“And you Renaud, what do you think? It was a kind of ritual, to Young Africa like a Review. When a major subject was debated at an editorial conference, when opinions were opposed, when interpretations diverged, Béchir Ben Yahmed (deceased in 2021) often liked to turn to Renaud de Rochebrune. Enter in Young Africa in the 1970s after starting his day-to-day career The worldRenaud had first worked on Economyone of the titles of the group, before occupying multiple functions at JA, then at Review. A slender figure wrapped in a faded mustard-colored jacket, the person launched himself, in his scratchy voice like no other.
When BBY gave him the floor, he did it with mischief, almost with amusement, as the two of them knew each other by heart. Because Renaud, everyone who knew him knows, had an opinion on (almost) everything. And knew how to present and defend this opinion with talent, emphasis and, often, with a certain stubbornness. Whether talking about cinema, the hardening of the Chinese regime, fluctuations in the price of oil, the results of the socialists in power in France, literature or the war in Algeria, his great passion and the great affair of his life, Renaud always had something to say, and it could go on for a while. And cause virulent debates, which BBY feasted.
Editor, author, journalist
An economist by training – he had studied at HEC, like the founder of Young Africa, which helped to strengthen the special bond that united them – Renaud had a thousand lives. Journalist of course, but also editor – at Denoël, mainly –, author, historian, film critic… Cyclist, too, because cycling was a passion that he satisfied to the end. He gladly recounted his ascents of the famous Mont Ventoux, in the south of France, and remained able, at the age of 70, to embark for South Africa with a friend in order to participate in an amateur race organized in Cape Town.
Author and publisher, he had collaborated on several biographies of historical figures such as Mao or Messali Hadj, and had had some success in the early 1990s with his book The bosses under the occupationco-written with his friend Jean-Claude Hazera.
More recently, he had published with Benjamin Stora a monumental Algerian War seen by the Algerians, the two volumes of which were published in 2016 and 2019. “We met in the 1990s, he had come to interview me about the civil war that was tearing Algeria apart at that time and we very quickly became friends . He came to see me in Morocco and it was there, I remember very well, that he proposed this idea to me: to write a history of the Algerian war, but seen by the Algerians. I said yes, but I didn’t think it would take us 20 years and it would be such a huge job. »
“He was working all the time”
The two friends never left each other – Renaud was faithful – and multiplied the work together, leaving together for Ramallah to interview the Palestinian leaders, writing articles on the cinema, one of their other common passions. “He was very learned, very historian, he knew billions of things, still remembers Benjamin Stora. He was always overwhelmed, he worked all the time, day and night. Renaud and I are really 20 years of intellectual companionship. »
With Young Africa also the companionship was long – almost 50 years – and fruitful. Alternately journalist, editor-in-chief, advisor, member of the editorial committee, Renaud a summer of all adventures, following Béchir Ben Yahmed to Review while continuing to deliver items to JA.
“We had met in the mid-1970s, then found ourselves in Review, confirms his friend the economist and publisher Marc Guillaume. We were still together a fortnight ago, I went to see his house in Creuse, he came to mine in Aveyron. We talked about cycling, we wanted to do climbs together, I had associated it with the ecology magazine that I am about to launch, we had a thousand projects… I was devastated. »
At 75 – which he celebrated on March 22 – Renaud remained on all fronts. His last article, we published it last Wednesday and it was about Ordalies, the tribunal of the invisible, a subtle film by Hadrien La Vapeur and Corto Vaclav on magical practices in the Congo. His next article should have dealt with the film The Woman King, on the Amazons of Benin. During his conversation on the subject with the person in charge of the culture pages, he confided that he did not like the film, too Hollywood for his tastes as a cinema aesthete, but he still wanted to show the most positive aspects of it. He was already preparing to go and see Black Panther IIwithout much enthusiasm but with a consummate sense of duty.
More at ease with arthouse films than with mainstream blockbusters, he shunned the worldliness of the world of cinema, but still loved following the big gatherings of the profession such as Fespaco, in Ouagadougou. , the El Gouna Festival in Egypt or the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France, which he never missed. He had moreover become one of the best specialists in African cinema, of which he had interviewed most of the great directors.
Renaud de Rochebrune was one of those characters who didn’t fit into any box with whom Béchir Ben Yahmed liked to surround himself. He was also, in his own way, indomitable: devoid of any taste for consumption, content with an intense intellectual life, he steered his boat in complete freedom. Without God or master. Hello, Renaud. And thank you.
The whole team of Young Africa joins in the pain of your loved ones and your companion, Françoise.
Find below some of the articles signed by Renaud De Rochebrune :
“Harkis”, a film that will displease as much in France as in Algeria
Algeria – Benjamin Stora: “After the Evian agreements, everyone remained on their guard”
Cannes Film Festival: Africa on the Croisette in eight films
Algeria: Ben Bella, Boumediene… The Evian Accords and the battle between “politics” and “military”
Mahamat-Saleh Haroun: “I came to cinema through literature”