Connect with us

Art

Nobel winner Mahfouz lives on in Cairo’s alleyways5 minutes read

Published

on

Nobel winner Mahfouz lives on in Cairo's alleyways
A mural depicting Egyptian novelist and nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz is pictured behind the al-Azhar mosque in downtown Cairo on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

The legacy of Islamic Cairo’s most famous son Naguib Mahfouz lives on in its winding lanes more than three decades after he became the only Arab to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A mosaic of the bespectacled author overlooks a market teeming with children on bikes, waiters balancing trays of hot drinks and shoppers haggling with hawkers over the price of meat.

It could be a scene straight out of a typical Mahfouz novel focusing on the minutes of life in the Egyptian capital, with its satirically political overtones and timeless characters.

Nobel winner Mahfouz lives on in Cairo's alleyways
Portrait of Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006) 1992 ©Gattoni/Leemage

After years in the making, a museum in the writer’s honour opened in July this year.

A new translation of previously unpublished Mahfouz work is also in print, underscoring 13 years after his death the mark he made both on world literature and on Egyptians themselves.

In November, young writer Ahmed Mourad sparked controversy in Egypt when he suggested that the quality of Mahfouz’s work needed to be adapted to make it more contemporary.

The backlash at this tarnishing of the great man’s reputation forced Mourad to go on the popular television talk show circuit to clarify his comments.

Mahfouz is considered to be the father of the modern Arabic novel: he broadened its literary range by pushing through sacred red lines including religious taboos.

Nobel winner Mahfouz lives on in Cairo's alleyways
A mural depicting Egyptian novelist and nobel prize winner Naguib Mahfouz is pictured behind the al-Azhar mosque in downtown Cairo on November 26, 2019. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

And he was nearly killed for doing so. In 1994, a knifeman stabbed him in the neck in an assassination attempt. 

The attacker had been acting on a fatwa or religious edict issued by radical Egyptian-American imam Omar Abdel-Rahman, denouncing what he deemed to be the prodigious author’s blasphemous prose.

About Cairo with love –

Mahfouz’s daughter Om Kalthoum said he was so deeply enmeshed in the chaotic energy of Cairo that the city itself was a major character in his work.

The writer’s routine included walks along the corniche by the Nile to his favourite cafes near Tahrir Square, epicentre of the 2011 revolution, and to cultural salons.

“He wrote about Cairo with true love. He described it in granular detail. Even if he criticised it, it was still full of love,” she told the media.

She and her sister accepted their father’s 1988 Nobel Prize on his behalf because of his inability to travel due to his deteriorating eyesight.

Om Kalthoum said: “I remember sometimes we used to go to Al-Hussein (the area around the Al-Hussein mosque in the heart of Islamic Cairo) and we’d sit in the cafe bearing his name,” the Naguib Mahfouz Cafe.

“He showed us Midaq Alley — it was pretty much the size of a small room — and he would tell us great stories about his days as a schoolchild,” she recalled.

‘Midaq Alley’ was one of his most widely read books globally and was adapted into a 1995 film starring Salma Hayek.

The site of the museum dedicated to him is in a beautifully restored Ottoman guesthouse in Islamic Cairo dating to 1774 and was chosen because he spent his early years there.

Nobel winner Mahfouz lives on in Cairo's alleyways
A picture taken on November 7, 2019 shows the nobel prize certificate of Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz displayed at his museum at al-Azhar district in the heart of the capital Cairo. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP)

In the Al-Gamaleya neighbourhood the budding writer was surrounded by 10th century walls and a myriad of hiding spots for curious kids.

Om Kalthoum noted that being raised there left an indelible mark on her father’s imagination.

Mahfouz’s precious belongings including his mahogany desk, honours such as his Nobel certificate and even his last pack of cigarettes are among the items displayed in an exhibition that covers three floors. 

A universal writer –

Roger Allen, emeritus professor at Penn University in the United States and a prolific translator of Arab writers but especially Mahfouz, told reporters the author was monumental “in the development of Egyptian fiction”.

His writings delved into “ancient Egypt, Sufism, and politics”, Allen said.

“You get glimpses of his many interests. He was working on multiple tracks throughout his career.”

Allen translated a collection of his writings into English this year in a work entitled ‘The Quarter’.

The collection “reflects what a Cairene quarter looks like” — much like where the museum dedicated to him is located now.

It is also “a heavily symbolic entity associated with humanity”, Allen added.

“His works take on universal themes that show how to organise society and how it can be disrupted by forces,” he said.

The new collection is based on a pile of papers that his daughter found years after his death. It was organised and originally published in Arabic by Mohammed Shoair, an editor with the culture journal Akhbar Al-Adab.

Shoair said that “in the years before winning the Nobel, he lost his eyesight so his relationship with reality was almost severed. Writing for him became an obsession.”

Shoair has been archiving Mahfouz’s papers with Om Kalthoum’s help for a multi-volume biography.

He talked about Mahfouz’s pioneering role in revolutionising the Arab novel to the extent that many Arab authors now follow in his footsteps.

Alaa al-Aswany from Egypt, Ahmed Saadawi from Iraq and Algeria’s Ahlam Mosteghanemi have all found a global readership with books that have won international awards.

“The main idea behind his work since the 80s was returning to his childhood… his beginnings and the alley,” Shoair said of Mahfouz.

“He was talking about his personal life in a way, but through the memories of the past”.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: Click to email us
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Art

UNESCO adds Morroco’s Gnawa culture to list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Published

on

UNESCO adds Morroco’s Gnawa culture to list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
(Photo credit: multiculturalkidblogs.com)

Gnawa culture, a centuries-old Moroccan practice rooted in music, African rituals and Sufi traditions, has been added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

UNESCO announced this via its Twitter account, on Thursday, December 12, 2019.

