Category: Arts

February 7th, 2005 by Radwa El-Barouni

Signposts indicate that we are five minutes away from our destination. Sure enough the colossal cement block resembling a warehouse emerges into view. On the outskirts of Alexandria, Carrefour is so situated that those leaving or entering the city cannot miss it or resist the temptation of dropping in. The practical reason is of course that the construction of this gigantic building no way would have been possible inside the already bulging, overcrowded city.

A spacious car park is alphabetized and numbered for fear that people might forget where they had placed their cars in this uniform allotment. It boasts of endless row upon row of shiny cars whose reflection of sunlight during daytime is almost blinding. Entitled as the city centre, a number of multifarious shops that vary from restaurants, to clothes, to gift shops, including worldwide trademarks like Guess that sell shoes at a thousand Egyptian Pounds (L.E.) a pair, a multi Cineplex and a space that includes videogames and provides entertainment for children, encircle Carrefour.

It is obvious at a glimpse that this is no haphazard or whimsical business project that was established at the spur of the moment from the meticulous details and impeccable organization. It is well-known that Majed El Fouteem, the major mastermind behind this French global chain√ɬ≠s expansion into Egypt, along with an expansive think tank, spent three to four years studying its viability, down to every last minute detail. Read more of this article »

Posted in Egypt, Op-Ed

January 18th, 2005 by Yolain St. Fort

About Love and Race

“The Lord knows how to give generously, but He has no idea how to distribute things evenly among His children.” Maman often mumbled these words beneath her breath as she struggled to braid my hair.

I understood her remark perfectly, though I sometimes wished I didn’t have ears to listen, or eyes to see her disappointment. She said very often that my short, black hair was too stubborn, that my skin shade was too deep, that I was too tall, that I was too thin. The Creator must have run out of supplies when He was designing me. She didn’t mean to be hurtful, I knew. But she couldn’t help comparing me to my next door neighbor whose hair fell on her slender back, whose tender skin was the color of amber, whose eyes shone like the moon.

Maman never said it aloud, but I could imagine her thinking that the Creator must indeed have been in a delightful mood when he sketched Belle.

Belle was the envy of every young girl who lived in Lagune. Including me. She was the pride of every mother in town, though she didn’t belong to them. As they often said with a dreamy look in their eyes, Belle was the closest thing to an angel in Lagune. There were times when I wished that Belle didn’t have such a big heart. Besides dazzling beauty, Belle had a gentle, considerate nature, and a gift for drawing. Read more of this article »

Posted in Fiction, Haiti

January 6th, 2005 by Ilona Lewyckyj

The New Global Sex Trade from Eastern Europe
(Arcade Publishing (September 15, 2004), Hardcover: 320 pages, ISBN: 1559707356)

Victor Malarek’s The Natashas exposes the newest trend in the global sexual slave trade: the sale, rape and sexual servitude of young women from the Former Soviet Union. Approximately 1 million young women are trafficked annually.

Sex trafficking is not new and victims come from all over the world. But what is new is the strength with which the trade has taken hold of Former Soviet countries while they undergo trying socio-economic transitions.

I spent the summer of 2003 in Kiev, training social workers working in rape crisis counseling at a women’s organization combating sex trafficking. Getting victims to understand it is not their fault that they are kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery is one of the most difficult tasks. Some women who managed to return to Ukraine – usually through deportation or escape – sought our help while remaining silent for the most part about their experiences. Read more of this article »

Posted in Book Reviews, Ukraine

December 20th, 2004 by Gaylord Njui Gitau

A bevy of dancers known as Ishiololo belted out, song after song, and left the audience in a trance craving for more. In line with the theme of the day, they mimicked drawing battle lines, unsheathed wooden swords and sang war songs to the crowd that had thronged the local stadium, which had seen many bulls lock horns.

This was Chemasisi, the village known more for non-performance than achievement. It was sandwiched between Ukololo hills, the home of the great god of thunder Umeme, and the habitation of Eshakala, the great god of wrath. It was well served with the great river Olmoloti, which served as the lifeline to the people: water to drink, bathing, swimming and watering points for the animals.

Chemasisi was also a battlefield and the river Olmoloti was a bone of contention between the two antagonistic gods, Umeme and Eshakala. Thunder always struck and wrath would follow in their battle for supremacy. Even the people at times would go for one another’s jugulars. Read more of this article »

Posted in Fiction, Kenya

December 6th, 2004 by Sultana Raza

Long white robes
sarees, shalwars
steaming Indian food
incense, flowers
heavily perfumed roses
white bindis
between eyes
blue, green or gray
glistening or
coursing down
dulcet, sweet, soft
reaching high Read more of this article »

Posted in India, Poetry

December 6th, 2004 by Rijco Van Egdom

fit my clothes
if you would fit my clothes
and take on a different
would we be more the same
when i was smiling too?

Posted in Netherlands, Poetry

December 6th, 2004 by Radwa El-Barouni

Mona inhaled the fairly fresh crisp air as she took big strides. She had taken up walking lately as one of her favorite pastimes. It was not that she enjoyed the physical exercise even though she did immensely, but her solitary walks and ramblings had become a metaphor for something else, for her need to “get out”, her way of coping with the unbearable bouts of restlessness that visited her. Walking helped vent her frustration, her disappointment at the way life had turned out, at how nothing had lived up to her illusory expectations, a viable even if a temporary release from the shackles and limitations that she felt encumbered her on a daily basis. Focusing on her feet, she often felt that she was trying to out stride time and place, at the same time trying to incorporate them within her whole being. What was she running away from? However far she walked she seemed always to return to the same place as if she were on a treadmill, walking on the spot. Mona shuddered as she zipped up her jacket feeling a strong gust of wind rattle through her; she had crossed over to the Cornice and could now view the sea with all its fury at close range.

