1 - 7 July 1999
Issue No. 436
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
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Pack of CardsBy Madame Sosostris
* This week was marked by the sweeping victory of Ibrahim Nafie, chairman of the board of Al-Ahram Organisation and editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram,
in the elections of the Press Syndicate. This is the fifth time that Nafie will have been voted into the chairmanship of this prestigious institution. Apart from the usual praise and celebrations, two renowned artists closely connected to the Weekly have decided to express themselves in something more durable than words: Nagi has been experimenting with an entirely new technique akin to cubism in an attempt to sculpt a bust representing Nafie in deep thought, and Bahgory has produced a symbolic drawing bespeaking historical continuity. The bust is not finished yet, but Nafie said that upon completion it may be placed in the third Al-Ahram building, presently being constructed. As for Bahgory's sketch, I think that we at the Weekly will want to keep it as a memento of the day. The less talented among us are duly jealous of our artistically gifted friends, but can do no more, unfortunately, than extend our heart-felt congratulations to our fifth-time chairman.
* For a while now we have been witnessing a series of big achievements: Al-Ahram Centre for Translation and Publishing, headed by the dynamic Nawal El-Mahallawi and always at the forefront in the translation of important foreign works, has just published the Arabic edition of Boutros Ghali's latest book, which in its original version is titled (rather mysteriously, if you ask me) UNVANQUISHED. I must say I prefer the Arabic title, which is more poetic and means "years in a house of glass". I would not be a bit surprised if I were told that it is my good friend Nawal who decided on this interpretation. She is always so clever! Whatever the title, however, I am looking forward to going beyond the cover.
From top: Young blind girl of Al-Nour wal Amal in concert; Dimashkieh and Hamza at Café du Liban opening; Athar El-Hakim at the Renaissance company presentation of A Saidi at AUC; Boutros Ghali, UNVANQUISHED
* A brief ceremony will be organised by the Embassy of Venezuela on 5 July to commemorate Independence Day. Members of the diplomatic corps of the Bolivarian countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Equador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, which owe their independence to Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary who was born, as you well know, in the Venezuelan capital Caracas in 1783) will deposit a wreath at the foot of the statue of the South American liberator, set in the old square of Qasr Al-Dubara in Garden City which now bears his name. You will remember, of course, that my dear friend, the renowned urban planner Milad Hanna, was the first Arab recipient of the Simon Bolivar award in 1998. I know for a fact that I will be marching alongside Milad at this most august occasion.
* Last Sunday, my dear friend the Indian Ambassador Shiv Shankar Mukherjee delivered the keynote address at a symposium on India and Africa and the Indian Ocean Rim Basin at the African Society in Zamalek. The ambassador touched upon key issues such as the history of and the current political, economic and cultural roles played by the various ethnic Indian communities in eastern and southern Africa. Ambassador Mukherjee also talked about the newly formed economic and trade grouping based around the Indian Ocean, which includes several Asian and African countries, among them Australia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, and India. The symposium was convened under the auspices of the Pan-African Association, whose president is none other than our very own Gamal Nkrumah.
* Having given my all to serious matters this week, I could no longer stand the pressure and wanted to go to the Bahamas for the weekend, but since the price of such a little caper seems slightly beyond my means, I decided that a cheaper proposition would be to get away from it all at the new Mohamed Ali Club, where a bit of sunshine and a dip in Maged Farag's crowded pool would make up for the missed stint at a racy island resort. Maged was telling me the other day that we should stop referring to his club as the "new" Mohamed Ali, since the name was officially dropped by its original owner (the club, not the old wali, although towards the end of his life he is rumoured to have done even queerer things).
Maged was saying that since the original Mohamed Ali is now the Diplomats' Club, then his club can be the only Royal Mohamed Ali in town. Anyway, on the first Friday of each month, I shall be joining the throngs to enjoy "one fine day on the Nile" and partake in the royal splash.
* To celebrate its ninth year of activities, the Children's Culture section of the Culture Palaces, implementing the Reading for All Programme, has organised a day of reading at the Nour Wal Amal Society for the Blind in Heliopolis on the theme "blind children can read too". A number of celebrities read aloud extracts from the finest literature of great writers for blind children.
Top: Milad Hanna
Above: a day named ananas
* I don't really know how it came to pass, but the other day I received an invitation to attend a charity gala for the aged organised by the Egyptian Renaissance Company and the satellite TV channel Family and Child, headed by Nagwa Ibrahim. Though they were showing one of my favourite films, A Saidi at AUC , and though I saw the beautiful Athar El-Hakim among the many celebrities attending, I could not wait to put the question to Sherif Fanous, general manager of the Renaissance company: had I been invited for my artistic qualities, the fame of my name or my geriatric appearance? Sherif, who was very busy announcing all the discounts on the price of tickets that the company is planning, told me that he would explain later. I am still waiting.
* A most enjoyable evening was the big dinner reception held a few days ago at the Tropicana Gardens of the Nile Hilton to celebrate the opening of the new outdoor summer restaurant Café du Liban, which was inaugurated by His Excellency Hisham Damashkieh, the ambassador for Lebanon, in the presence of Hassan Hamza, general manager of Nile Hilton, and vice-president of Hilton International Africa and Egypt.
The opening of this new restaurant will certainly go a long way in reviving the tradition of dining outside during the hot months -- something I am all for, dears, provided someone takes care of the mosquitoes. Not even the convivial Lebanese atmosphere and delicious food prepared by Lebanese Chef Nader Kansoun would let me forget the buzzing little bloodsuckers, I can tell you. I am, however, seriously considering investing in a few cans of insect repellent as I have been promised not only the best shisha in town but live Lebanese entertainment and takht music every night until the wee hours of the morning, an offer I would have trouble resisting. I must say that the opening reception was so lively that I am looking forward to more of the same soon. The many guests and members of the Lebanese community had a great time.