Author: Tahseen Yaqin
“I am the question and the answer, the key to the puzzle and the solution to the mystery, Bishr Bin Amer Abdel Zaher,” the artist Yahya Al-Fakhrani’s phrase in the introduction to the series, which I thought about, can only have an indication of the general idea and message of the series.
Anwar Okasha’s choice of Bishr, the central character in the series, the son of an Egyptian and an Italian, was nothing more than a marriage between two civilizations, as Bishr was the result of this interaction between Amer Abdel Zaher and Francesca, as they are a symbolic civilized reality. If the third part had been shown, it might have influenced my assumption.
It is the Alexandrian-Egyptian, Arab figure that was crystallizing in the 1940s, including an ordinary human figure who was at odds with impulses, of good and evil, and of general and individual salvation, in the shadow of the colonial English presence. Maybe it has something to do with the whole of his work, in the search for identity and to belong to the era.
Zizinia, an Egyptian series written by Osama Anwar Okasha and directed by Gamal Abdel Hamid. Two parts of it were shown, more than 76 episodes, and the third part was supposed to follow them, but it did not happen, so millions of Arabs were deprived of it. The first part was titled “The Guardian and Al-Khawaja”, while the title of the second part was “Al-Layl and Al-Fanar”, which was subtitled “Sailing in the Storm” as it was its first chapter. The third part was supposed to bear the same title as the second part, “Al-Layl and Al-Fanar” with a different subname.
“The Guardian and Al-Khawaja”, “The Night and the Light” and “Sailing in the Storm”, titles with connotations, the relationship between times, between light and enlightenment, and conflicts, in the light of the transformations of the Alexandrian Egyptian, Arab and Islamic society, amid international transformations.
See what made me revisit 76 episodes? Is there a subjective, personal reason for my association with Alexandria and Egypt as a student years ago? Or is it a national, patriotic and humanitarian year for what the city and the series represent in terms of connotations?
The city of Alexandria is one of the most important cosmopolitan cities, it is the state on which the city was founded by Greece and the Syrians, it is the place, and the time is the forties, in the twentieth century, where the world war, before and after , and international conflicts to fill a vacuum near the end of occupation-colonial Britain to Egypt, which focused on the end of its rule in the Suez Canal area.
Historically and politically, the 1940s was a decade for the development of the political system, at the level of parties and the press, under the monarchy. Liberalism flourished in Egypt, and the old and new parties diversified, especially those associated with the 1919. revolution, and at the same time the country was not spared from mismanagement and administration, even before the July 1952 revolution. This controversy has continued to this day.
Socially and economically, and because of its presence at sea, and its proximity to modern Europe, many Arabs and foreigners, and of course Egyptians, came there; It flourished in the 1930s and 1940s, when this mixture of nationalities lived, and the city was able, despite the differences, to merge into a common culture, called Alexandria, where the series brought the society of Alexandria with reflected its different sects. period.
And Okasha is a fan of the city, and he chose it as a place to write, and he should have inspired him, especially this series, which was in the Zizinia neighborhood, and the Zizinia neighborhood currently stretches north. to the Corniche Road in Alexandria. Ziznia from the south to the end of Ibrahim Al-Attar Street, and Riyadh Street, and Ziznia area belong to the Eastern Alexandria neighborhood.
When we searched for this neighborhood, we got to know Stephan Zizinia, a Greek by origin, who had working relationships with the Khedive government. Zizinia realized the importance of the city of Alexandria and bought land there, and after a period, Zizinia sold part of the land to the government; To extend the tram line, and after the extension of the line, construction began on the area.
People live between two different cultures, united by Alexandria, who had the act of a beautiful son-in-law, who left all the communities their uniqueness, but within what is common that suits the city in general, as an Egyptian and an Arab city.
Bishr moves between the popular Alexandrian neighborhood where he lived, where he was raised by his Egyptian stepmother, and the neighborhood Zizinia, where his mother Francesca lives with his uncle Giovanni, who has the word not in the family but in the Italian community, and in Alexandria, as a well-known and wealthy businessman.
Bishr was deeply attached to his Egyptian neighborhood, while being influenced by the whole of his culture in the Zizina neighborhood, as if he reminded us of Isaf al-Nashashibi’s book “An Arab Heart and a European Mind”, so he best acquired. of the cultures of the two neighborhoods, in which they cross each other.
