit like a foreigner even with the love and goodwill of his family, and in France where he was born some still qualified him as a foreigner due to his origins.

Working on his show he had to travel a lot to Algeria. Getting closer to his origin he never felt more French or more Algerian, but rather described himself as an Algerian born in France.
It is therefore by performing his show that he wishes to share the cultural mix and the in-between richness in which he grew up.

With his show KOULOUNISATION Salim highlights and denounces the colonization of the French in Algeria and its impact.
On a wire he exposes all the evidences of the atrocity that the Algerians have overcome. He also puts a red liquid on a sponge to represent all the blood that was shed during the war in Algeria and at one point, Salim subsequently hits his head on the sponge. This brutal act shows the violence that the Algerians suffered at this time, their dehumanization, their loss of identity and their fight to get it back.
Then he asks some questions to a woman in the audience but, as soon as she arrives on stage, she starts to settle on Salim’s territory and even ended up locking him in a box.
This white French woman, who was in fact an actress of the show, epitomizes the oppression that Algerians faced and suffered during colonization by the way she acts with him on stage.
All these messages and metaphors in the show also invited us to realize the different ways we tend to treat others depending on the language they speak and their accent, revealing that in France there is a certain hierarchy in languages that was also imposed on colonized countries. Indeed, the Arabic language even became a foreign language and French the national language in Algeria.

Salim Djaferi, 37, is an Algerian actor, writer and director. He was born in France and grew up in the suburbs of Paris. In high school he thought about theater as a hobby because he supposed it was a job just for really rich people. Then he tried his luck at a drama school in Belgium, graduating in 2010. As he couldn’t work full time and earn a living from his passion first, he had to do several jobs on the side, such as waiter in cafés, bars and restaurants. He gave up his additional jobs in 2015 and became a full-time actor.

Since he was a child, Salim Djaferi always wondered about his cultural identity, leading him one day to ask questions on how to say ‘colonization’ in Arabic.
Surprisingly he got different contradictory answers, from words that mean “building” to ones meaning “destroying”. That’s why he decided to make a show out of it and after having performed this show around the world he would like to do it in Algeria now but will he succeed ? We wish him to !

News Show : Koulounisation By Boullye-Barral Alexandre

The class of 1ere I of Talma High School went to see Salim Djaferi’s show, entitled Koulounisation, at Théâtre- Sénart in Carré Sénart on December 17, 2023, with the aim of deepening their knowledge about the impact of colonization on cultural identity.

Colonization is a highly debated topic that Salim Djaferi chose to share a new perspective of, in his show Koulounisation.

A quest for knowledge

There is no spelling mistake here regarding the name of the show, but a true message. Indeed, "Koulounisation" is the phonetic way Algerians pronounce the French word “colonisation”, which was the triggering element of Salim Djaferi’s quest for knowledge.

Why this French word only to deal with colonization ?
The story begins with Salim’s reflection on the Arabic translation of the word colonization. He therefore asked his mother, who answered "Koulounisation."
Doubting about this translation, he went to do some researches in a library and discovered that the French colonization was linked to the Algerian war which was in fact not seen as a war in Algeria but as a revolution. This revelation on the different perspectives colonizers may spread and colonized people may have is highlighted by the translations Salim found during his researches and with the help of his surroundings and specialists. Indeed, the Arabic translations could either be “put in place and in order”, “build”, or “destroy”.

Algerian identity

At the beginning of the show, Salim is pulling a string at the back of the stage where he attaches the identity cards of some members of his family while explaining the history of Algeria.

He uses his own ID card, his mother’s and his grandfather’s to illustrate the impact of colonization on Algerians, their country and on his own life even though he was born in France after the independence of his parents’ country. He thus highlights how the names of Algerians were changed and mentioned all the changes the population and the country underwent to better fit French standards.

Evolution or destruction

Through this performance and his experiences, Salim Djaferi tries to depict a country marked by its past under French colonization, emphasizing on the fact that everything is a matter of perspective.

At several points in his performance on stage, he shows the audience a sponge and a bottle side by side, but upon closer inspection and from different angles, they never really occupy the same position, drawing parallels with the Algerian War, which for some is or a war while for others it is a war of independence led by people dreaming of freedom.

The table that Salim builds at the beginning of the performance but that he later destroys while covering his face with red ink, demonstrates how self expression was broken by the brutality and violence colonization, and is still biased by this past. The red ink that he refuses to erase represents the violence suffered by Algerians and their refusal to forget and bury this part of their history but that the white woman obliges him to take off, symbolizing the denial of French people about what they did to Algerian people, their cultural identity and their country.

In conclusion, this show is a historical lesson hidden behind a somewhat surprising title, reflecting Salim’s thoughts and point of views on colonization and its impacts, from past to present and giving the viewer a new perspective of the future.

