Last week marked the 90th birthday of Egypt’s psychology icon Mostafa Soueif. The Faculty of Arts at Cairo University seized this opportunity to honour the founding member of its psychology department. The ceremony included a lecture in which Soueif delved into the essence of life through two main keynotes: wisdom and humbleness.
Born in 1924, Soueif is considered one of the world’s most famous and accredited psychologists whose research and papers are pillars of scientific data. In his published memoires, Awalem Motadakhla, (Overlapping Worlds, 2014) Soueif shares his reflections on life over the past 34 years.
On the first page of his memoirs, Soueif eloquently reveals the truth about age and time. “Today I turned 58… what does that mean to me? I still love to listen to old Abdel-Wahab songs, to Beethoven… still thinking of new projects ... as though I will live endlessly. It seems that aging, psychologically speaking, is not related to a specific age, it's rather linked to certain incidences. Perhaps such a relation between time and aging becomes inevitable once we are oppressed by our feeble bodies.”
The pages delve into the truly overlapping worlds of his career and his personal life. Global and national major events are revealed in the simplest yet deepest form of reflection. On historic events that sadly repeat itself.
“1983 - I am currently following the investigations conducted by the ‘Ethics court’ on Esmat Sadat and his children (brother of former president Anwar Sadat) with a complex feeling of disgust … how can all this continue to happen for years in a country that has a minimum essence of modernity with monitoring and judicial entities….. it is as if I realised, after such a long life, a new fact about the individual impact in society. That the crime of an individual can break all limits in theft, looting and blackmailing “
In 1992, the United States saw a case of police violence in which four policemen were acquitted of hitting an African American man in California. The demonstrations were across the whole country demanding justice for the man. It turned ugly and after the death of 41 civilians a thousand injured, the federal district attorney re-opened the case.
“1992 - Meanwhile, Kabul became the ground of looting and sabotage implemented by jihadist militants, after they took it over, despite the fact that they are fighting among each other. Meet the jihadist: In the name of Islam, with American weapons against the atheism of the Communist country! This is indeed a lesson to the world."
His subtle comments on renowned thinker and writer Farag Fouda’s assassination in the nineties are probably what led us to the terrorism that we are still facing now.
“1992 - When renowned thinker Farag Fouda was assassinated by Islamic militants, Grand Mufti, press syndicate and the Arab human rights NGO denounced the act. However there was not a word from Head of Al-Azhar mosque, or Al-Shaarawi and instead we found the regular column of writer Ahmed Bahgat in Al-Ahram was titled 'Happiness … Farag Fouda writes books, articles, and lectures against the ideology of the Islamic militants.'
In the same year he reveals his gratitude to teaching and students.
“1992 - Because I teach them, and because they agree and ask for more, I return with immense joy."
“1985 - In general, my college life remains the closest thing to my heart. It was always satisfying for me, against all odds, if I relived my life I would choose again university.”
Being accredited for his scientific worth made him beyond grateful as he explains in his book that “May God protect you for Egypt’s Sake,” is his favorite compliment because it proves that people value his academic and scientific findings, as he explains in his book.
Due to his illness and the loss of his wife, Soueif refrained from writing his memoires during the past few years which included the beginning of 25 January revolution. However he resumed it in 2013.
In January 2014 he ends his memoir after knowing the results of the referendum regarding the new constitution. “The results were 98.1 percent said yes to the new constitution, the question is: now that we have a constitution, what are we going to do with it?”