Obituary: Youcef Sebti

Youcef Sebti, poet, journalist and chemist; born El Milia 24 February 1943; died El Harrach 28 December 1993.

YOUCEF SEBTI, the Algerian francophone poet, was another victim of the recent political unrest in Algeria. According to official sources, his death brings the number of Algerian intellectuals killed this year to 18.

Born in El Milia, Djijelli, in 1943, Sebti began to write poetry in his twenties. His best-known work is a collection of poetry, L'Enfer et la folie, published in 1981. Sebti belonged to the group of Algerian poets known as the generation of 1970. By the 1970s Algerian literature had made its mark internationally, becoming known mostly in the field of the novel, while francophone poetry was yet to be discovered. It was thanks to poets like Sebti that Algerian francophone poetry came to be given its due.

Yet writing was only a side-line for Sebti. A science graduate, he began earning his living as a research chemist before becoming a full-time lecturer. He first taught chemistry at the agricultural college of Skikda. He then took up a lectureship at the National Institute of Agronomy in El Harrach, near Algiers, a post he held until his death.

Although a francophone writer himself, Sebti was fervently engaged in promoting modern Algerian Arabic literature in his column in the weekly periodical Revolution africaine.