Fierce Female of the Week: Lalla Fatma N’Soumer

It’s time for another Fierce Female of the Week, and this week we’ve got a seriously rebellious and amazing Algerian resistance leader from the early 1800s by the name of Lalla Fatma N’Soumer.

Lalla, is actually a term similar to “Sir, Lord, Lady, or Dame” in Berber, and those who are befitted with this title are held in high esteem within their country – a title which is well deserved in the case of Fatma N’Soumer! Fatma also known as Fadhma, was an Muslim Algerian woman who led many during the resistance against the French Army, who were aiming to invade and colonize Algeria from 1830 onwards.

Fatma was a learned Muslim woman, who became a hafiza when she was quite young, and she studied as much as she could get her hands on, despite most of the classes and books being given primarily for her male counterparts. Upon being arranged a marriage, she denied, and put her efforts elsewhere, focusing on gaining knowledge and fighting for what was right. She fought for the freedom of her people, and refused to let them suffer if she could help.

She would speak at great lengths to many who would gather to rally against the French forces, and inspired multitudes of people to join her in her desire to free Algeria from the grasp of the French Army. Fatma befriended many leaders who would continue to support her, and she eventually made her way to the battlefront, fighting against the French Army directly, and would go on to lead troops on her own for a handful of years following.

Fatma had gained such an extensive following, that when the French Army came to a village and requested to know her location, not a soul would disclose it to them, and preferred to be bombed and killed than to reveal her whereabouts. An entire village! The Algerian people adored Fatma for her devout faith, her belief in her people, her refusal to surrender, and her bravery. It was her firm and immovable faith that led her each day to step forward in battle, and above all else she credited her victories to this alone.  

Unfortunately, Fatma was captured during the battle a few years later, and was taken hostage by the French Army. They destroyed her home, her library filled with important and priceless literary works, and used up all of the money that she had. Not a stone was left unturned, and everything was absolutely destroyed. She spent approximately six years imprisoned by the French Army, and eventually came to die while imprisoned. The hardship of prison life and the treatment she received led her to die, much to the despair of her people. Fatma was a true inspiration, and died fighting for a cause she believed in, and for the people in the country she loved.