Integration and repatriation

The need for love was extremely great. A small number of women had been deported together with the French, but in the Algerian enclave only men were present. Mixed relationships were the only option. Serious candidates for marriage with an Algerian had to be French women, whether they were convicts or less than clean. To marry an indigenous Canaque woman was unthinkable. The Canaques, the original inhabitants of New Caledonia, were considered savages by the majority of the colonists. Only a few individuals, such as Henri de Rochefort and Louise Michel, were inclined to take them seriously or even idolize them.

MarketIn 1878 there was a Canaque insurrection against the colonists led by chief Ataï. Two hundred of them were killed, including a Dutch family and three Algerians called Moussa, Bou-Djeinaa, and Ali ben Agoum, according to a local list of names. The Canaques were eventually defeated with the help of auxiliary troops, les Eclaireurs (the scouts), under the leadership of Boumezrag. Apparently the Algerians felt no mercy or affinity with this people that had been subjugated by the French. There were 1200 casualties among the Canaques.

BaptisteA general amnesty for the communards was declared in 1880, and many of them returned home. But the Algerians had to wait for amnesty until 1895. Louise Michel and De Rochefort had been lobbying to achieve this. The majority of the Algerians stayed in New Caledonia as farmers, married, and eventually were fully integrated. They settled in Nessadiou, a place that today still contains a Muslim community and an Arabian cemetery. The present mayor of Bourail, Jean Pierre Aïfa (*1938), is a direct descendant of the deportees. Aziz El Haddad, the son of sheik El Haddad who started the rebellion in 1871, successfully escaped in 1881 via Australia, Egypt, and Saudi-Arabia. He ended up in Paris to claim his family's confiscated properties. He died in 1895. Boumezrag was repatriated in 1904 to Marseille. He was no longer welcome in Algeria with his new French wife - a misalliance according to his family. He died in 1906, leaving an impoverished widow in Rouen. She repeatedly sent requests for social support to the governor of Algeria, but in vain.