Beautiful Radwa; Alive in the Collective Popular Memory

Beautiful Radwa,

Was she bidding farewell to her family & friends when she wrote “Heavier than Radwa”?

Is she gone?

Is the woman, who declared her belonging to the ant family/ to the drowning-Straw party/ to the stubbornness party, gone? Is the woman who has never accepted defeat gone?

*****

She never pretended to be anything other than herself. She was never a hypocrite, nor did she ever chase a false fame or a vanishing power. With a sweet smile, she always welcomed her family, friends, students & the companions of her journey of struggle and resistance. She was a high-principled person. Sharp like a sword; she fought through intellectual, cultural & political battles, confronting hypocrites, corruption and normalization with the enemy, not caring about the consequences.

She was sincere to her perception of humanism from the beginning of her life; when she selected her lifelong companion, when she chose her literary, political & humanitarian path and when she adopted a simple yet beautiful lifestyle.

She devoted herself to the Nile Delta and to the love of a tired Palestinian man; her lifelong companion who said:

“Tired I am Oh Radwa … O Beautiful face vowed to the Nile Delta and to the Love of a tired Palestine; …” Mourid Barghouthi

Radwa left a rich heritage and a priceless treasure to Palestine, Egypt and to the rebels across the world. She was devoted to literature, politics and life. Being an academic, she combined a number knowledge fields as a novelist, literary critic and a political activist. She published 8, eight novels, two groups of short stories and two autobiographies in addition to a number of critic studies that shared a common line; bias to the hard-working laborers & the unlimited trust of their potentials … standing for the human, creativity, the active/partner woman and rebellion against all types of oppression, injustice and corruption.

Radwa was born two years prior to “Nakaba” and graduated from the University during the 1967 war. “I had lived my whole life between 2 brackets of war … or let’s say it is a lifetime that was created for the awareness of injustice, disability and war. Yes, Palestine was the major cause in my experience, which has reformed my consciousness. Palestine is my cause and it means to me as much as it does to the other Egyptian intellectuals. My first book, that I had finished before I reached 30 years old, was about Ghassan Kanafani's literature "The way to the other tent", I partially addressed the Palestinian issue in my novel "Specters" and also in my novel "A Piece of Europe" but when I started writing " The woman from Tantoura" I realized that I am writing my Palestinian novel.” Radwa Ashour.

Dr. Radwa Ashour wasn’t just satisfied with speaking her mind within the academic and literary circles, she was engaged in the national and political activism through her membership in the  “National Culture Defense Committee”, co-founding  the “National Committee Against Zionism in Egyptian Universities” and also through co-founding “The March 9 Movement for the University Independence” that  works for the independence of Egyptian Universities.

*****

Through her prolific encyclopedic knowledge, Radaw mixed history, literature, politics and art. She left a unique & creative heritage that craved her distinguished status in the Arabic Humanitarian literature.

Through her humble, loving and honest personality, she carved her place in the hearts of the Palestinians, Arabs and all freedom fighters across the world.

*****

The memories travel back to a beautiful time in Cairo, since 1979 till 1998, during which I was blessed with strong Palestinian and Egyptian friendships where the Palestinian and Arabian concerns blended, overlapped and embraced. Therefore, the dream of freedom glowed on the private and public levels and we shared the dream, the effort and the tireless struggle for the sake of the political, social and cultural change.

 Warm and sad her voice came to my ears, on September 11, 1996, when she informed me about the death of her godmother Dr. Latifa Al-Zayyat. She said: “The condolences gathering will be held at … You know how much she loved Palestine … I'll be waiting for you there.”

How wouldn’t I recognize Palestine’s place in Dr. Latifa Al-Zayyat’s heart? Dr. Latifa was a great pioneer writer, literary critic and a high-principled activist. She was the founder and president of the “Committee for the Defense of National Culture” which was formed after the Camp David accords to oppose all forms of normalization with Israel. A whole generation of freedom fighters, including myself, grew up on her intellectual, humanitarian and literary heritage.

Today on the 30th of November 2014, knowing Palestine’s position in Radwa’s heart and that we still have so much to accomplish on the road of freedom, social justice and fight against corruption and injustice, we will miss your glamour, presence and “more of” your production.

Should we offer condolences to ourselves? Should we offer condolences to our friend Murid? Beloved Tamim?

On the other hand, shall we offer condolences to the progressive humanitarian thought?

 Faihaab@gmail.com

www.faihaab.com

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