A prominent poet whose voice left a unique imprint on the airwaves of Egyptian radio for over a half century, Farouk Shousha passed away today at the age of 80.
His death marks the end of a remarkable career spent bringing the depth of classical Arabic poetry to the hearts and minds of generations of listeners, who would almost religiously tune in ten minutes to eleven every evening to hear his programme Loughatouna Al Gamila ("our beautiful language") on the public radio service.
Loughatouna Al Gamila, a ten-minute programme begun some fifty years ago, was not just a programme, but rather a mission to which Shousha, an awarded poet and a member of the Center of Arabic Language, dedicated his life.
Shousha comes second, perhaps, only to the beloved diva of Arab and Egyptian singing Om Kolothoum in making classical Arabic poetry a joyful experience for modern listeners not otherwise familiar with the language—much less its poetry.
His hour-long programme Umsiya Thaqafiya ("an evening for culture") aired on channel one of state-run Egyptian TV from 1977 to 2006, featuring Shousha, in his impeccable but softened and almost heart-warming classical Arabic, discussing subjects of cultural debate.
Born in 1936 in rural Damiatta, Shousha, like most educated men of his generation, attended the Kuttab, where he embraced Arabic through Quranic recitation – an experience he often referred to.
Shousha’s prominent Friday programme Fi Tarik Al-Nour (“In the path of light”), a five-minute programme, offered almost Sufi rendering of Islamic affinity.
Shousha studied Arabic linguistics and history at university and began a career as a teacher before joining the radio in the heydays of 1950s Egyptian nationalism, where he rose to a top executive post.
A university lecturer on Arabic language and literature and a member of many cultural committees, it is truly his poetry and much beloved radio programming for which he will always be remembered.
As he was put to rest in his birth-village, Shousha was doubtless mourned by many listeners who will continue to miss his “This is Cairo” and others who remember the endless echo of his recitation in Fi Tarik Al Nour: “God when we ask for your mercy it is not out of faith in our good-doing but out of hope for your generous compassion.’’