Al Fataah: Feminism and Journalism in the Making

A while back I went into the Diwan bookstore in Zamalek only to find out that a book that I had spent around two weeks proof reading for publication is finally out (though as expected my name is not mentioned in it). This book is a compilation of all the issues of Al Fataah (The Young Woman), the first ever Women’s magazine in Egypt (and most probably in the Arab world) which was published from November 1892 till March 1894 by Hind Nofel.

What is impressive about this magazine is not just that it provides insight into the birth and development of women’s rights movement in the country but it also provides insight into the birth and development of journalism. Also, the hundreds of articles it contains are very representative of the age from the too ornate and flowery language that uses too many synonyms and images to the strong class consciousness that lurks behind many of the op-eds.

The magazine contains everything that is thought to be of benefit to the making of an upright and enlightened new woman. There are autobiographies of important and influential women (most of whom are European royalty or intellectuals and interestingly the very first woman portrayed in the very first issue of the magazine is Queen Victoria!). Many articles are dedicated to the art of home making, etiquette and health and every once in a while you find glossy magazine prototype articles describing the weddings of daughters of Egyptian nobility and the contents of their new houses. There are even articles summarizing some of the wacko 19th century scientific theories on race.

My favorite articles are the op-eds in every issue, reading them you learn a lot about the contradictory conservative and liberal aspects that struggled for control within the minds of these early feminists. Thus, while for instance they strongly defended their belief that gender roles in society are manmade and not natural, you find them criticizing European and American suffragettes for wanting to trespass into the world of politics which is described as solely for men!

The women writing in the magazine show strong awareness of and ties with other contemporary women’s movements not only in Europe as expected but also in the USA. In fact, one of the magazine’s contributors, Estir Azhari, was invited and went to the 1893 Congress of Women that was held during the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

You can find the book, which was compiled and reprinted by the Women and Memory Forum as part of their goal to bring to light the underestimated size of women’s contributions to the Arab social and cultural history, at Diwan Bookstores in Zamalek and Heliopolis or at the headquarters of the WMF itself (83 Shehab St. Mohandesin, third floor). This compiled book also contains an interesting introduction by Professor Hoda Elsadda. However, in it the WMF made a few alterations to how some words are spelt to make them follow today’s modern standardized spelling (eg. In the 19th century many Arabs tended to spell anything with a hamza with a ya’).

If you are in the USA, you can find the original copies of the magazine at the Yale University Library.

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Dalal Mughrabi, the Freedom Fighter

Last week the name of Dalal Mughrabi was repeatedly mentioned in the news in connection with the Lebanese-Israeli exchange of prisoners (another victory for Hizbullah). 30 years after her death, Dalal’s corpse finally made it back to her family. But who is Dalal Mughrabi?

Dalal was one of the earliest known Palestinian freedom fighters. Born in 1958 in a refugee camp to a family that lived in Jaffa until 1948, when the Israelis won the war, killed and chased out hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and established their current state, Dalal was raised in Beirut and secretly joined the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization).

In 1978 just before she turned 20 and having had received proper military training, Dalal was chosen to carry out the Kamal Al ‘Odwan Operation (the Israelis called it the Coastal Road Massacre) in retaliation for the assassination of several PLO leaders one of which was Kamal Odwan.

According to the plan, Dalal and her squad were to land near a coastal road heading towards Tel Aviv, hijack one of the military buses driving in that direction and head for the Knesset and in the process kill as many soldiers and Israeli leaders as possible. The mission was never accomplished. Half way through the process the Israeli military learned of what happened and a chase took place on the coastal road leading to the death of several civilians in the cross fire. After many hours of a vicious street war in which tens of Israeli soldiers were killed the 11 Palestinian fighters ran out of ammunition and finally the Israeli army squad, led by Ehud Barak, shot all of them to death.

When journalists arrived to report on the incident Ehud Barak shot several bullets on the already dead Dalal for the benefit of photographers and then proceeded to disarm her from the empty ammunition belt she had on and pulled her by the hair to allow for a better view of her face!

While Dalal and many other Palestinian martyrs are celebrated in the Arab world for their heroic attempts at liberating Palestine, in mainstream American and right-wing European media, as with anything Palestinian, the Zionist Israeli point of view is the only one heard.