Education Unleashed : Free Theatre for High Schoolers and the Diverse Tapestry of « Koulounisation »By Chloé Lamy

On december 17, 2023, a class of 1ere from Talma high-school had the opportunity to explore the world of live performance, enthusiastically visiting Senart Theather to discover the captivating performance of Salim Djaferi in Koulounisation.

Innovative Educational Initiative : Free Theatre Enriches School Experience
High-school students recently benefited from an innovative initiative enabling them to attend free theatrical performances, financed by their school and the education department of the region.
Most students recognize its refreshing character, offering a different and enriching approach to learning. Opinions may differ on whether these events should take place outside school time or not, but the fact that they are free is universally hailed as a good idea. For many, this theatrical exploration represents a welcome change that encourages experiential learning and strengthens cohesion between students.
The interviews the students gave to artists emphasize the rewarding nature of this initiative, considered by the majority to be an excellent idea that leaves its mark on students’ minds and encourages a diversity of pedagogical approaches.

A varied show from light humor to deep reflection
Koulounisation elicits various opinions from spectators, revealing a range of emotions and perceptions. Some emphasize the touch of humor making the show light, entertaining and deep at the same time. Others describe it as uncomfortable, provoking disturbing reflections on history and ourselves.
The instructive aspect of the show also emerges in the comments of the audience, highlighting the amount of knowledge given by the actor.
The repetitive aspect of the show stresses its pedagogical aspect without hiding intense moments that are at once moving, sad or even distressing, but rather highlighting its pertinent, thought-provoking discourse and underlining the idea that "history repeats itself", perhaps indicating a universal depth in the treatment of the subject.
Viewers described the fact-based show as nourishing and its originality also stood out evoking an offbeat, historical, strange and surprising atmosphere, raising cultural social and political issues.

In short, reviews Koulounisation reflect the diversity of human reactions to a show rich in emotion, knowledge and interpretation. Everyone seems to find a personal experience in it, either joyful, disturbing, instructive or intriguing.
In addition, the innovative initiative of offering high-school students free theatrical performances outside school time is proving to be both a controversial and stimulating educational experience.

THE SALIM SHOW By Maïssa Griboux, Clémence Boulay, Esther Barbato, Léa Aubry.

Salim’s show, performed on December 17th at Senart Theatre, gave us an explanation of the French colonization in Algeria, through a linguistic approach on the different words and meanings used in Arabic to translate the word colonization.

Image caption : Salim during his show Koulounisation.

The interview

While he was in high-school Salim Djaferi studied drama, which pushed him to try a school in Strasbourg after his final exams. Although he didn’t like the competitive mindset there, he didn’t give up his passion and went to a post-graduate drama school in Belgium. During his studies and even after his master degree in drama at the ESACT of liege, he had to work as a waiter in Brussels to make a living until 2015.

Image caption : Salim took a photo before a show.

Salim’s origins on stage

Salim Djaferi is a 37-year-old French Man of Algerian origins as his grandparents came to France a while before he was born in Seine-Saint-Denis, France.
Due to his origins people often think Salim speaks and understands Arabic but, in the interview, Salim explained to us that it was not the case. He reported that he understands Arabic because he has heard it often but has never learnt it and only spoke French at home, at school and with his friends. Moreover, during his childhood he only went to Algeria a few times with his parents because they didn’t have enough money to go often to Algeria to see their family.
That’s why he considers himself as a French with Algerian origins, enriched by his cultural in-between identity.

The ambitions of the actor
Salim Djaferi is a comedian who wants to succeed, he learnt is show by heart and played it in several countries, like Romania, Italy, Montreal, South Africa and especially in many cities in France.
The show was created in Belgium where he stayed after his studies. In the future, Salim would like to play in Algeria to close the cultural loop and ensure a legitimacy for him in the country of his family.

Image caption : Salim Djaféri facing his spectators during his show

Viewer’s opinions
We interviewed students from the Talma high-school class of première I to get their opinions on the show. There were different feelings about the show.
Many students found this show interesting and surprising, especially when Salim hits his head on a sponge filled with a red liquid that symbolizes blood, which made some students feel confused and emotional.
Despite the repetitive aspect of the show the spectators all agreed in saying that they got a deep message and a real awareness on the difficult life Algerians faced during the French colonization. Salim explained on stage that there are 3 different ways to translate the word colonization in Arabic language with 3 different meanings : building, putting in order, or destroying ; giving thus different visions about colonization, the ones of the colonized, the ones of the colonizers.
Then the students were moved, surprised and marked when Salim Djafery explained, the modification of Algerian social codes by France, as for example when he showed how the members of his family had to change their surname on their French papers because they were too difficult to pronounce for the French, or when these ones changed the names of the streets, cities and places to be more convenient for them. The students thus learnt about the ‘Frenchification’ of Arabic language, words and culture, getting the importance to talk about it.
In addition, some students found that the accomplice of Salim in the audience caused discomfort, which was the purpose of the actors, to make the audience feel how colonizing others is not normal. Indeed, the woman interpreted Salim’s words, made him do things for his own good according to her, taking more and more space on stage, as if she was colonizing his territory, imposing her vision and her presence until he ended up in a coffin that she made for him.
Finally, the repetitive structure of the show was well crafted with both explicit and ambiguous moving metaphors.

