Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lecture by professor N'Dri Assié-Lumumba: "Higher Education And African Development Since The 1960s"

By Hannah Altmann, Haneen Abdel Maksoud and Passant El Gayar

Cairo, Egypt – Professor N’Dri Assié-Lumumba of the African and Diaspora education at Cornell University in New York, held a lecture titled “Higher Education And African Development Since The 1960s: Global-Local Dynamics” on Sunday, April 27th in Mansour Hall at The American University in Cairo (AUC). 

The lecture focused on the development of higher education since the 1960s in Africa.
“Education is a universal need,” states Assié-Lumumba, as she starts off the lecture and continues to say, “it has a particular connection with human advancement and social progress.”

When speaking of education, we have to look at the historical context. As the African-American historian, John Henrik Clarke had once said “the role of history is to tell a people what they have been and where they have been, what they are and where they are.”

After the creation of UNESCO in 1948, education was considered a human right; it gave the right for everybody to receive education and gave the states the responsibility to provide a framework for education (Assié-Lumumba). Prior to the creation of UNESCO, parts of Africa were still under colonial rule. Some countries didn’t receive education by their colonizers and those who did, by law had a limited amount of years of education they couldn’t exceed. However, Africans were eager to have access to education. The United Nations (UN) came to have similar views as them and the 1960’s was declared year of educational of development. Nevertheless, some African countries were still under colonial influence after their independence.

The lecturer continued to say that contrary to the UN’s belief, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decided that higher education was not necessary in Africa, after the 1970s oil crisis. It was consuming too much money, and was not operating, as it should, according to the standards of the IMF and the World Bank. Therefore they refused to further invest in higher education in Africa and shifted their attention to basic education.

The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aim to improve Africa by 2015. These goals include eradicating poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promote gender equality, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development. Assié-Lumumba points out that: ” if you want to succeed, you can’t miss out on any of these eight points” because as the Human Capital Theory suggests, there is a linear and positive correlation between education and development. An attendee of the lecture by the name of Ahmed Alaa said that "I found the lecture interesting because it made me understand why Africa is so behind in terms of education and development."

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Photo Slideshow: Sham El Nessim Gathering

Produced by Hania Elkady

My theme narrates my personal Egyptian family tradition during the national holiday of Sham El-Nessim that takes place at the beginning of the spring which always falls on the day after the Eastern Christian Easter, yet shared and celebrated by all Egyptians alike.

As a family, we are always invited to my grandparents' house to celebrate this occasion together. As they have always taken care of the responsibility of buying the salted fish "feeskh" and Herrings fish altogether with onions, salad and Tuna fish. Actually, their long-lived housekeeper takes care of that process; beginning with buying the fish from the market, cleaning it and preparing the table and definitely, takes care of the smell afterwards. Normally, my aunt would be invited as well, but she was travelling this time. So, it was just my family consisted of my mother, younger sister and older brother in addition to myself, or the photographer in this case.

The funny thing about this Sham El Nessim; that the older generations like my grandparents are the ones who enjoy this occasion the most, while the younger generations like my siblings and cousins who hated the smell and ate pizzas or something else. So, I never thought about that before when I used to eat with them, I just realized that when I played the photographer role.

Photo Slideshow: The Chocolate Devil Cake

Produced by Sarah Hassan
Hello there chocolate lovers! Finally the weekend is here to bake my father's favorite dessert dish; chocolate cake covered up all over with chocolate frosting, namely, The Chocolate Devil Cake.

I've always loved to bake this cake ever since my grandma taught me when I was a kid. Its chocolate temptation makes you just want to keep eating it. So I decided to share my grandma's recipe with you!

