He was just a FREEMAN.. Stood tall as our living monument for COURAGE.. Not even the indignity of imprisonment or the agony of torture inside the wet prison cells for eighteen long years were able to take away his sound sense of FREEDOM; or strip off his protective armour: the pride of being born Egyptian, and his deep belief in divine justice.
Unlike his predecessors the grand masters of Dialect Poetry like Beyram El Tunsy and Salah Jaheen, or his coevals Ma’moun El Shennawy and Youssef Edris; he was entirely devoted and radically committed to issues like Freedom of Expression, Social Justice and Human Rights; just as much as he has never pronounced or wrote a word or a verse of hypocrisy in praise of any other human being.. The others did.
His master piece “AZZA” is the icon of a life long battle sustaining and preaching those noble issues.. One of the many poems he wrote in prison and was bravely smuggled out.. A poem that we exchanged clandestinely in school yards and on university benches after 1967, and publicly chanted it out in the streets during the ‘Students Riots’ of 1968.. If you can find it read it carefully to discover his cruel definitions for freedom and justice, along with the tender images originating from his root peasant life culture that forged his solid sense of belonging.
My generation will remember him as the domestic who became a postman who became the poet who became a prisoner to inspire hope and incite us to stand firmly for our hopes and resist peacefully awaiting a day of relief that will surely come.
Ahmad Fouad Negm died yesterday (December the 3rd) on 84 years of age, but his shouts for freedom, ideas on justice, inspirations to tolerance and teachings in courage will remain alive and dearly treasured in our conscience.
May Allah grant you his pardon and absolution by his infinite mercy.Pass On The Word.