Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Kings of Egypt

perfromer dressed in ancient Egyptian costume king
Performers dressed in ancient Egyptian costume wait at the start of the parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies departing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on April 3, 2021, on their way to their new resting place at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation (NMEC) about seven kilometres south in historic Fustat (Old Cairo). Mahmoud KHALED / AFP

Hakim Marzouki

I was pleased with this majestic parade in which Cairo celebrates its kings, moving from a museum to another. But I remembered something: The story goes that the most ancient caricature in history was a crow climbing up the stairs step by step, struggling, sweat dripping from its feathers and its degraded yellow peak.

One of the pyramids‘ builders drew that paradox on his sad cave wall; the cave to which he returns after a long day under the sun, the whips, the insults. At that time, the eyes of a God were observing, testing, and deciding: Should he take vengeance or not; that is the question.

The builder was tired. He was whining and swallowing his anger, like a crow that climbs a staircase. He did that despite wings, feathers, and ability to fly over this marvelous grave and friends who died under its stones.

To make such art, you need paradoxes. Therefore, these majestic graves were built by dead people whose burial under the rubble was just postponed. Are people birds that do not fly?

That drawing was not on clouds. It was by stones and on stones. The drawing was done in a dark cave that neither the masters nor the sun entered. However, this painful smile painted on his stony notebook was – and will remain – more eloquent and long-lived than the pyramids and the Sphinx.

The crow icon denying the blessing of wings was not for entertainment, vain, or a show of technical skills. Instead, it was a purifying act to grant its doer the ability to sleep, dream, and fly, even if that was with broken wings.

Thus, all the caricaturists in the world came out of the black crow’s cloak and made the spectator a partner in commenting or just smiling to fight pain.

History has proven that humor, jokes, and sarcasm are eternal weapons. It proved that only the dead do not laugh nor suffer. History showed us that the arrogant people whom we are unable to repel against – even if with words – will only grow cruller.

However, the smile – and the tear – comes in different colors, types, and purposes. They say, tell me what makes you laugh and cry; I will then tell you who you are. But as for those deprived of laughs and tears, they are just like a tooth that decayed and got its nerves pulled out. So, you should not expect much from those who lost their sadness, joy, surprise, and astonishment.

But the most dangerous of all were those who were devoted to the service of their executioners. They kissed their hands and did not even pray for these hands to be broken. Instead, they considered it a sacred duty, as indicated by one of the research theories in the circumstances of building the pyramids.

I will conclude with a story: The Roman master clenched his fist on the hand of a skinny disciple. The latter said: “Careful with my hand, master”. The master tightened his fist, and the disciple whispered: “My hand is hurting me, I think you will break my hand, master”. The master did it and broke the disciple’s hand, who said with the same low voice: “Oh, you broke my hand, master.”


The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the writer(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Fanack or its Board of Editors.

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Mattia Yaghmai
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