Photo Essay: The Unique Abaza Lentils Dish

Produced by Nora Elbadawy

     Long time ago my mother family ‘Abaza’ created their own dish of lentils, which no one can make expect them so they called it ‘The Abaza Lentils’. There are different stories that circulate around the family about the history of this unique dish. As the Abaza family is formerly originated in Abkhazia, which is a small country next to Russia; it is said that back in time a member of the family created a new recipe using lentils to keep them warm and energetic during the cold winter, and called this dish “the Abaza lentils.” And since then this recipe is kept secretive between the family members and passed on from generation to another. Even after the family migrated to different countries the Abaza lentils recipe kept closely guarded and never changed. Another story about this dish’s history, also known within the family is that long ago when the Abazas came to Egypt they where located in Sharqia governate; and one day an Abaza men unexpectedly invited guests over for lunch and the wife was not prepared so she decided to put all –food- available together and at the end she created the Abaza lentils, which afterward became famous among the family.  As growing up the Abaza lentils was the main dish that is always severed in almost all family gatherings – in different family members' homes .- Every women in the Abaza family knows and should know how to do this dish. That’s why my grandmother taught my mother the recipe and my mother decided to pass it on to my sister and I. This dish is unique because it is only known among my family and no one can make it perfectly as my family members.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Photo Essay: Aspiring Simplicity

Produced by Karima Ragab

I knew I was travelling to Basata during spring break so I definitely wanted to find my story there because I knew I could easily get inspired there. It is only when I got there that I decided to base my photo essay on the story of Basata. With the owner, Sherif Ghamrawy, present all day long, I was able to contact him easily. It was my first time to travel to Basata so I was fascinated by it. From what he told me, I was able to define my angle which was the exposure of Egypt’s culture and civilization in every domain possible. The culture was portrayed in the food, the setting, the ambiance, but above all, the delightful simplicity behind it all. When I told some of my friends and family that I was traveling to Basata, many didn’t know what I was talking about. Therefore, it pushed me to write its story and hopefully reveal its simple beauty to those who haven’t discovered it yet.

Photo Essay: The Glorious Moment of Katb El Kitab

By Youmna El Sherbiny

Katb el Kitab, the official marriage ceremony, is a tradition of the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, so that the couple doesn't find difficulties in interacting with one another but rather to be legally married. It is such a bittersweet occasion for the father of the bride as he feels that she will be someone else’s responsibility and will go away; yet, happy because she is starting a new life with her beloved.Although I am not married yet but this event relates to me very much as ever since I lost my father, I imagine how he would have felt on such a special day, particularly because we always had talks about such events and related ones. This event was one of the closest to my heart as it is the marriage of one of my dearest friends;Rana Ibrahim getting married to Mohamed Rashed.

Photo Essay: A Day by the Nile

By Haidy Abdrabou

I chose this topic for many reasons, from long time ago this is the first time as a family to relax and take time out from the hassle of life.

The story I decided to make has different variety of meanings. It is about memories, family tradition, and celebration.

When my father used to live with us, we used to go out as a family every week, but now it is difficult to keep this habit going. He has been away for several months for work, during that time he was having health problems regarding his heart, but in the end he ended up having a heart surgery.

Luckily, he is recovering now and feeling better everyday, and that makes me thankful to have him around in my life, this family outing was not only about mundane going out, it was our first time of us together celebrating both dad feeling well and Egyptian Easter.

Mainly, celebrating the joy of us being in each others company, one that cannot be taken for granted.

Photo Essay: Cooking Koshary, The Egyptian Tradition

Author: Alaa Adel Elsayed

     Koshary is one of the dishes that is invented entirely by Egyptians. Its history of invention is what makes it unique. Egyptians are said to collect all the remaining uncooked food ingredients at the end of every month and cook them all together. This historical story, in my opinion, has an economic value as well as a cultural and traditional value. Economically, the story highlights a way through which middle-class households sustain their living during the last days of every month when their monthly salary is over as the case with almost all working classes. It also served as an investment in what they have remaining instead of throwing it away in the trash.  The story of inventing koshary has also a strong cultural meaning as it shows how working-class Egyptians tended to handle their living when they are almost out of money at the end of each month. Additionally, it highlights some of the differences between social classes in Egypt. It would not be surprising for upper-class people to throw these ingredients away and not to care much about their possible uses. But the perceptions that the working classes have for things are always different, which is shown through the Egyptians’ investment that yielded in a new Egyptian dish.
     Although koshary was originally invented by middle-class Egyptians, it has gained huge popularity and become one of the favorite dishes for all Egyptians. In specific, it is one of my family’s favorites. It is a family tradition that my mother cooks koshary for special events, such as Eid al-Fatr and Sham El-Nassem (the spring day). Although it is common for Egyptians to eat a certain type of fish during this last feast, my family eats koshary, the tradition that has become a traditional celebration of Sham El-Nassem. Accordingly, this year my mother has decided to cook koshary for us as part of our celebration of this day.
    Furthermore, the process of cooking koshary is interesting to examine. It is one of the dishes that has many components used to decorate the final dish. Not only that, these decorative components are also to be cooked first as the cooking process starts before cooking the main ingredient which is rice.

