Egypt restates African heritage, commitment to the continent
The Government of Egypt has restated its deep commitment to the continent of Africa, stressing that the country is a true African country, with its culture and heritage deeply rooted in the continent.
Press and Information Officer of the Embassy, Ahmed Maher, who spoke with journalists in Abuja last Sunday, stated that besides its geographical location as the gateway to the continent, Egypt has been deeply committed and involved in Africa since the far past. He stated that though the colour may be different from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Egypt views every country on the continent as its brothers.
“I no be oyibo. I am true African’, he said, trying to correct some misconceptions. He said the statement was a solemn declaration of a cultural character of Egypt as an African enclave irrespective of the racial outlook of the people of Egypt.
Maher explained that the Constitution of Egypt described it as a profound part of Africa and must work to realise the aspirations of the continention. He noted that this has been the motivation for its involvement with the rest of Africa, and it has been the motivation of the founding fathers of Egypt, who worked for the independence of the rest of Africa in collaboration with icons such as Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana, Nnamdi Azikiwe of Nigeria and many others.
Like the rest of Africa, Maher said Egypt is also a mix of cultures that emerged as a result of different civilizations and religious beliefs blending on its soil.
According to him: “This amazing blend of diverse backgrounds, especially between Coptic Christian culture and Islamic culture, all together define the current socio-cultural character of the Egyptian society. The geographical location also made Egypt a gateway to Africa. Moreover, the Nubian and Egyptian tribes have historical links going further south in Africa, both east and west’.
“Africa is reputed as the cradle of civilization and Egypt has stood as the bastion of that amiable civilization and remained resolute in strengthening the sense of solidarity among African peoples. Although Africa is diverse in the outlook of its peoples, languages, religions and cultures, Africans have found strength and dignity as one people bound by exceptional cultural and social linkages, in a quest to preserve their values and emancipate their entire people from foreign hegemony and historical injustice.”
While admonishing the entire continent of Africa to unite and strive for development, the diplomat said his country was involved in the formation of the Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), and through it, was involved in the liberation struggles of many other African countries.
“Egypt has stood as the defender of African people against the tide of colonialism and the humiliations of Western imperialism,” he said. “In the 1950s and 60s under the guardian leadership of the inimitable Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt manifested itself as a rallying point in the libration struggles of all African countries, which ensured that most African states are completely independent today.
“During his reign, most African countries were still wallowing under colonial rule. Therefore, Nasser’s position bestowed on him the rare responsibility as one of the few African leaders to chart the course of freedom. From that time, Nasser consolidated the values of the 1952 Revolution, mobilised other African leaders and pointed a way forward for freedom fighters, who emulated his passion and worked with his strategy.”
Apart from the deep involvement in Africa’s liberation struggle and Africa’s regional body, Maher said his country has also contributed immensely to the continent’s intellectual growth and political development.
Maher stated: “Contemporary African literature has inspired the works of Egyptian authors such as Ahmed Shawqi, Taha Hussein, Al-Aqqad, Al-Mazeni, Abdurahman Shukri, Najib Mahfouz among many others. The Al-Azhar University in Cairo is arguably the oldest (more than a thousand years) and the most prestigious centre of Islamic scholarship in the world. This institution’s contribution to contemporary Egyptian and Islamic world makes it an exciting citadel of knowledge, where numerous African scholars have gained immense knowledge.
“Egypt has also come under the influence of African art, which has enriched Egyptian music and movie industry. This industry has also produced a mixture of Nubian arts and literature and folklore. One name that speaks volumes about Egyptian arts is Mohamed Moneer, who has made masterful contribution to the genre of African music. The late Ahmed Zaki was one of Egypt’s talented actors featuring in several movies.”
Maher also noted Egypt’s involvement in sports on the continent, resulting in the country winning the African Cup of Nations seven times. It also won the continental cup three times consecutively in 2006, 2008 and 2010. These earned Egypt the reputation of being the highest winner of the African Cup of Nations.
As he noted, “Egyptian club sides have also been dominant at the club level completion. The indomitable Al Ahly of Cairo has conquered Africa many times, winning the African Club’s top-level competition known as the African Champions League a record seven times. Al Ahly is today the only club named as Africa’s Club of the Century by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).”
Maher concluded that Egypt is truly and deeply African.