Volume 1, Issues 2
September 1998

"Rooba'iyat Salah


Poetry by Salah Jaheen (written in Arabic)

Published by (Al-Ahram) in Egypt



Cover by: George Bahgoory (Paris)

Jaheen was drawn to art from a very early age, drawing what his eyes and mind captured on paper. He also began to write rhymes during his school years where his talents blossomed. Jaheen excelled at an amazing rate, achieving top status and reaching prestigious ranks in the Egyptian journalism industry at a young age. In his long and fruitful career, Salah Jaheen was multi-talented, with many articles, cartoons, poems, books, plays, movies, and acting roles to his name. He also wrote many successful television programs from which Jaheen's skills surfaced.

The instrumental Egyptian artist died a pioneer in every account. He started his career in Rosa El-Youssif weekly magazine founded by Mrs. Fatma El-Yousif in 1952 and became one of the founders of the weekly magazine Sabah El Kheir "Good Morning" in 1956 with a group of renowned writers, artists and cartoonists including, Mr. Ihsan Abdul Kodoos, Ahmed Baha' El-Din, Hasan Fouad, Kamel Zoheiry, Mohammed Ouda, Louis Grace, Zohdy, Mofeed Fawzy, Raaouf Tawfik, Nagah Omar, etc. In 1964, he joined Egypt's national newspaper Al-Ahram daily (circulation 3 million copies per day in Arabic, English and French) where he published his daily contribution and his immensely popular Roba'iyat (4 line poetry) with his daily signitured caricature. After his death in April 1986, Al-Ahram publishers released a compilation of 159 texts of his short poetry, known as "Rooba'iyat" or four-line poems.

Jaheen was a prolific writer by all means, producing some of the most poetically ingenious Arabic works written in modern-day. Much of his poems and writings have been sung by the Arab world's most prominent singers and entertainers including the immensely popular Abdelhalim Hafez. One of Jaheen's most famous writings is a poem he wrote for and dedicated to the late American President John F. Kennedy following his assassination in 1963.

In this issue of our book review, we have selected 19 of Jaheen's popular four-line poems, each representing an emotion, a virtue, aspiration, hope, celebration and dream. Like many of his literary works, the sample "Rooba'iyat" we've included here are written in a colloquial Egyptian dialect which made Jaheen immensely popular across Egyptian society. Much of his artwork and poetry reflects his deep love for the Nile, the land, its people, their culture, values and glorious civilization. The intimacy and simplicity in his style brought his writings closer to the vast and diverse Arab-speaking world with all of its religious denominations, ethnic backgrounds, and political affiliations. Even those who didn't speak his native language he communicated with through his animated and lively cartoons and caricatures.

Jaheen's career coincided with very turbulent times in Middle Eastern and world history. At a time when the world was split into two battling blocs; a capitalist and communist camp, Jaheen saw a third world bloc representing the many developing countries striving to stay on pace with the rest of the world. For this reason, he dedicated his life and works to advocate what is good for all humans. Jaheen wrote of love, peace, prosperity, competition, cooperation and struggle. He considered the pen a sword with which he fought for people's freedoms worldwide. He felt it was a duty for him to speak for the basic human right of people in the developing world. Despite being a very gentle man by nature, with a pen in hand, Jaheen was an armed fighter.

Jaheen's characterized and recognized himself as an Egyptian, Arab, African, Middle Eastern and Third World artist and philosopher. Jaheen is like a coin, with two faces: a drawing on one side and text on the other. A face representing his literary works and the other his innovative and creative cartoons.

The Ambassadors invites Mr. Nagi, the famous cartoonist and Salah Gaheen's successor in Al-Ahram newspaper to present models of his caricatures with his comments. We also wish to invite Gaheen's colleagues: Tooghan (Al-Gomhoriyah newspaper), Mostafa Hussein (Al-Akhbar newspaper), Ihab Shakir (Sabah El-Kheir weekly magazine),George Bahgoory (Paris), and Ragaie (Australia) to send their contribution.

By Dr. Talaat I. Farag

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