    The presented slideshow shall illustrate more closely the process of cooking koshary for lunch for my family in celebration of Sham El-Nassem.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

"Basic Needs: Palestine Capitalists and the British Rule" by Sherene Seikaly

By: Rawan Lasheen, Eshraka Sumrain and Nourhan Rateb

Cairo, Egypt – On Wednesday, April 9, Sherene Seikaly, assistant professor of history and director of the Middle East Studies Center, gave a lecture critiquing the Palestinian economists and the Arab liberal project during the British colonial rule. Seikaly expressed at the start of the lecture that the topic lies at the heart of her new book, “Bare Needs: Palestinian Capitalism and British Colonial Rule.”  

The lecture took place at the Prince AlWaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Hall at The American University in Cairo, and generally explores how Palestinian capitalists and British Colonial officers used the economy in the 1930s and 1940s to shape notions of territory and nationalism in Palestine.

Seikaly started by shedding light on the Balfour Declaration, which she described as having “committed the British Government to fulfilling…to facilitating a Jewish national home in Palestine.” Seikaly expressed that it was odd how European Jews, who began settling in Palestine in the 1930s, are almost completely nonexistent in the Palestinian capitalist narratives. 

Her take on this narrative dissonance is that Palestinians at the time were occupied in separating the economy from the political arena by “trying to carve out the economy as a discrete sphere.” Herein lies Seikaly’s critique of the Palestinian Capitalists of the late 19th century. Seikaly went on to clarify that, ultimately in the 1940s, it became clear to them that this separation was virtually impossible. 

At the end of the lecture, Seikaly left 15 minutes to open the floor to questions. One attendee’s question appropriately served as a conclusion to the lecture. She asked whether it was at all possible to separate the economy from politics, referring to the Palestinian capitalist’s intent to do so during the 1930s. Seikaly argued that they tried to read politics ‘between the lines’ as the politics present at the time was one that embraced capitalism. She put forth an example where the Palestinian capitalists would say that they’d refuse to talk about the legislative council, for example, as they would leave that issue to the “men of politics.” However what they would talk about is how this legislative council would be good for the economy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

" A Margin for Democracy in Egypt" by Amr Hamzawy.

By: Nouredeen Ahmed, Salma Badawy and Yehia Shaalan.

Cairo, Egypt - Dr. Amr Hamzawy, professor of public policy administration at The American University in Cairo, AUC, held a lecture discussing his newly released book "A Margin for Democracy in Egypt" at Moataz Al Alfi Hall on Sunday, April 6. Taking part of this discussion was Dr. Ziad Bahaa Eldin, the former Deputy Prime Minister of Egypt. The lecture was in Arabic with availability of translation in English. A short introduction on Dr. Hamzawy's history of political affiliations was given before drawing the attention to his new book and discussing its aspects. Dr. Hamzawy started the lecture with an interesting question: "Where does Egypt stand now?” Following was an explanation of the key concepts of his new book and his vision on Egypt’s position and future. Dr. Ziad serving as a discussant for the lecture praised and criticized the book or Hamzawy’s writing style.
“Today Egypt finally sees a way for building a secure society,” says Dr. Hamzawy. He talked about how attempts have been by government and civil control to improve security regulations haven’t worked and many terrorist attacks and threats to the public are still continuing. He also talked about the problem of economic and financial delay that is ceasing the production of jobs and the developments of education.
“Amr is someone people like to differ with,” says Dr. Ziad. While maintaining his respect for Dr. Hamzawy’s opinion, Dr. Ziad offered his own regarding the developmental steps that Egypt should be taking today. He argued that political stability is needed before financial and economic developments can be made.
After Dr. Ziad spoke he left the floor for 10 minutes for the attendees to ask questions or pose comments. The questions were intriguing so much that Dr. Hamzawy suggested for an extra 15 minutes to be given for questions. A few questions were regarding Dr. Hamzawy’s book but most were about the future of Egypt, such as the question “where do you think Egypt will be in the next 30 years?” After writing down each question from the attendees on his Ipad, Dr. Hamzawy responded to most of them, addressing the people who asked them by name.