Thursday, 9 February 2017

Heikal… unexpected talk

The first annual anniversary since Mr. Muhammed Hassanien Heikal left us is about to come… He did not like – and sometimes even mocked – worshiping the individual and turning humans into myths because that will consequently require the existence of priests and dervishes who live or make living from such myths... Those people can even make up or invent what does not exist at all without feeling guilty or afraid that someone may expose them… The man; Mr. Heikal, had a distinguish ability to recognize all those; the one pretending to be educated, the ignorant, the informer, the one who makes living out of such myths… He was also capable of recognizing the intellectual, talented and all others… Moreover, he was able to keep all those around him and employ them in the right way.

After almost a year since he left our world, I went through some of his books and writings. The last thing issued in such regard was the third part of the volumes containing his articles titled “Besaraha” he used to publish in Al Ahram newspaper. The volumes are published by Al Ahram centre for translation and publishing. Such effort is attributed to Al Ahram, the centre and the stuff working in it.

On May 25th, 1962, Mr. Heikal wrote his weekly article titled “Nation… its role in making the hero and hero role in the nation’s life… one night talk on the Adriatic shore”.

In that article, Mr. Heikal narrated what happened when President Nasser came back from Yugoslavia, the dangers that surrounded him and Nasser’s decision to head to Moscow. He also talked about the role Dr. Muhammed Fawzi played in that scene. I excerpt the following part from his article, such part I believe is very important in our current political and historical scene. Heikal wrote:

“the ability to stay true and honest is the most difficult thing for those who make it to the top of the power… since they have a lot of illusions spinning in their heads… they are also surrounded by the fancy atmosphere of power… that dazzling sparkling ambiance that make them live in an imaginary mythical atmosphere… however, Gamal Abdel-Nasser had the ability to stay true...

… out of this ability to stay true, Nasser could – while his nation regarded him like no other nation did with their leaders – talk about the collective leadership as a restraint to prevent the individual from going astray in power illusions”.

After that, Heikal wrote what I think are very important lines to remember because they are close to the philosophy of history:

“the worst tragedies in the nations’ history happened when they forget the real meaning of the hero’s role in his nation’s history… that deceiving illusion about the individual’s greatness or immorality led many nations to certain damnation because the hero role in the nation’s history went out of its real limits… he forgot his role and went looking for his personal glory…

… In some phases of the nation’s history, the hero is a necessity. However, the hero is not above the nation, otherwise there would be a fatal tragedy… Nations make heroes out of long sufferings of pain and danger… and the hero’s mission is to guide his nation to hope and security… meaning that hero is the bridge the nation crosses from pain to hope, from danger to safety… this is the real mission of the hero in his nation’s history… this is what determines his worth… and in case the hero forgot his true role, he transforms from a bridge into an obstacle standing in his nation’s way to achieve progress… in such case, the nation has to destroy that past-time hero and move him out of its way in order to keep moving forward because in such case the hero turns into a false idol…

… The hero is a tool the nation makes in a certain time of its history, especially the time of pain and danger… such time necessitates that an extraordinary man shall talk command of the nation in order to make decisive decisions… such ability to be decisive shall be inspired by the nation and its potent power, otherwise the hero would be alienated from the power that first made him…

… At the time of crises, the nations need more than what an ordinary man or usual state institutions can provide… and here comes the necessity of the hero role even in the most democratic nations…”.

Dear reader, this was written in 1962 when Nasser was at the zenith of his glory as an international, Arab and Egyptian leader… I ask you to read it more than once because – as I said above – it is close to the philosophy of history and the historic role of the hero or individual… this issue may have to do with the reality of many countries in our present time.

After this philosophical and historical analysis, Mr. Heikal gave an example of Winston Churchill in the life of the British nation in 1940. At that time, pure materialistic evaluation for the situation for any ordinary man heading the British cabinet required that he should surrender to Hitler… as the German forces, under the leadership of Marshal Von Buch, invaded Poland in days… and German armored vehicles advanced and was able to siege Maginot line and occupy Holland, Belgium and Luxemburg in hours… then the German army went forward by the genius German war generals like Rommel and Halder and made France kneel asking for peace”…

Mr. Heikal continued focusing on the tyranny of Germany and Hitler and how the Germans invaded Europe and made the Soviet Union make a non-aggression treaty with Hitler… at that time, Britain seemed – due to all those circumstances – to be obliged to surrender… however, connected to his nation’s soul and potent power, Churchill was able to feel that his nation possessed an extraordinary power to face such extraordinary circumstances… he then said his very famous quote: “we will fight on land, sea and air… we will fight on the coasts and fields… we will fight in the streets and homes”… that loud shout was the decisive moment when ebb started to turn into tide”.

At this point I stop to honor the first anniversary since Mr. Heikal left our world… that anniversary will be on Friday, February 7th… however, I may come back later and excerpt some of the wealth of his wisdom.

Translated into English by: Dalia Elnaggar

This article was published in Al Ahram newspaper on February 9th, 2017.

To see the original article, go to:

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