The African Cup is just around the corner, and we’re all excited for it. With that being said, it’s important to actually embrace our African side along with it, since sadly, we seem to forget about it in Egypt.
Why Was the Issue of “Egyptians Looking Down on Africans” Re-Raised?
Just this Ramadan, social media turned upside down after two Egyptian actors showed racist attitudes towards Africans. These incidents revealed a segment of Egyptians who look down on other African cultures, ignoring the fact that we, too, are African.
Maged El Masry’s Episode on Sheikh El Hara
One of those actors was Maged El Masry who appeared on Basma Wahba‘s talk show “Sheikh El Hara”, sparking a fresh debate about how Egyptians perceive their fellow African neighbors.
The actor recounted a prank pulled by one of his friends saying, “I was excited to meet the pretty girls, but when they uncovered their faces and I discovered they are black/Africans, I kicked them out of the car immediately.”
In addition to this incident and due to various violations, Egypt’s Media Syndicate suspended the show and Wahba’s practice of media activity. The presenter also resigned from Al-Qahera w Al-Nas TV channel.
However, the incident highlighted the way a large number of Egyptians perceive Africans and opened deep discussions about our relations with Africans on a civilian level.
Shaimaa Seif and her Prank Show
El Masry was not the only Egyptian actor who raised controversy. Actress Shaimaa Seif was also accused of being offensive and racist in her prank show Shaklabaz, where she appeared in a micro-bus as a Sudanese woman (with her face and body painted in black) making a spectacle out of herself.
Comments from social media users and particularly the Sudanese community, criticized the actress and her program. Although Seif publicly apologized, it did not make things any better.
Check the link for more details: https://identity-mag.com/sudanese-are-offended-by-shaimaa-seifs-blackface-heres-why-you-should-too/
Other Points of View Regarding the Situation
Moving to the academic perspective, a professor at Cairo University, who preferred to remain anonymous, commented, “If you contemplate the situation of the African students granted scholarships in Egypt (or even the Africans who come to study on their own) and that of the other foreign students (for example from Europe or the US) you will be shocked.
“The comparison comes in favor of the non-Africans.”
Egyptian Ambassador Marwa Mamdouh Salem also once wondered in a seminar, “Why do Egyptians and Africans communicate in foreign languages?! Why don’t Egyptians start learning some of the numerous African languages for a better and deeper connection?!”
A Contradictory Situation
Prior to the controversy about both actors’ attitude that caught the scene, criticism was being directed towards a large number of Egyptians who feel proud of being Arabs and choose to neglect their African roots.
The paradox here is that on the political level, Egypt is positively working on enhancing its bilateral relations with the rest of the African countries, utilizing its presidency of the African Union this year and Aswan being the 2019 African Youth’s capital.
Egypt is also hosting a major sports event which is the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (bearing in mind that we are also criticized for somehow recognizing our Africa roots only when it comes to football championships.)
African Unity’s 56th Anniversary
Different spots across the African continent commemorated the Africa Day that marked the 56th anniversary of founding the Organization of African Unity.
At the Gezira Youth Center, and shortly after El Masry‘s problematic episode, the Ministry of Sports and Youth revived the occasion in a special way. Africans gathered and exhibited their traditional handicrafts, clothing, music, art and cuisine.
In addition to Egypt the host country, delegations from several African countries were rejoicing, including Kenya, Morocco, Somalia, and Algeria.
Would these Events Motivate Egyptians to Embrace their African Roots?
So will Egyptian youth be really motivated to open up and truly discover Africa, its rich cultures, and history? Will connection between Egyptians and Africans be stronger in the near future?
A more advanced hope, would Egyptians be interested in learning some of Africa’s wide range of languages for deeper communication? Would they be interested in studying in one of the African countries?
The way the Egyptian public as well as the media would utilize the abundant and ongoing events, could somehow determine the road we are taking.