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Several of my articles on Garden City were plagiarized word for word by novelist MEKKAWI SAID (winner of the Egyptian State price for literature!!!!) and re-published under his own name in a three-part series in El-Masry El-Youm daily in September 2015.

Cheers to our "talented" literature prize awardee. Your pain his gain !!!


by Samir Raafat
Cairo Times, 8 July 1999

Saad Zaghloul Memorial

Saad Zaghloul Memorial western facade

Main entrance to memorial
Different views of memorial

Zagloul's house in back of memorial
Saad Zaghloul's house seen in back of memorial

My 'Landmarks' column this week is dedicated to the neglected mausoleum of Saad Zaghloul Pasha, that great 20th century Egyptian nationalist who against all odds led Egypt down the path of independence.

Yet, when I think Zaghloul I recall Shakespeare's quote "If his name is George, I'll call him Peter, for new-made honor doth forget man's name."

Not too difficult to confuse man with the Almighty in a region where self-made Gods were invented millenniums ago. So strong and so long has Pharaoh's cult been around that leader-worshiping is part of our genetic barcode. And despite ALL claims to the contrary by our incumbent leaders who prefer to think they are loved by their subjects, rather than feared, this time-honored practice simply won't go away.

Yet Saad Zaghloul was indeed worshipped by his people. Election results and everything else at the time said as much. Not only was his picture a regular staple in the pro-government press, but almost every headline started with his name. Television still in the never-never and radio a novel gimmick, admirers opted for life-size, all-size, any-size portraits of Egypt's fiery premier.

As a sign of veneration Zaghloul's photos were on display in coffeeshops, bars, schools and street corners. And if Zaghloul was regarded the Father of the Nation, his wife, Safeyah Hanem, was Um El Masreyeen (Mother of the Egyptians). They were the uncrowned first family of Egypt.

Yes, some things never change!

When Zaghloul died suddenly and successor-less in the summer of 1927 the nation slipped into a coma of heretofore-unknown proportions. Only a gigantic public send-off--a funeral worthy of the greatest of Pharaohs: Rameses, Tuhutmose, Cheops, Chefren, take your pick, could bring the country back to the living.

And because the fatherless nation couldn't, and didn't want, to believe its spiritual guide, mentor and confessor had unexpectedly abandoned it, it decided to immortalize Him.

Two giant statues of Zaghloul were commissioned one each for Cairo and Alexandria. Likewise, the biggest, most impressive mausoleum since the days of the pyramids was tabled for construction in memory of the great leader. An edifice so sacred it would resemble an Ancient Egyptian tabernacle.

Yes, Pharaoh's cult was alive and well in the valley of the Nile.

In order to have the appropriate space for the mausoleum the government purchased three houses situated on a 3,000 square meters lot bordering Falaki Street and opposite Beit al Umma (House of the Nation) as Zaghloul's house had come to be called.

Work on the tabernacle could now begin.

Saad Zaghloul draft Memorial
one of many suggested mausoleums

But with the passing of time and the fading of yesterday's God, the bickering began. Zaghloul's anticipated commemoration had become a sore issue among Egypt's competing political factions each one of them ruled by a mini-God.

And while the Zaghloul-created Wafd Party bulldozed ahead with its grandiose post-mortem schemes, the opposition kept calling for something more modest. Nevertheless, in January 1931, the Wafdist ministry of public works generously supplemented the collected public funds with an additional LE 50,000 so that the mausoleum's construction could begin. Only the best Aswan red granite stone was acceptable.

But by the time the mausoleum was completed 11 months later, the new ardent anti-Wafd Prime Minister Ismail Sidki Pasha decided the mausoleum would not be Zaghoul's alone. Instead, it would become a national pantheon, a final resting place for Egypt's Greats, himself included when the time came.

Understandably, the Wafd outcry resultant was heard across the nation. Especially by those who still remembered the Great Leader.

In a tearful communication to Sidki Pasha, Madame Zaghloul stated that if Sidki's government insisted on its proposal, she would not release the mortal remains of her husband temporarily buried in the family graveyard.

Ignoring the Wafd and Um al-Masreyeen's protests, the royal remains of Egypt's ancient kings and queens were transferred from the Egyptian Museum to the neoteric pharaonic mausoleum.

Ironically, a few years earlier, these same royals had been withdrawn from public exhibition on the grounds of dignity. The royal collection of mummies included a pharaoh from the 17th dynasty; nine kings and Queen Nefertari from the 18th dynasty; five kings from the 19th plus four Rameses from the 20th; and five queens from the 21st. The announced reason for their withdrawal? It was unbecoming to publicly display the remains of past monarchs! Now they were within site of the entire nation.

Back in power in April 1936 following the enthronement of the 17-year old King Farouk, the Wafdist led government proceeded to embellish the mausoleum-turned-pantheon on Falaki Street. For one thing, the walls were entirely lined with granite costing the taxpayer an additional LE 30,000.

On 19 June 1936, coinciding with the 9th anniversary of the death of Saad Zaghloul, the Pasha's mortal remains were exhumed from the family vault in Imam al-Shafei and placed in a coffin atop a gun-drawn carriage. These were then transferred to Falaki Street led by 15,000 blue-shirted Wafdist youths. As anticipated (some say orchestrated by the Wafd leaders), the cortege quickly turned into public demonstration as mourners, ulemas (religious leaders) and university students joined the fray.

And while no one noticed or seemed to care, the 24 royal mummies were bundled out of the previously sacred pantheon and hustled across Cairo to a temporary location near the modern day Heliopolis. There they would rest in anonymity until such time when the Egyptian Museum could have them back.

This was Saad Zaghloul's day and no one -dead or alive--was allowed to compete, for the time being at least.

On 17 December 1931, Mahtama Ghandi laid a wreath at Saad Zaghloul's tomb before its subsequent reburial in the mausoleum.

articles posted on were published in the following books by Samir W Raafat: THE EGYPTIAN BOURSE, Zeitouna, Cairo -- CAIRO THE GLORY YEARS, Harpocrates, Alexandria -- HISTORY & SOCIETY IN A CAIRO SUBURB; MAADI 1904-1962, Palm Press, Cairo -- PRIVILEGED FOR THREE CENTURIES, printed digitally and bound by Elias Printing, Egypt

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