E04 – Zohier and the Wolves and the Lions


(apologies for the lower-than-usual sound quality on Zohier’s side, we did the best we could!)

timestamped notes

1:31 ~ ablutions, in this case, are a ceremonial cleansing of different parts of the body with water to prepare for making prayers. Ablutions act as sort of a break from secular life and a preparation for worship.

2:24 ~ madeleines

9:24 ~ ‘alif. This letter is in the top right. One can easily imagine how an extra line could change the letter and even the word. An English analogue might be adding a horizontal line to the “c” in cat could make it eat.

The Arabic alphabet.

10:30 ~ The Ace of Life and Starless Daylight. If you want to read this budding author’s work, it is on Amazon (not affiliate link).

11:01 ~ Rougag (or Chakhchoukha). Rougag is a hearty stew served on flatbread made from seminola. You will find different variations from region to region but it is commonly eating at special occasions as Zohier mentions. A recipe (in French) in case you want to taste!

Rougag or Chakhchoukha

11:21 ~ Gratin is the halfway point between scalloped potatoes and lasagna. Again, the variations on this dish are endless, but there is no doubt it fits in the comfort food category.

11:47 ~ Tajine refers to both the dish and the pot used to cook the dishe. These pots are are quite unique and can be found in neighbouring countries as well. Tajine pots come in all sorts of designs but are traditionally made from clay; nowadays you can find them made out of many materials including aluminum and cast iron.

An enameled cast iron tajine

13:25 ~ Algerian history. Despite being occupied by the Ottomans, the Spanish and the French and also being subject to attacks from stronger powers on a frequent basis, Algerians tenaciously hold to their pride and honour as independent people. Dependence on oil for the economy paved the way for a lengthy civil war (called the dirty war) when the oil prices crashed in the 1980s.

14:05 ~ Lions and Wolves. I couldn’t find the exact idiom in my research but there are many many idioms in Arabic about lions. Some claim there are over 300 words for lion. Zohier very clearly describes the meaning of the proverb and the veracity can be checked by any number of nature films.

18:56 ~ Tassili and Hoggar

Chelia Mountain

19:44 ~ Romans ruins are found in Timgad. The ruins in the Aurès Mountains date back to about 100CE when Rome was ruled by Trajan. After being sacked by Vandals and brief repopulation under Byzantine rule, the city succumbed to the blowing sands in the 7th century until it was stumbled upon in the 1700s.


Zohier’s unabashed optimism was uplifting and I certainly enjoyed my conversation with him. From the first contact we had to the final approval for the episode, he was gracious and jovial. He mentioned how important learning and self-learning was to him and to, as he called it, the “educated generation” he felt he belonged to. I feel this was borne out in his well-thought out responses to my interviews and his willingness to share.

I certainly wish all the best for him as he completes his schooling and embarks on reaching his goals in life.