March 11, 2005

Presidential Candidates

One of my favorites Egyptian writers is Ahmed Ragab. He is one of the most, if not the most, sarcastic writers. He has created several imaginary characters that represent different classes of the Egyptian society. His ideas and works used to be portrayed by the cartoonist Mostafa Hussein. Now, he is using the help of another cartoonist Amr Fahmi.

It is so difficult to explain the content of this cartoon as a lot of it comes from the daily life of the Egyptians. However, I will take the challenge of bridging cultures and I will try to explain this cartoon for non-Egyptians.

The main character in this cartoon is a peasant from a village called Kafr El Hanadwa. He represents the masses of poor and simple Egyptians. There is no such town or village named Kafr El Hanadwa in Egypt. But the name infers that the village is a village of naïf peasants that would believe anything that would be told to them.

The peasant has been on Al Akhbar Al Youm weekly newspaper for at least a decade. He has been a critic of all the Prime Ministers starting from the late Dr. Atef Sidki. He is now talking to the recently appointed (and quite tall) Prime Minister Dr. Ahmed Nazif. He is conveying to Dr. Nazif the reaction of people in his village on the recently proposed constitutional amendment (the amendment that would allow several candidates to contest the current incumbent Mr. Mubarak).

“There is no talk in the village now except the presidential elections. Mussa Effendi*, the clerk of the grains warehouse, announced that he can fix the situation in Egypt in 11 days. But El Manashiri has challenged him. He said that Mussa Effendi is a liar and that the situation in Egypt needs 13 days to be fixed not 11 as he claims. As for the mother of Za’aboula** went over to Abel Radi Beih* residence asking him for a reference letter for her son Za’aboula to be president. She came out shouting ‘no one wants to help anyone anymore’! As for the dude called Abou El Yazid, he was walking down the streets of the village waving his hands to people (as if he was already the president). They took him away to the mental hospital! May God keep people insane! And may God give us prosperity”

*Effendi and Beih are titles that were used before 1952 to refer to the class of the person. Beih was a higher rank than Effendi while Pasha was the highest ranking. They are no longer officially used but people still use them in their day to day language.
** In the country side, it is normal for woman to be called as the mother of their first male offspring.

The punch line is that simple people believe that they can actually run for president. Some of them even went to the extent of believing that they are already the president. But they are simply being fooled as the barriers to approve the candidacy are going to be very tough! Posted by Hello


Anonymous said...

I beg you please translate these ridiculous cartoons for me everyday.... you have no idea how badly I want to understand them!

Orientalism said...

Ahmad Ragab rules, too bad we cant have him as president :)