His songs have made him a true icon for the Kabyle people. Slimane Azem wrote during his various travels through France, which took him from Lorraine to Paris and as far as Moissac, where he is buried.
Slimane Azem was born on September 18, 1918 in Agouni Gueghrane, in then French Algeria. He undertook the long journey from his native Kabylie to the metropolis to settle in 1937 in Lorraine and work in the steel industry. Mobilized during the “phoney war”, he then went to the capital in 1940 before being requisitioned for the STO (Compulsory Labor Service) in the Rhineland.
From Paris to Montaigu-de-Quercy
Upon liberation, he took over the management of a Parisian café, where he performed his very first compositions, the beginnings of a long and prolific career. Fine musician, poet and outstanding lyricist, he will become the banner of the Kabyle diaspora, a people left behind by the acceleration of history and decolonization. He regularly joins his brother Ouali (father of Bruno), a former deputy who became a farmer in Montaigu-de-Quercy, which ends up anchoring him in Tarn-et-Garonne. He will thus share the last two decades of his life between his Parisian career and his small farm acquired on the heights of Moissaga, with his wife Lucienne. He died in Moissac on January 28, 1983, where he was buried.
A garden in his honor
In 2008, the municipality of Moissac, under the impetus of municipal councilors Kader Selam and Alain Manchado, inaugurated a small garden in the heart of the abbey perimeter, in homage to the great Berber poet. Persona non grata in Algeria for eminently political reasons, “Da” Slimane will never see the mountains of his childhood again with great regret.