One look at the English results of a Google search on Dalal will show how she is described as a murderer, terrorist and at best an extremist separatist who killed Israelis for no reason at all. She is blamed for the death of several civilians who died in the cross fire, and the Israeli operation that followed hers (which led to the death of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians) is not seen as a brutal act of force but as a natural outcome to her operation. You see, when your country is colonized by people who mass-murder your people and steal their land, you are expected to just watch and do nothing or you are an evil, evil terrorist.

This is the only English post on Dalal that I found that is worth reading, though I have a few reservations to it. If you know of any other non-Zionist English articles on her please send me the link.

One final comment I want to add is that in her will, Dalal Mughrabi, asked that she be buried in her country, Palestine, after her death, why was her body returned in the exchange, I don't understand.

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One Hundred Years of Cairo University

It's finally the end of school year at Cairo University and as usual this period just gets on my nerves with all the papers I have to correct and the exams I had to supervise. Anyway, what makes this year, 2008, special is that Cairo University is celebrating its centennial. I'll write in more depth about the event later but for now I will just give you a very brief history along with a few pictures. As early as the first decade of the 19th century with Mohammad Ali Pasha's modernisation project, Egyptian higher education schools that followed the European model were established. Yet it was not until December 1908 that these schools were brought together under what was first named the Egyptian University and then Foad I University and finally, after the 1952 military coup, Cairo university. At the beginning Cairo University was located where the American University in Cairo is currently (in Downtown Tahrir square) but in 1929 the university moved from the rented mansion to its current campus. Here are a few pics that belong to my department, more will come later: Cairo University (then known as Foad I University) when the new campus was first inaugurated in 1928 The English Department, Faculty of Arts, Cairo University (Class of 1959) The Cairo University English Department, Class of 1978 The English Department Class of 1995 Class of 2004
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"An Intelligent Man's Guide to Modern Arab Feminism"

Since I have attacked quite a few men for their sexist remarks on this blog, I feel I owe it to all the respectable men out there to acknowledge their efforts in supporting women's struggle for their rights. To do so I'll begin with our forefathers.

Here is an excerpt from Professor Fawwaz Traboulsi's "An Intelligent Man's Guide to Modern Arab Feminism", published in the feminist Lebanese magazine AL Ra'eda:

The Nahda The woman’s question was central to the problematic of the Nahdah, the Arab cultural renaissance of the mid-nineteenth century. The pioneers of the Nahdah regarded women’s inferior status as the basic cause for the backwardness of the Arab and Islamic societies and were unanimous in affirming that there will be no renaissance for Arabs and Muslims without the renaissance of Arab women. Bustânî, Tahtâwî, Afghani, `Abdû, Qâsim Amîn and Tâhir Haddâd.and otehrs shared the belief that the renaissance of women will be achieved mainly through education. This is the gist of the famous address by Mu`allim Butrus al-Bustânî on the Education of Women in the 1860's. But the men of the Nahdah mostly envisaged an educated bourgeois or aristocratic woman confined to her home and whose education was mainly invested in educating her children.

One major break from this tradition is to be found, very early on, in the writings of the Maronite Lebanese converted to Islam, Ahmad Fâris al-Shidyâq (1804-1887). Shidyâq's Al-Sâq `Ala-l-Sâq (Paris, 1855) acclaimed as a founding text in Arabic modernity, was written in praise of women and the Arabic language. More, the author declares that while writing his book, “as if I myself had become a woman”. In contrast to the rest of the Nahdah pioneers, who emphasized education, Shidyaq considered Work as the main motor of the Arab renaissance. He urged the right of women to work; attacked segregation between men and women because it treats woman as a sexual object, called for the equal right of women to divorce, and critiqued the double standards in dealing with women’s infidelity. The radical novelty of Shidyâq resides in his vision that the repression of woman’s instincts was the basis of male domination. He defended woman’s equal right to sexual pleasure. Not content with the formal equality between the sexes, he looked into the consequences of social inequality on women. In his moving pages of observations on the England of the Industrial Revolution, Shidyâq discusses prostitution not only as a moral question but also as a consequence of poverty

Qâsim Amîn (1863-1908) is credited with the first work in Arabic devoted to the liberation of women. In his Tahrîr al-Mar’ah (The Liberation of Woman, 1899) to be followed a year later by Al-Mar'ah al-Jadîdah (The New woman, 1900), Amîn rejected the notion of woman as an inferior creature and called for woman’s equality with man. But, in direct contrast to Shidyâq, he was a purist concerning relations between the sexes. Although he attacked polygamy as an impediment to the progress of women and of society, he nevertheless rejected sexual pleasure and approved of the veil (the head cover) but opposed the Niqâb and the Burqu`. The anonymity imposed by these two forms of veiling, he argued, would encourage licentious behavior.

