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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Exploring Cairo: The Mostafa Kamel Museum

Samar Nasr, Tuesday 28 Nov 2017
Mostafa Kamel
A bronze statue of Mostafa Kamel (Photo by Samar Nasr)
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To learn the history of four prominent figures in different fields is a great undertaking, but when those histories emerge from a very important historical period in Egypt's past, it will be indeed yield relevant and rich information. Here is the Mustafa Kamel Museum, which showcases the life of a prominent Egyptian figure during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, alongside the important roles of Mohamed Farid Pasha, Professor Abdel-Rahman El-Rafie and Fathy Radwan.

The idea to establish the museum was first submitted in 1955 by the then-Minister of Culture Fathi Radwan, as he saw that the museum could shed much light on the life and the nationalist struggle led by Kamel. The museum also includes a number of books authored by historian Abdel-Rahman El-Rafie, one of Kamel's students and one of his best friends.

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One shrine for four leaders (Photo by Samar Nasr)

The museum is located at Al-Abageyah, Qism El-Khalifa, Cairo Governorate, near the Salah Eldin citadel, very close to Salah Salem road. One can arrive by mini-bus or take the Metro El-Sayeda Zeinab station and then walk only a few meters to its location. It is open every day except Friday and Saturday, from 9:30am till 2:30pm. Tickets are free for all visitors. Photos can only be taken with permission from the culture ministry.

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A brass chandelier hung from the dome of the shrine (Photo by Samar Nasr)

The museum has a significant historical location. It is situated on Salaheddin square, which overlooks the citadel of Salaheddin and the Sultan Hassan, al-Rifai and Mahmoudiya mosques. The right-side wing of the museum houses the gallery of the leader Mustafa Kamel, and includes the medals which were awarded to the nationalist hero, as well as displays his most famous quotes, his coats, correspondences and other personal belongings.

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A copy of the first issue of Al-Liwaa newspaper (Photo by Samar Nasr)

The same room includes gypsum and bronze statues of the national hero.

In his office sits the first copy of "Al-Liwa" newspaper, which he founded and issued in three languages: Arabic, English and French in 1990. Also to be found are pictures of his funeral.

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An oil painting for Denshewai incident. (Photo by Samar Nasr)

In the grand hall, a marble shrine bearing Quranic verses stands to the two activists under large Islamic copper chandelier which hangs from the overhead dome. The shrine is surrounded by a marble enclosure in the form of Islamic windows.

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The entrance of the museum (Photo by Samar Nasr)

In grateful recognition and the desire to revive their memory, Professor Abdel-Rahman El-Rafie adopted the idea of establishing a shrine at the museum for the two leaders, Mustafa Kamel and Mohamed Farid. The parliament then allocated 50 thousand pounds for the construction of the museum at the citadel and arranged for the bringing of the remains of the two leaders.

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An outside picture for the museum (Photo by Samar Nasr)

Oil paintings of the Denshawai incident are found in the Mustafa Kamel room of the museum. They narrate the very cruel incident in which a dispute between British officers and villagers in 1906 led to the latter's execution at the hands of the colonial occupiers.

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An oil painting showing Mostafa Kamel on his last days surrounded by his friends (Photo by Samar Nasr)

The museum was inaugurated in 1956 by Fathi Radwan, Minister of National Guidance. After their deaths, both Radwan and El-Rafie were buried at the shrine.

Each of these four figures had a prominent role in the journey of the Egyptian nationalist movement, making their resting place a visiting site for all classes of Egyptians. The museum encapsulates a valuable bygone era in the history of Egypt, full of struggle and glory, and links the past with the present.

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