A Ramadan Iftar to Remember

Enter in Peace and Safety

In celebration of Eid el-Fitr, the 3 day feast after 29 days of fasting, this post remembers a lovely Ramadan summer evening spent at the Demirdashiya el- Khalwatiya Sufi Order in Cairo. I do not profess to have knowledge about sufism. This post is intended to share an uplifting experience that was organized by Amir Abbas Helmi and the Friends of Manial Palace, an iftar (breaking of the fast) at the palace, mosque, and grounds of the Demirdashiya Sufi Order.

On the gate of the entrance, the plaque reads, Qasr (palace) Abdul Rahim Demerdash Pasha, donor of  Demerdash Charitable Hospital, for hospitalization of patients and the poor, 1928.

Iftar tables in the open portico next to the mosque that has door cells for meditation during a sufi gathering,  on lower and upper floors.

The Khalwatiya, a Sufi brotherhood (tariqa), came to Egypt during the Mamluk period. The Demirdash family was of Circassian Mamluk ancestry, arriving in Egypt with the name Taymmourtash around 1517. Muhammad el-Demirdash el-Mahmudi founded a Sufi order —al- Tariqa el-Demirdashiya—soon after the Ottoman took control of Egypt. The responsibility of continuing the order passed down from father to son, and Sheikh Abdul Rahim Demirdash Pasha  assumed the mantle from his father, Mustafa, at the age of twenty-four. The Sufi order was made up of prominent scholars and merchants, which, along with his considerable wealth, gave Abdul Rahim influence in parliament, where he served, in various positions, for nearly twenty years. In 1928 , he donated his property on Queen Nazli Street (now Ramsis Street) to build a charity institution, the Demirdash Hospital, now a part of Ain Shams University Hospital.

Cells for individual sufis in the background. The key element of Demirdash Khalwatiya  philosophy  is silent meditation.

A peaceful but active order is dedicated to inclusion of all religions, gender, and peoples. All are welcome to visit.

For those who would like a complete discussion of this the Demirdashiya al- Khalwatiya Order, read: Visionaries of Silence by Earle H. Waugh (AUC Press, 2007).

 

 

CAIRO AFLAME

P1000038

When the Flame Trees bloom, you can be sure it is heating up in Cairo! Between the last few weeks of May and early June, the streets light up in the brilliant glow of red from the Delonix regia tree. Though we need no reminder of summer heat in this part of the world, the glorious splash of red provides a welcomed relief. 

LAGOS STATE @ 50 May 27, 2017

My feet first touched Nigerian soil in 1972. Lagos State was a mere five years old. Eko Bridge (1975) had not yet been completed; the only bridge that connected the mainland (and Apapa where we lived) with Lagos Island was Carter Bridge.

Nigeria Magazine 1961, Carter Bridge

Of course, Lagos (Èkó in Yoruba) has a much longer history than 50 years, in fact, people have inhabited these islands for centuries. The actual founding of the area is lost; however, it is recorded that the first people to settle in the fifteenth century were known as Awori, a Yoruba subgroup.

Scan 13

Nigeria Magazine 1961

Lagos meaning ‘lakes’ named by the Portugese explorers around 1472, naming the Lago de Curamo. Lagos was first a port city originated on a collection of islands that are separated by creeks. Open to the Atlantic Ocean, it was protected by long sand bars, now completely urbanized. The islands consist of Victoria, Ikoyi and Lagos Islands are the network islands which are separated from the Mainland.

Before the creation of Lagos State on 27 May 1967, Lagos, which was the country’s capital. Eventually towns—Epe, Badagry, Agege, Ikeja, Ikorodu— from nearby regions were incorporated into Lagos State.

Nigeria Magazine 1961

Nigeria Magazine 1961

To celebrate Lagos State at 50, I am posting a series of articles (from my private collection) written in 1952, 1961, and 1969 for the Nigeria Magazine. Nigeria Magazine of 1961 published a special centenary supplement to celebrated one hundred years (1861-1961) since the Yoruba Kingdom of Lagos was ceded to Britain by its ruler, Dosunmu. On the 1st of October 1960, Lagos became the capital of Nigeria. Today, Abuja is the capital of Nigeria but Lagos remains the a mega commercial centre of Nigeria and Africa.