The Beginnings

The inter war period was a period of gestation for modern Arab feminism in more than one sense.

Great strides were made in the battle for education. As early as 1928, Egyptian Universities had opened their gates to girls. The immediate results were wider access by women to administrative posts and generally an increased presence in the labor force with the development of industrialization during WWI and its aftermath.

Equality of Rights was no more a slogan. A new era of women's militancy started. As early as 1920, Egyptian women workers imposed the first legislation on working hours for women. Nabayiwwah Musa (Egypt) was among the many pioneers in the struggle for working women's rights.

That period also witnessed the proliferation of women’s press, especially in Egypt and Lebanon: Hind Nawfal's Al-Fatat (November 1892), Rosa Antûn's Majallat al-Sayyidât wa-l-Fatayât (1903-), Mustafâ `Abd-al-Râziq's Al-Sufûr, (1915-), Nabawiyyah Musa's Tarqiyat al-Fatât (1923-), and Munîrah Thâbit's Al-Amal (1925-)...

But the issue of the veil and segregation dominated the best part of that period. “Unveiling or death”! is the motto launched by the the Iraqi poet Ahmad Sudqî al-Zahâwî in a founding article, Evils of the Veil (1908) in which he accused sexual segregation between men and women of encouraging pederasty. In another article, In Defence of Women, a year later, he argues that freedom is a gift common to both men and women and derides the argument about man’s superiority based on his superior physical strength. Animals are stronger than men, should they have superior rights over them? Al-Zahhâwî opposed polygamy and called for women's equal right to divorce, based on a simple argument: if women are given the right to approve their marriage, according to the Shari`ah, how can they be deprived of any say in its dissolution? Al-Zahhâwî goes even further in his critique as he evokes the inequality inherent in the Islamic promise of Heaven in which men are promised the famous seductive houris (700 to 70.000 of them) whereas women are promised to desire only their husbands. Zahhâwî's writings on the woman question provoked demonstrations against him in the streets of Baghdad and the city's Ottoman wâlî ultimately dismissed the poet from his teaching post at the Law school.

Mansour Fahmi (1886-1959) dealt with the question of the veil from a totally different angle. In his doctoral thesis entitled La condition de la femme dans la Tradition et l’évolution de l’Islamisme. (Paris, 1913) he resorts to ample philological and historic evidence in order to prove that neither in pre-Islam nor in the Prophet Muhammad’s time, there existed a piece of cloth designed to hide woman’s face from men. Among the evidence provided by Fahmi is that the hijâb in âyah 52 of Surat al-Ahzâb refers to a cloth partition inside the tent and the Jilbâb in âyah 59 (of Al-Ahzâb also) refers to a shawl for the body. Back in Egypt, Fahmi was bitterly attacked and forced to renounce his theory. His book is still not translated into Arabic.

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Lotfiyah Al Nadi

Since the summer season has begun and many of my friends are flying outside the country I thought I should post something on air travel, something about Latifa Al Nadi, the first Egyptian female pilot.

 

Lotfiyah Al Nadi was born in 1906 and after finishing her schooling she found out about the newly established flying school and decided to join it. However, her father rejected the idea and when she insisted he allowed her to pursue her dream but decided that he is not going to pay for her education. This, however, did not stop her; instead she took up a job as a telephone operator in Egypt Air and with her salary paid for her flying classes.

 

In 1933 after 3 months in school Lotfiyah got her flying license which was number 34 meaning that only 33 men had graduated before her. This way Lotfiyah became the first Egyptian, Arab and African woman to get a flying license.

 

Her English teacher was so excited about the idea that he sent a picture of her to the international press and so she became very famous especially when in the same year of her graduation she won the Alexandria to Cairo flying competition.