Gnawa refers to a “set of musical productions, fraternal practices and therapeutic rituals where the secular mixes with the sacred”, according to the nomination submitted by Morocco.

Often dressed in colourful outfits, Gnawa musicians play the guenbri, a type of lute with three strings, accompanied by steel castanets called krakebs.

They practice “a therapeutic ritual of possession… which takes the form of all-night ceremonies of rhythms and trance combining ancestral African practices, Arab-Muslim influences and native Berber cultural performances. The tradition, which includes the veneration of Islamic holy men, dates back to at least the 16th century.

Originally practised and transmitted by groups and individuals from slavery and the slave trade”, today it is one of the many facets of Moroccan culture and identity.

Gnawa was popularised by a festival that started in 1997 in the southern port city of Essaouira. 

Until then, Gnawa brotherhoods had been little known, even marginalised.

Now, they attract waves of fans each year from across the globe to the Gnawa and World Music Festival in Essaouira that highlights a unique mix of musical styles. 

Gnawa groups “form associations and organise festivals” year-round, which enable the younger generation “to have knowledge of both the lyrics and musical instruments as well as practices and rituals” linked to Gnawa culture.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: Click to email us
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Art

Millions of fans thrilled with Cardi B’s Africa tour

Published

on

Cardi B attends the Swisher Sweets Awards Cardi B With The 2019 "Spark Award" at The London West Hollywood in West Hollywood, Calif.(Photo by Billboard: Leon Bennett/FilmMagic)

It was all buzzing in Lagos and Accra during the weekend as Cardi B visited. 

Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar, popularly known as Cardi B was on a 2-nation African tour from Friday 5 December to Sunday 8 December.  She performed in Nigeria on Saturday and in Ghana on Sunday. 

There is no doubt the Grammy-Award winning rapper enjoyed every bit of her time in the 2 West African countries. She kept millions of fans all over the world thrilled with her energetic activities which she regularly updated via her social media posts.

In Nigeria, the 27-year-old’s performance went down on Saturday night at the Livespot Festival, held at the Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.

Performing alongside Cardi B at the festival was Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage, Teni, Patoranking, Joe Boy, Niniola and a host of other Nigerian artistes.

The beautiful rapper dressed in Nigeria’s national colours from hair to toe, to deliver an electrifying performance to the delight of her teeming Nigerian fans. 

She performed some of her hit songs like ‘I like It That’, ‘Girls Like You’, ‘Bodak Yellow’, ‘Money’ among others.

The Chief Creative Director of Livespot36 – the organizers of the festival, Dare Art Alade, while speaking at the largely-attended festival said:

“We know how much love the fans have for Cardi B and this was one of the reasons we chose to give fans a special experience to see the queen of hip-hop live in Lagos. However, we also are aware of the massive appeal of some of our Nigerian music acts. The show will definitely have been incomplete without these music stars, and this is why we all had a great time at Live Spot Festival”.

Cardi B who was quickly nicknamed Chioma B in Nigeria did not just come to Nigeria to perform and leave with her paycheck. She showed massive love for the country and her beautiful people. She visited motherless babies’ home with several gifts.  

She also had a swell time clubbing in some of the famous clubs in Lagos. At one of the clubs, she reportedly splashed a whooping 3 million naira. 

Nigerians do not waste time in returning any love shown to them. The comely rapper genuinely showed her love for Africa and this easily gained her endearment from millions.

Cardi B left Nigeria on Sunday to Ghana where she was received with equal love and energy. 

However, some Ghanian celebrities had earlier complained that they were snubbed by Cardi B when they came to her hotel to have a ‘Meet & Greet’ with her and she did not show up but she later cleared the air on what happened, saying she was not informed about the meeting and immediately promised to meet the guest celebrities.

She is expected to return to the United States on Monday.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: Click to email us
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Art

Nigeria’s Chimamanda Adichie receives UN Global Leadership Award

Adichie is the youngest African and only Nigerian to have received the award

Published

on

Nigeria's Chimamanda Adichie receives UN Global Leadership Award
Photo credit: [Instagram/ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie]

Multiple-award-winning Nigerian Writer and Feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been awarded with the prestigious UN Global Leadership Award by the United Nations, making her the youngest African and only Nigerian to have received the award.

Adichie was recognized for her work in Literature – most notably, her talent for using storytelling to connect with people across generations and cultures on issues related to gender, identity, racial inequality as well as for being a leader on the frontlines of global progress.

This landmark achievement comes just after Adichie’s famous novel, “Half of a Yellow Sun” was named in BBC’s 100 Novels that shaped our world.

The 2019 edition of the annual award, tagged; “We the people to honour the founding ideals and vision articulated in the UN Charter” held on the eve of the United Nations 75th anniversary.

Adichie joins the league of notable figures that have received the award in the past, which include former Presidents of America, President Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan.

Elated Adichie took to her Instagram account to announce the award.

Also honoured at the ceremony were Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former President of Ireland, Gunhild Stordalen, Chair of the Stordalen Foundation and Founder of EAT, UN staff members who have worked on the frontlines of crisis response, amongst others.

Copyright News Central

All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

Tell your story the right way

Have you witnessed a news worthy event? Want to become our citizen journalist and tell your own stories?

Send your stories to us or contact us via:
Email: Click to email us
Social media: Twitter and Facebook @NewsCentralTV
WhatsApp: Text or call +234 901 190 0000 .

New stories delivered to your phone

Click here to have news stories delivered to your phone or mail. You can also share your stories with us. Join our mailing list here.

Continue Reading

Trending