Philosopher, academic, poet and translator Abdel Ghaffar Mekkawi, professor of modern and contemporary philosophy at Cairo University, died on Monday, 24 December at 82 years of age.
The wife of the late writer told Ahram Online that Mekkawi died of pneumonia around 8:00am yesterday and was buried at the family’s cemetery on Suez Desert Road. The family will receive condolences at Al Rashdan Mosque on Wednesday 26 December.
Mekkawi is considered one of the few prominent philosophy professors of Egypt who managed to merge philosophy and literature. He translated dozens of the most sophisticated German philosophy texts into Arabic and to date the best Arabic-language translator of German poetry and philosophy. His translations were marked with his clear and flowing style, even when he translated sophisticated texts like that of Emmanuel Kant and Martin Heidegger.
The late philosopher did not see himself only as a philosophy professor but more importantly as a poet. His literary works and translation were closer to his heart than his philosophy works. To the contrary of many, he did not think that philosophy and literature are contradictory rivals.
In one if his few public appearances in his late life, Mekkawi attended a philosophy conference at Cairo University in May 2010.
Some of the students who joined the college after Mekkawi retired praised him for his translations, which are still the source students to access great German great philosophers.
He responded “Yes, blithely, my dear students, but you know I have another side that you probably didn’t know about: my literary works. They are dearer to me, but they are the most ignored among my works.”
The translator of Kant and Heidegger also translated poems by Rilke, Baudelaire and T. S. Elliot. He translated from German, French and English into Arabic.
Abdel Ghaffar Mekkawi, born on 11 January 1930, graduated from Faculty of Arts, department of philosophy, in 1951 and received his PhD from Freiburg University in 1962.