Read about Lagos :

British Occupation of Lagos 1861-1961 (1961)

The Beginning of Modern Lagos (1961)

LAGOS—Nigeria’s Melting Pot (1961)

Ariel Views of Lagos 1952

Eko Bridge (1969)

Lagos in Portugal and Lagos in Nigeria (1952)

A Walk Through Lagos Island

To view captions, pass the cursor over the photograph.

arieal view lagos now

2016 Lagos Island top right and Mainland bottom half of photo. lower to upper bridges are : Eko Bridge ; Carter Bridge; Third Mainland Bridge

All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi.

A Persistent Woman in Benin

Mâtiné de Souza.

Beninoise

Educator, Tour Guide, Trader, Women’s Right Activist and Street Children Crusader

I met Mâtiné three years ago on a road trip from Nigeria to Togo. I was so impressed with her accomplishments that I wrote a magazine article, Ghost of Slavery Past and Present.’ At the time she cared for street children in her home helping them find a foothold.

Mâtiné had a dream to open a center/school for street children of Quidah, her home town. Mâtiné’s positive attitude crossed paths with an American photographer and traveller, Craig Sherod, and within the last year, they opened:

Homeless Children’s Center of Ouidah

 

Announcement: Lecture at Megawra, February 28, 2017

16796999_1263575643736676_2507163241973831323_ohttp://megawra.com/event/city-walks-another-perspective-narrating-cairos-history/

For those in Cairo and interested in the chronological growth of city walks in Cairo, Egypt, from 1970-2016, tracing initiatives (individual and organizational) across ten criteria, Shaimaa and I are presenting our paper that we unveiled for the event that was organized by Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage, University of Birmingham, Inheriting the City, April 2016. Lecture is in Arabic, slide show in English. See post, “Conference, Inheriting the City’ here; and at Shaimaa’s newsletter: http://shaimaa-keephuntingphotos.blogspot.com.eg/2016/08/narrating-cairo-walks-exploring-taipei.html

Conference Paper: City Walks: Another Perspective for Narrating the City

Obelisque Magazine – 2017

coverObelisque Magazine, published annually, is now available. The following articles are my contributions to the magazine*.

EIFFEL IN EGYPT

(read article here)

(Text by Lesley Lababidi; Photographs by Omneya Oun)

eiffel-in-paris-7-final-001

THE ART OF LIVING

(read article here)

(Text by Lesley Lababidi; Photographs by George Fakhry)the-art-of-living-05-001

STREET ART – Nahdat Misr

(Text and photography by Lesley Lababidi)

street-art03-001

Read more about Nahdat Misr here

*Effiel in Egypt, Art of Living, and Nahdat Misr  by Lesley Lababidi, copyright 2017. All rights reserved under international copyright laws. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.

**Articles are seen in Obelisque Magazine 2017, all rights reserved. Photographs and text cannot be reproduced without the written permission of Obelisque Magazine and Lesley Lababidi, George Fakhry, Omneya Oun.

***To purchase the magazine, in Cairo, Tanis at the First Mall, Giza; 32 Mohamed Anis, Zamalek and Ritz Carlton, Downtown. Outside of Egypt, contact: obelisque_magazine@yahoo.com or info@obelisquepublications.com. Telephone: +201094449762.

2017

“Beauty always has an element of strangeness… simple, unintended, unconscious strangeness [which] gives it the right to be called beauty.”

Charles Baudelaireimg_2147

Two Egyptian masons take time to greet me as I walk along a bridge in Manial, an island  in Cairo. They shout, Kol Sinna wa enta Tiyeeba...may your year be delicious! Although this is a typical greeting for a birthday or a feast and,sometime just to wish someone well, it is, of course, the greeting for the New Year.

With all the complexities and insecurities of the 2016, it has been difficult for me to say, “Happy” New Year, knowing that 2017 continues a  grim reality for millions of people suffering from inadequate food and shelter,  stripped of their identity and country as communication breaks down everywhere. So today, when I met these two masons who unreservedly communicated goodwill, within those seconds, my emotional response was that of gratitude… for standing on this bridge, at this moment and feeling beauty of tender gratitude.

Thank you to each individual, visitor and follower alike, who grace this web site with your time, your attention, and your most welcomed comments. I am genuinely grateful.