There was something so beautiful yet so disconcerting most of the time about Alexandria in the winter. Today, it seemed that the whole of the city had been tinted or veiled with a thin film of murky gray. Mona blinked twice wondering if that grayness was within or without? Looking at where sky met sea, where water embraced air in a foreboding lock, where the ephemeral connected with the eternal, fantasy with reality, the mundane with the surreal …………the distinctive line that separated these two domains was smudged, bleary, making it difficult to discern, making it resemble an expansive grave of uncertainty. Read more of this article »

Posted in Egypt, Poetry

November 22nd, 2004 by Jared Pepper

As the Sunday morning sun begins to glow on Australia from Hobart to Rockhampton and stretching as far west as Perth, Australian, Chinese, New Zealanders and a whole array of nationalities that call Australia home are starting the lazy Sunday which is a ritual known to all Australians and those lucky few who have visited Australia and taken part in a lazy Sunday.

As the sun rises you will find many taking to the streets in all different directions on a casual stroll. A man in his thirties comes face to face with a complete stranger and says “Good morning, mate” In which the stranger replies, “mate it’s a lovely day.” Both continue on their journey knowing that they will greet the next person who comes their way as warm and friendly. As often is the case they are people they have never seen before and likely never to meet again.

On the other side of town sits a quiet seaside village with the locally owned fish and chip shop on your right as you enter while to your left more people are starting their Sunday off in a different kind of way by strolling through the Sunday Markets that have been set up to bring the community together and to land that one in a million bargain that everyone is always looking for in life, or perhaps just to get that one of a kind piece of local art. You can find anything you desire in the markets from home made furniture, clothes, fresh fruit and vegetables to jewelry and to pre-owned books. One never goes home without a purchase. Read more of this article »

Posted in Australia, Op-Ed

November 6th, 2004 by Dalia Abdel Megeed

Ramadan is the most precious month in Egypt.The streets are decorated with hanging lanterns, miniature ‘masjids’ and ‘kaabas.’ Long silver streamers run across the street from balcony to balcony, winking and gleaming in the bright sunshine. Television stations change their entire daily program to accommodate new shows and sitcoms made especially for the Ramadan month. Compassion fills people’s hearts, you feel God’s mercy washing over you with so much generosity.

There’s no doubt in my mind that this special month of worship is a blessing to Muslims. Islam is the only religion that has such a type of fasting; going without food or drink from sunrise to sunset for a month. And for those who fear torturing their stomachs during this time, I’m happy to say that medical studies proved that abstaining from eating or drinking for the amount of hours decreed by this month is one of the healthier things to our bodies.

Ramadan, a month of fasting and worship, is also a month of learning and discovery. Islam is a religion that takes great pride in learning. The very first thing God did for Adam when he was a complete human was to teach him the names for everything around him. It tells us in the Qur’an, ‘And He taught Adam all the names (of everything)'[1] A second example of how important reading and learning is to Islam is the first word that Gabriel presented to the Prophet with. The very first word that came down from God to Earth him as the beginning to what would become one of the most miraculous books ever read was ‘Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists)'[2]. Read more of this article »

Posted in Egypt, Op-Ed

October 25th, 2004 by Robert T. Tuohey

It was Monday morning, maybe that’s what started the fight over all the pies. Like always, everybody was sitting around the diner having a cup of coffee or a couple of eggs, getting ready for work. And, like always, nobody looked very happy about it.

Rosie was grumbling that her old man, who was out back fixing something, hadn’t cleaned the grill right. She said she wasn’t getting squat for tips that morning and it wasn’t her fault if the eggs were coming out smoky. Joann, who was sitting next to me, was agreeing with that, saying her ex-boyfriend was always a bastard about his eggs. Me, who was throwing my good eye on Joann, was agreeing with her, saying that smoky eggs could be tasty. A couple of truckers who were passing through were sitting up front bitching about the cops on I-95. Harry was hunched over his baseball scores with nothing to say, as the Reds had lost. Down the far end, Big Rick was quiet too, looking thorough his receipts book, scowling and scratching his goatee. Down the other end, as far away from Big Rick as you could sit, Dom, huge and hairy as a buffalo, was plunked down on his stool. Sitting next to Dom was his son, Eddie. The kid’s about 16, and skinny as a beanpole standing sideways. He doesn’t say much, but when he does it’s usually something goofy.

Now, the standard story is that Big Rick and Dom hate each other’s guts on purely business grounds: each guy says the other is a stinking bastard that scrounged him out of customers and so he wants to kill him. Fair enough. Other folks claim that milk had nothing to do with it, and that the bad blood between them is because both were boinking that hot number Sarah Jennings. I mean, why else would she need two milkmen, right? Well, however it was, each guy thought the other guy was plowing his tomato patch, and so finally they locked horns. It was down to ‘world famous’ Charlie-O’s one night, and legend is that sexy Sarah was waitressing. Folks that saw it said it was like a hurricane that started in the bar, flew out onto the sidewalk, then went ripping down Main Street. I suppose that one’s a stretcher, but even the next day’s newspaper said how those two put a whole shift of cops in the hospital. Read more of this article »

Posted in Fiction, USA