latifaalnadi.jpg She was also finally able to make her father change his mind and begin to support her when, after graduation, she took him on a ride above Cairo and around the pyramids. Lotfiyah helped establish the Pilots' Club and was its secretary general for 20 years. Unfortunately in the early 50s she had a terrible accident while landing that left her with a broken spine and damaged face and forced her to leave Egypt for Switzerland on a long journey of treatment and has remained there ever since. Since an Egyptian women has started flying as early as 1933 you would think we should have by now a lot of female pilots but that is completely untrue. Apart from Dina Al Sawy, Lotfiyah's only female student (and maybe one or two other women I haven't heard of) there are no Egyptian women pilots. That says a lot about how Egypt has developed over the years, right?
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Rose Al Yousef

rosa-al-yousef.jpg So today is the anniversary of the death of Rose Al Yousef, the actress turned journalist and political activist, and what do you know, the magazine that she established and named after herself didn't bother to at least pay her tribute in a tiny column on any inside page –let alone writing a feature on her life and work. Anyway, I don't think she would have liked her name mentioned in the current degenerate version of her originally brilliant magazine ( I am sure she turns in her grave every time this magazine that still names itself after her comes out with a new issue). Rose Al Yousef (originally named Fatima Al Yousef) was born in 1898; she was a Lebanese of Turkish origin. At age 14 she moved to Egypt and started acting on stage. She grew up to be a very famous and well established actress but in 1925 she gave up acting to pursue journalism, a career she was more passionate about. She started the weekly Rosa Al Yousef on the 26th of October 1925 as an arts and culture magazine. The magazine was a hit and sold thousands of copies in a very short time. However, it didn't remain confined to the cultural and artistic fields for long. Soon the magazine started covering local politics. At the beginning the magazine was supported by Al Wafd, the ruling party of the time, because it seemed to agree with much of the party's political views. However, after Rose began a campaign against the Prime Minister, Mohammed Tawfiq Nesim Pasha, and succeeded in bringing him down for his refusal to resurrect the 1923 constitution which limited the powers of the king, the Wafd considered her an enemy. Rose Al Yousef is the mother of Ehsan Abdel Qudous the famous Egyptian novelist and short story writer and the grandmother of Mohammed Ehsan Abdel Qudos the moderate and popular member of the MB. Rose also established Sabah Al Kheir magazine in 1956 and wrote her autobiography, Zekrayat (Memories) . She died soon after on 10 April 1958.
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Gourna

Where the Dead Come First

On Friday I went to Luxor to help a British journalist with a story about a small village called Gourna (Qurna in Modern Standard Arabic) and what I saw was really depressing. A whole village was being torn down and the lives and memories of thousands of people were being erased and no one seemed to care.

I don't have anything extra to add to the story. It is beautifully written and I recommend you go and read it. However, I want to discuss one issue. If, as in the case of Gourna, antiquities are found under peoples' homes what should be given priority, the living or the dead?

All of us know that Egypt is a country with one of the oldest, if not the oldest, civilizations in the world. All of us know as well that there are many more ancient antiquities buried underneath our soil than we have heard of, but if they are discovered and if they happen to be lying underneath a city or a village does that give the authorities the right to displace a whole group of people? To destroy everything that meant "home" for them?

The people of Gourna have been living there for centuries and make a living selling artifacts to tourists dropping by to visit the Tombs of the Nobles that are located in the heart of Gourna (An estimated 450 more tombs of the noble are said to be lying under their homes). The open space also enables them to raise poultry and other farm animals that they can afford to feed.

Ever since the 1940s when the Tombs of the Nobles were discovered the people of Gourna have been pressured to move but in spite of the fact that the government offered them different alternatives they always refused, not because they don't want better housing accommodations (They are not allowed running water so that they won't ruin the buried tombs) but because in a poor place like Luxor where the budget is dedicated completely to making the lives of tourists easier rather than improving the lives of the locals the only way to make a living apart from farming (which is impossible in the desert area they live in) is to work in tourism.

Now, however, this only option is gradually being taken away from them. From 2006 when the plan to move the people of Gourna to New Gourna (which is located some kilometers away from Old Gourna and from any tourist sites) was revived until this weekend more than 300 homes have been destroyed in the process of turning the area into a tourist site with no dirty locals to tarnish the scene or bug the tourists.

What is worse, they are not being fairly compensated. Whereas in the past they were offered big houses and more space, right now no matter how big their old house was or how many family members they have they are offered only one storey, two bedroom houses that look like makeshift sea side chalets!

Anyway, as one of the villagers we interviewed pointed out, it is not a question of compensation but of the fact that this is his home, this is the place where his great grandparents have lived and nobody has the right to force him out.

I love antiquities, I love visiting temples and museums but at the same time I'm fed up with how our ancient Egyptian history, our "7000 years of civilization" has been used by antiquity worshippers (or should I say Dollar and Euro worshippers) to stifle our poor people so that tourists could enjoy their short stay in the country.

