Al-Ahram Weekly Online
7 - 13 June 2001
Issue No.537
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875 Current issue | Previous issue | Site map

Obituary

Bahgat Osman, 1931-2001

BahgatWhen death strikes someone as fun-loving as cartoonist Bahgat Osman the news is often received with a degree of incredulity before it eventually sinks in and sadness takes over. Many were aware of the fact that Bahgat was seriously ill with cancer and that he had been badly shaken by the death of his wife, Badr, few months ago, but they continued to hope that one day he would rise, miraculously cured, to regale his admirers once more with his wit.

Though Bahgat attained celebrity as a result of the great appeal his political cartoons held for the Egyptian public -- with a few strokes of his pen he had the knack of giving voice to the opinions of the normally silent majority -- his earliest ventures were hardly successful. Indeed, following his graduation from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1954, the only position he could find was that of art instructor at a private school of Mansoura.

Bahgat photo: Randa Shaath


It was during this period that he offered his first caricatures to Dar El-Hilal. They were promptly rejected. He then took them to Rose El-Youssef where they were as promptly accepted in the belief that, in the words of Rose's editor-in-chief Ihsan Abdel-Quddous, "if they were refused by Dar El-Hilal, then they must be very good," .

For the next few years Bahgat continued teaching in Mansoura, completing cartoons for Rose El-Youssef at night. Then, in 1957, when Khaled Mohieddin established Al-Messa, a newspaper with leftist leanings, Bahgat was hired as one of the two caricaturists working full-time for the publication. He remained at the paper until 1959, when he returned to Rose El-Youssef to join the team of artists who contributed so much to the fame of the weekly magazine Sabah El-Kheir. In 1964 Bahgat was hired by Al-Musawwar. For much of the 1970s, finding himslef at loggerheads with Anwar El-Sadat's regime, Bahgat lived in Kuwait, only returning to Egypt in the early 1980s when he joined the opposition newspaper Al-Ahali.

Bahgat published several collections of caricatures, the most famous being Hokouma wa Ahali.

Bahgat Osman died in Cairo on 3 June. He is survived by two sons, Hisham and Walid.

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