Asyut to Sohag: a story of movement and migration


Friends of Manial Palace and Friends of the Coptic Museum at the Red Monastary, Sohag, Egypt

Prince Abbas Hilmi, the chairman of Friends of Manial Palace, enthusiasm to promote Egyptian heritage was demonstrated yet again by organizing an excursion to Asyut, Sohag, and Akhmim, Egypt. Members of the Friends of Manial Palace along with members of the Friends of the Coptic Museum came together for a three-day excursion in December 2016. Our leader and guide was the well-known Egyptologist, Dr. Rawya Ismail. Ahmed Essa from Eagle Travel managed the trip logistics with great success. And to our good fortune, Abouna Maximus, Coptic historian and expert in antique Coptic iconography was on the excursion as well.

I do not claim to be an authority, whatsoever, of Egyptology, archaeology, or Coptic theology (for that matter, any theology), my knowledge is elementary. I offer a glimpse into the past, spanning over 3000 years of history in Upper Egypt. From the reign of Akhenaten at al-Amarnah (1373-1364 BCE) to the Monastery of Virgin Mary at Deir Dronka (1st century), our trip included the White Monastery (442 CE) and Red Monastery (4th century) in Sohag, the Tombs of Meir (6th-12th Dynasty), ancient town of Akhmim, mawlid celebrations in honor of the birth day of prophet Muhammed, mawlid al nabi, (celebrations traced to the Abbasid Caliphate) and the Asyut barrage (1903).

The great Prussian naturalist, explorer, and geographer, Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) wrote about the interconnectedness of the universe and said, “In this great chain of causes and effects, no single fact can be considered in isolation.” Migration is the process in which people move from one place to another for the purpose of settlement. What connects our modern story to the incredible human history, monuments, and philosophy of the past are found in stories of movement and migration. Click on links above for a brief look at connections with past civilizations.

**All rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi. To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required

All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.

8 thoughts on “Asyut to Sohag: a story of movement and migration

  1. Once again you have taken me on a trip to see old Egypt and review history – vividly in words and pictures. I know I will never be able to see these in person, but at least I can view them through your words and pictures and look for more information. I am amazed at how you have grown as a writer and story teller. I am blessed to have you as a friend.
    I am looking forward to your next trip and narrative – where will we be off too?


    • Dearest Joyce,
      You make my day! Your words couldn’t have come at a better time to encourage me on. Thank you for following and sharing your thoughts and opinions. As we started out our young lives together in Lagos, you will hold always a special place in my heart. Your beautiful handmade dolls and embroidery still grace my house, which can transport my memory to those Apapa days. Thank you dear friend. Lesley

      • I look at the turmoil around us and hope that as we remember and keep memories, that the destruction of other antiquities and memories and lives will cease and that the incoming year will bring us PEACE, GOOD HEALTH and a good life for everyone………..
        Take care and continue sharing your wonderful discoveries …..we will always be friends.

  2. Fascinating, Lesley. Over the years I’ve gotten to know a few people from Egypt of various professions, as well as former students of mine.
    It is wonderful , to me, to get acquainted with places in the world via conversations and exchanges of ideas.It’s much more satisfactory than traveling the world via books as a child when I didn’t as yet have any foreign travel background.
    Your writings are enlightening to me; I have the sense that I am there with you!
    The time you take for each article is appreciated by me and, certainly, many others.
    Thank you for sharing,

    • I really appreciate your comment. You encourage me to keep going and keep sharing. Thank you so much. I have a special place in my heart for Egyptians…even this evening, I was in an area of Cairo with which I was not familiar; I was walking around and then stopped to ask for directions. Then I asked the person if he would take me to the place I wanted to go and without hesitation, he said, ‘follow me’ and off he went with a smile and deposited me at my destination and waved goodbye. These human kindnesses are always happening to me in Egypt. L.

  3. Good day Laila. From 13th to 17th century travel writing was popularly known as ‘map’. Therefore, the aim of the travelers was to ‘discover and map the unknown places of the world’. However, modern travel writing begun in the late-18th century. The central theme of these modern travel writings is still an encounter between the Self and the Other. In the 21st century, travel writing takes different dimension. It is neither a map nor medium of encounter between the Self and the Other, but medium of encounter and between Self and Self, particularly with the emergence of ‘neo-travel writing’, popularly known as ‘desperate journey’. Lababidi belongs to 20th century generation, still lives in the 21st century, but her writings share many features with the travel writings of the Columbus’, Polo’s, Ibn Jubair’s…generation. I always find her writings a guide or map that clearly speaks to me about ‘Other’ places. To be frank, I have never been to Egypt, but reading of her books and essays injects confidence in me to feel that if I am to find myself in Egypt now, I may not need any humanly guide. I really enjoy your writings, L.

    • Dear Murtala, The world is a better place for your intellect. How fascinating the information you share about travel writers. Your comparison of my writings to the great travel writers is most humbling. I agree deeply that true travel is a journey of self…you pen this so well. Thank you, Murtala, I am most honored.. L

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