On another note, isn't it ironic that these nobles who I'm sure oppressed the poor when they were alive back in the class conscious ancient Egypt are once again oppressing the poor in their death.

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Shajarat Al Dorr

pic15.jpg  Recently there has been a fuss in the media over the Egyptian mufti’s fatwa that decreed that women can not be heads of states (later the mufti clarified that he meant that they cannot be heads of Muslim states, i.e. Caliphs, since part of a Caliph’s role is to lead people in prayer –a thing which traditional Muslim clerics and scholars agree can only be performed by a man). Apart from the fact that this fatwa (in both versions “women can’t be heads of secular states/ women can’t be caliphs”) can be undermined theologically (though not socially), it has reminded me once again that mainstream Muslim scholars have yet to break away from misogynist interpretations of the Quran and Hadith. Though the fatwa might now sound harmless, since there are no presidential elections taking place with women candidates running for the position (for the first version of the fatwa) and since the Caliphate has ended almost a century ago (for the second version of the fatwa), history has taught us that fatwas like these that help do nothing but stress women’s supposed inferiority to men can be destructive. Let’s not forget that almost 800 years ago a similar fatwa helped bring an end to a strong and popular woman’s ambitions. That woman was called Shajarat Al Dorr (Tree of Pearl). Shajarat Al Dorr was the wife of Sultan Al Saleh Ayoub. Near the end of his reign the country was attacked by crusaders from Europe led by the French King, Louis IX. Half way through the war Sultan Al Saleh Ayoub died after a long sickness. Since declaring that the sultan of Egypt has died would have caused confusion and would definitely have led to the defeat of the Egyptian army, Shajarat Al Dorr decided to keep his death a secret until the war ends, this was easy for her to do because she had a lot of followers in the castle whom she could rely on in times like these. In the meantime she took over her husband’s position and sent orders to the army and helped set different plans until the war was won and King Louis IX was captured (he was later set free after paying a huge ransom and signing a peace treaty). Once the war ended the death of Sultan Al Saleh was made public and Shajarat Al Dorr became a national hero. Turanshah, the son of Sultan Al Saleh from a previous wife, then took over Egypt. However, he turned out to be very corrupt and tyrannical and instead of being grateful towards his stepmother he threatened her constantly and demanded all of his father’s money (most of which was spent in the war). He also started provoking the Mamluks (white slaves from south east Europe and Turkey used in the military) who at the time had become a popular and powerful lobby especially after being responsible for Egypt’s many victories. Fearing that he might deprive them of the power and position they have fought so hard to reach, they soon killed him and made Shajarat Al Dorr their ruler. Why her and not anybody else? First because the late Sultan had no other close male relatives and no second cousins the Mamluks could trust to back their interests (they themselves could not rule because they were not aristocrats something which could be attained either through blood relations or marriage). And Second, Shajarat Al Dorr was very popular, was an aristocrat through her marriage to the Sultan AND, most important of all, she was one of them. She was originally a Mamluka of Turkish origin (some historians say she was Armenian). Shajarat Al Dorr was crowned queen in May 1250 and during her very short reign she proved to be a very wise ruler. Unfortunately the Ayubbids in the Levant were not happy with the idea of the Mamluks taking over Egypt. The Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad also did not like the idea of a woman ruling over men. He soon sent a letter in which he quoted the weak hadith attributed to the Prophet “Woe to the nation that is ruled by a woman” and wrote that “if you have no men left let us know so that we can send you a man”. Religious scholars then started preaching that it is against the Sharia for a woman to rule over men and so Shajarat Al Dorr found herself being attacked from both inside and outside the country. Since she didn’t want to give up her position she looked around to see if she could find a man that would be easy to control and she found that in Ezz Eddin Aybak, the head of the army, who became known as King Al Mo’ez. After her marriage things calmed down and she continued to rule Egypt through her husband. This situation, however, did not last long. Al Mo’ez soon felt that he has had enough with her control over him and decided get rid of her and to marry another woman and make her his queen instead. News of his plan reached her and quickly she came up with a counter plan to get rid of him. She sent him a message asking for his forgiveness and promising to submit to his power. Al Mo’ez fell for the trap and went to visit her. Once he got there however, she made her slave boys beat him to death and then announced that the king died suddenly at night. Many people were skeptical and it was not long before the truth was discovered and she was killed in revenge. How did she die? There are two versions of the story. According to the first, which sounds more plausible, she was arrested and then killed by the eldest son of El Mo’ez. And according to the second version, which has been adopted by scriptwriters, she was beaten to death with the wooden clogs of her husband’s first wife’s slave girls! Anyway, due to the desparate and bloody actions she committed near the end of her life in order to stay in power, Shajarat Al Dorr lost her popularity. And since the victorious are the ones who write history several history books have turned her into a power hungry Lady Macbeth. This vision, unfortunately, is the one is used by our terrible soap opera scriptwriters. Though nothing justifies blood shed, Shajarat Al Dorr did nothing more than what any other male ruler would have done in such unstable times to remain in power. Unfortunately her battle to stay in power was not against a group of people but against a supposed religious belief and so she lost.
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Hatshepsut the Pharaoh Queen

