Osama Afifi: The death of an Egyptian culture journalism icon
Mohammed Saad, Wednesday 19 Jul 2017
Egypt lost Sunday a towering figure of culture writing — one who touched generations of artists and journalists

Osama Afifi, one of Egypt's most renowned and established culture editors, died Sunday at the age of 63.

Afifi, who was the top culture editor in many publications – mainly Nasserist leaning ones – was one of the best regarded journalists in culture journalism in Egypt.

Afifi, who was known for his objectivity and decency and hailed as a noble journalist, was also a poet though he never collected his poems in a book.

He leaves behind hundreds of articles and reviews, and also a vast legacy alive in most cultural publications in the form of tens of journalists whom he trained.

"No culture journalist has ever invested so much time and effort in training journalists and students and encouraging them to be critical thinkers, as much as him," said one of Afifi's students, adding that he not only trained them but helped them to get opportunities to write and work.

Amr Ezzat, an op-ed writer and journalist who worked closely with Afifi for years, said in a Facebook post, "He had a clear view of the hard situation that journalism was passing through at the time I joined him in 2004. He even tried jokingly to stop me from moving my career from engineering to journalism, but he was also very serious about how to become a respected journalist that avoids going with the flow of cheap and tacky journalism running in every journalist institution and controlling its top editors."

Ezzat added: "He was devoted to train the people who work with him in a very loving and friendly manner, unlike many other top editors who were infested with their arrogance and vanity."

Even though Afifi had a Nasserist leaning, he always accepted difference and conceded his point when proven wrong.

Afifi left a lot of unfinished work and projects, hundreds of unpublished poems, a book on the scene of the plastic arts in Egypt, a topic that always concerned him and of which he had encyclopedic knowledge, to the extent that you can find his name credited in most books written on the fine arts in Egypt in the past 30 years.

Sayed Mahmoud, former editor of Al-Kahera cultural newspaper, hailed Afifi as "The Mentor" and called for his poems to be collected in a book and published posthumously.

"Afifi was a great value to me; he was very keen to assert the need of a culture editor to have a strong command of the arts. Though he was writing from a nationalist perspective, in many instances he always welcomed disagreement and cheered his protégés when they proved him wrong," Mahmoud said.

Osama Afifi is survived by his wife and two daughters.