Although each neighborhood attracted him to his culture, each neighborhood was aware, without explaining, of the importance of his presence in both neighborhoods, which means that Hajj Amer looks with satisfaction at the culture of people and what he takes from the world of khawajat acquired, however, his uncle, Senior Giovanni, needed the side. The Egyptian is a man, and he sees in this a rich element for him, and he saw him as his son, for Giovanni was also influenced by the pluralistic culture of the city, though he sometimes seemed inferior, he also felt that he was Alexandria as he was Italian, and even his work was concentrated in it, so he became his son, who is integrated in her, and even loves her, and this is what he called his second wife, then he hinted to her that he was offered to travel to New York to work, but he did not imagine how far he would live from the city, and even told her that she was so, and she nodded in agreement.
Bishr Amer Abdel-Zahir, live that social, cultural and even emotional pluralism. He is emotionally inclined towards Aida, from the rich and influential Egyptian class, but he finds himself leaning towards Aziza, his stepmother and his babysitter. Before that, he had married his maternal uncle, Valera, as it had to do with Giovanni’s financial will, and perhaps on the other hand, loyalty to his uncle, which he did not declare.
The son and the young man live in the midst of this society, in his father’s extended family, and his mother’s extended family as well, and the effect of interests in relationships appears, as the case of Arab society in Alexandria shows, and the inequality between the educated elites, and between the popular classes, which are also affected by the old and the new. Modernity appears, Sufi rituals appear, and people stand in the midst of it all with its noble heart and rationality.
He concluded with the introduction and the ending, which are the words of the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm, composed by Ammar Al-Sharei, and sung by Muhammad Al-Helou.
He begins by describing the city, its beauty and its love for it:
Alexandria again, and oh, the love of Yanni and the saffron sand on Amber Beach
And the magic that I had, and the sea that contained me, and the sea were a thousand waves, and the wave was a thousand states
And I’m in love with a girl in Alexandria, Yaba, and the idea that I’ve forgotten is an impossibility.
I fell in love with your sea and drowned in you, and I fell in love with you
I heard about you and I loved Becky and I liked your closeness anyway
Then he goes on to talk about that pluralism, and how the khwajas in Madinah merged, loved and belonged to it:
And I slept with Vicky Al-Khawaja, I wanted to be Agriji, but Masrawy was a genius
Iskandarani, lover of Jaan songs, sings, Shaban sings
Webat in a state becomes in a state and forgets this impossibility
And in the morning I heard the sound of the breeze on the sea, and the sea was high
And I heard a lord say, O Egypt, the world is awake; why sleepest thou?
And here, “O Egyptian of the world is awake, why do you sleep?” There is a reference to the motivation of Egyptians to awakening, enlightenment and contemporary.
As for the following verses in the introduction, they summarize this struggle, crystallization, and even a dream:
And when he became stubborn and betrayed my modernity, do not pull my back tight and do not take my hand
I built my palace in your lap on Ramla, and I opened an Egyptian lap to the sea
Do the thing, do the message, and forget this impossibility
As for the sequence of the end of the Zizinia series, it was a loyalty to the city that contained everyone, and it hopes for the movement of history:
And Ammar, O Alexandria, O beautiful, O Mary, is a promise, written upon me, and laid on the forehead
Do not drink from love like a pill, and go down to the sea of love, and dwell in the bosom of loved ones and good people
Your stories, Zizinia, stories, people and Dunya in Alexandria’s stories and the nights of singers
As for history, it accompanies and pushes with the burdens, tired in the boats and the singing of the fishermen
Hey, hey, hey, bella, sheyal, age is a thing, and the worries of the world are a night when the moon is sad
Oh, the waves of the sea of nights, I counted you while you were high, and you paid the dowry dearly for days and years
We conclude by thinking about the artist Nabil Al-Halafawi, who addressed his followers on Twitter: “I see (Zizinia) with a strange feeling that I want to share with you in it. I … I feel that he one of me is .. companions in their uniforms .. He followed them .. He followed this distant world .. A strange feeling .. Mysterious .. and sweet .. and tiring.
We are nostalgic for the days of the series, just like the series for the forties.
Everything he longs for ..
And what he thinks, lives and remembers, with love, contentment, comfort, or otherwise.
The series features Yahya Al-Fakharani, Hoda Sultan, Hamdi Ghaith, Nabil Al-Halfawi, Athar Al-Hakim, Hala Sedky, Samah Anwar, Wafaa Sadiq, Muhammad Metwally, Sawsan Badr, Tahani Rashid, Ashraf Abdel Ghafour, Mona Zaki, Ahmed Al-Sakka, Simon, Magda Al-Khatib. , Ahmed Badir, Jamil Rateb, Iman.