Last Update 21:59
Monday, 21 October 2019

Nubian Author Idris Ali passes away

Nubian author Idris Ali passed away yesterday at the age of 70 as a result of a heart attack

Mary Mourad , Wednesday 1 Dec 2010
Views: 5406
Views: 5406

Nubian author Idris Ali passed away yesterday at the age of 70, following a heart attack. Idris had authored many remarkable books, including The Explosion of  the Skull, The Excluded and Dongola, which was translated into English and dealt mostly with life in Nubia, south of Egypt, depicting the challenges of poverty and marginalization. His stance on Nubian issues gained him much notoriety, for though he clearly considered himself an Egyptian author, defending Nubia as a part of Egypt despite its unique culture and heritage, he fought for the rights of Nubians to better living conditions and compensation for the land confiscated from them when the High Dam was built, which came with unfulfilled promises for housing near Abu-Simbel.  

Idris Ali’s latest work, The Leader Having a Haircut, caused controversy and was eventually banned from the Egypt's 2010 Book Fair. The short novella -- 130 pages -- describes Egyptian workers striving in Libya, driven away from their homes to work under inhumane conditions because of poverty and a lack of proper employment. Ali addresses some of the repercussions of Libyan Leader Moammar Gadafi’s propositions stated in his famous Green Book, namely “The house is owned by its residents,” which dispossesed all Libyans of their savings that they had invested in real estate, and “Owners not workers,” that resulted in the overtaking of management in companies by inexperienced laborers, resulting in a drop in performance and owners abandoning their property.

According to Idris' former media statements, the story doesn’t seek to confront anyone. "[I] lived in peace, next to the wall, for five decades, but now they evoked evil inside me and I will write about everything and will expose corruption and all the issues I avoided raising in my previous novels," Ali had stated, "I was expecting praise and appreciation for my stance on Nubia issues, not this treatment.”

Another one of his works, Above Nuba Mountains, depicts the conflicting life between Cairo and Nubia through the eyes of a young teenager who is forced by her Nubian father to return to Nubia, hoping that her grandmother will teach her traditions, only to discover the difficulty of the endeavor when she attempts escape, each time with a scandal.

Ali’s personal autobiography Below the Poverty Line depicts the difficulties he had throughout his life. Although he loved writing and considered it his life’s task, he worked as an employee in a construction company that paid him barely enough to make a living, and their sole appreciation for his talent was to offer him a small raise when he received the award of the Best Egyptian Novel in 1999 and shook hands with President Mubarak. His minor pension was never enough and his constant suicide attempts reflected his low moods, especially after the loss of his son.

Short link:


Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.

© 2010 Ahram Online.