Koulounisation : a play produced By Jamil Dekkar, Lucas D-Amico and Clement Berrier.

Talma High School’s 1ère I class attended a dance performance of a South African company on December 5th and returned on December 17th for another play written and played by Salim Djaferi who specifically explored the colonization of Algeria, focusing on the complexities of the term "colonization."
The narrative of this show originated from a fundamental question : how to translate "colonization" into Arabic ? The author explored this inquiry through interactions with various sources, including family members of Algerian origin, friends, specialists and relevant literature. However, the investigation revealed not only the absence of a precise translation but also the divergence in meanings across different cultures, eras and time.

The definition
Today, colonization is defined as the process whereby a nation extends control over foreign territory by establishing settlements, involving some political, economic, and cultural dominance. Despite what North African countries endured, Salim argues that there is no precise Arabic translation of the word “colonization”, leading to varied associated terms with different meanings.

The translation
In his performance, Salim presents five translations of "colonization."
The first, "koulounisation," reflects the French influence on Arabic language and pronunciation. Another term, "isti’mar," stems from "ammar," meaning "build," evolving into a translation for colonization. Additionally, "isdammar" is derived from "dammar," offering two more translations.
As the show progresses, a comparison emerges between the definitions provided by the colonizing country as a way to build or improve and those given by the colonized nation as a way to destroy or erase.

The Vision
While researching about the Algerian war in Algeria, Salim faced difficulty finding relevant works as Algerians refer to this war as the Algerian National Revolution, highlighting the disparity in perceptions between France and Algeria. Consequently, the show is not solely about colonization but rather centers on the nuanced understanding of the term "colonization" and its impacts, offering the audience a narrative on the past and on the cultural identity of Algeria thanks to linguistic nuances.

The play goes beyond colonization, underscoring the divergence of perspectives between France and Algeria, about the "Algerian National Revolution." highlighting the complexity and divergent perspectives of the events through words, pronunciation, etymology and semantic.


On sunday 17th december 2023, the 1ère I class from François Joseph Talma high-school went to Théâtre Sénart for a school trip to watch a one-man-show entitled Koulounisation with their English teacher, as part of their curriculum on colonization and its impact.

Koulounisation is a show that highlights the impact of colonization on cultural identity, first through its title based on a pun on word between the French word colonisation and its Arabic pronunciation, and then through the different words used to translate colonization in Arabic and their various and even contradictory meanings.

Hidden messages in Koulounisation

At the beginning of the show, even before we could enter the room, Salim was already untangling a string so that later he can get it from one side of the scene to the other, giving us the sensation of a frontier being built, a secluded territory, that may let the audience have a feeling of imprisonment.

This thread on which his family’s identity papers were hung, may refer to Algeria’s timeline, scarred by French colonization, Algerian war or revolution, but also refers to those who were hung on the thread of life at that time, to the various real and symbolic massacres Algerians suffered from, but that were washed away since then by the French.
The sponges soaked in red water also hung on that thread, letting stains in an evident way, emphasize this idea and helps us to understand more easily that only 2 generations before his have endured all this.
Last but not least, the moment Salim was hitting repeatedly his head on the table may represent the pain Algerian people had to endure during colonization and the war.

Koulounisation, a good or a bad translation ?

The woman from the audience that Salim invited on stage, was in reality an actress that was part of the show and who took more and more space on stage, as a metaphor referring to the interactions between France and Algeria.
Indeed, at the beginning she was only a spectator of the show, who was just doing what Salim was asking her to do. However, little by little she made her own decisions, until she entirely took control of the situation.
This may represent France coming to Algeria in a "friendly" way, but gradually taking control of the entire territory and its population.

When Salim talks about "Koulounisation", he metaphorically uses a lot of white in the stage setting, because he may have wanted us to think about this predominance and its impact on people’s reality.

You may be wondering what kind of spelling Koulounisation is, but there’s actually no misspell concerning the show’s name, but a real message.

Koulounisation is the spelling of the phonetic Arabic pronunciation of the word colonization which is the entire show’s common thread.
Indeed, the spectacle starts with Salim Djaferi’s reflection on the translation of the word colonization in Arabic. He asked his mother who answered him that for her it was "koulounisation".
Unconvinced, Salim went to a library and even went to Algeria in order to search information about this word, and consequently found information about the Algerian war, or rather about the Algerian revolution.
This changed his perception of this event and opened him up to different perspectives of the word colonization too. Thanks to his relatives and specialists, Salim found 4 ways to translate colonization in Arabic : Build, Organize and fill up, Own without any permission, and at last Destroy.

After all, behind what may seem an insignificant title was hidden a real message from Salim, about the past but also the present, thanks to his narrative thread and his way of being and acting on stage.