Since the website carries Hatshepsut’s name I guess it is only logical that the first post should be about her. Hatshepsut ruled from around BC 1503 to BC 1482. She was the eldest daughter of Thutmose I and his queen Ahmose and in accordance with the laws of the time she got married to her half-brother Thutmose II and ruled jointly after her father died. From the minute she became queen she also became the actual ruler of Egypt since her husband remained sick for a very long time till he died leaving her with two daughters and a stepson, Thutmose III, from another secondary wife. Since the laws of Egypt stated that a woman could never be pharaoh and at the same time a pharaoh cannot rule without a queen, she made herself her stepson’s guardian and ruled with him. However, being the strong woman she was, she hated the idea of sharing power with a child so she came up with a plan that would help her get rid of her stepson and make the people of Egypt accept her as their only ruler. The plan was a story about her divine birth, which her loyal priests carved on the walls of the many temples built during her reign. According to Zahi Hawas the story runs as follows: “Amun, the king of gods, gathered all the gods of Egypt and declared that he wants to have a child that would rule Egypt, so the god of wisdom and knowledge, nominated Ahmose, the wife of king Thutmose I to be the mother of that child.” Drawings on the walls of her temples record the events of this holy marriage and divine birth of the daughter of Amun, Hatshepsut. However, she is portrayed as a boy and not a girl. After popularizing this story Hatshepsut banished Thutmose III to a distant palace and declared herself both the pharaoh and the queen of Egypt. And to make sure that Egyptians will always accept her as their only ruler all her royal statues portrayed her as a man with a pharaoh’s attire and beard! However, her femininity was still asserted through the soft, straight lines outlining her nose, big eyes and high cheek bones. Though during her reign Egypt was an empire with a strong army, the use of weapons was minimal; a fact which made some historians call her the queen of peace. Carvings on the walls of her two remaining temples show images of tribe leaders from as far as Somalia and Ethiopia paying tribute to her and accepting her rule willingly –a far cry from the images of defeated foreigners lying under the feet of the victorious pharaoh that fill the walls of ancient Egyptian temples. Prosperity came with the peace and stability that she was able to provide for her people. Caravans and trade ships traveled along known and unknown routes to places in East and central Africa and Asia and came back loaded with goods that helped improve Egyptians’ life style. If you thought Cleopatra’s and Antonio’s love story was intriguing and romantic (Shakespeare’s version of the story aside) wait till you read more about Hatshepsut’s love affair with her head Engineer, Senmout. (I read once, but can’t remember where and so can’t confirm it, that on a wall in her Deir Al-Bahari temple there is a carving that shows Senmout and Hatshepsut together with the word “lover” written under his picture and “goddess” under hers). However, like the majority of famous love stories, Hatshepsut’s love for Senmut led to her downfall. After becoming close to him, Hatshepsut appointed him as the governor and guardian of her daughter and gave him more than 80 titles. She also allowed him to build his grave close to hers (he dug a tunnel between the two graves), an honor that was hardly ever granted to commoners. Senmut’s growing power made many people jealous especially that he was not of royal blood and hence thought undeserving of the attention and importance given to him. As a consequence, many important figures in the government started supporting Thoutmosis III’s claim to the throne especially that he had grown to become a strong warrior. What happened in the final years of her reign is uncertain, however, Egyptologists agree that it was a period where everybody was plotting to get hold of the crown. Senmut somehow was banished from the palace and died or was killed right after leaving and soon Hatshepsut also died. Again, some say it was a natural death, others say she was poisoned by her stepson. Though after her death her name was removed from the walls of temples or replaced by the name of Thutmose III, the fact that she was the only pharaoh queen to rule on her own, and to rule successfully, for almost two decades in spite of the religious beliefs of the time is an achievement that was never repeated in Egypt’s history.
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