Revolutionary Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm died yesterday at the age of 84. Netizens from across the Arab world mourn his death.
Referred to as Egypt's “Poet of the People,” Negm, whose poems were often chanted at Tahrir Square, the epi-centre of the Egyptian Revolution, spent 18 years of his life in prison. Among them were 11 years he spent behind bars for mocking former president Amwar Sadat's television addresses.
His poem, The brave men are brave, chanted at Tahrir, reads:
The brave men are brave
The cowards are cowardly
Come with the brave
Together to the Square
Negm wrote in colloquial Egyptian, and his words were immortalised in political songs, written for the poor and working class, by Sheikh Imam.
Negm maintained a Twitter account, in which he continued to voice his revolutionary thoughts to the end, often engaging with netizens.
Zeinobia, on Egyptian Chronicles, blogs:
Through his life Negm refused to be the regime's poet insisting to be the voice of the poor and the oppressed and I think this is why he will be remembered more than any poet in our time.
Ahmed Fouad Negm has gone but his poems and songs remain as the words of the revolutionaries not only in Egypt but across the world.
On Twitter, an out pour of sympathy is seen under the hashtag #أحمد_فؤاد_نجم [ar], or Ahmed Fouad Negm.
Egyptian Mahmdouh Hamza writes:
مصر نقصت حته رحم الله أنقي وأصدق الرجال شاعر الثوره الدائمة : احمد فؤاد نجم
— Mamdouh Hamza (@Mamdouh_Hamza) December 3, 2013
Egypt has lost a piece. May God have mercy on the purest and most truthful of men, the poet of the continous revolution: Ahmed Fouad Negm.
Egyptian television anchor Sherif Amer tweets [ar]:
كان احمد فؤاد نجم خصم الرؤساء.مشكلة الرئيس القادم غياب نجم، و حضور أشعاره ينقلها ويرددها آلاف في حضور ملايين. رحم الله من بقى و من رحل.
— Sherif Amer (@Sherif_Amer_) December 3, 2013
Ahmed Fouad Negm was the adversary of presidents. The next president's problem will be the absence of Negm. His poetry will be repeated by thousands in front of millions. May God have mercy on who remains and who had left.
From the UAE, writer Abdulla Al Neaimi adds:
الراحل أحمد فؤاد نجم، يأخذ عليه البعض عدم اتزانه ! ، لكني أراه أكثر صدقاً من آلاف الشعراء المتزنين ! pic.twitter.com/QztsE80LK0
— عبدالله النعيمي (@AbdllahAlneaimi) December 3, 2013
Many accuse Ahmed Fouad Negm of being unstable. I find his views more frank than thousands of stable poets.
Palestinian Azmi Bishara notes:
كان شاعر المهمشين والمظلومين مهمشا، وحين وعي الشعب الظلم الواقع عليه أصبح شاعر الشعب كله. أحمد فؤاد نجم شهد هذا في حياته. فهنيئا له. وداعا.
— عزمي بشارة (@AzmiBishara) December 3, 2013
He was the poet of the downtrodden and those facing injustice and he too was marginalised. When the people realised the injustice they were facing, he became the people's poet. Ahmed Fouad Negm witnessed this in his life.
And Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti says Negm will continue to annoy dictators – through his poetry – even after his death:
أحمد فؤاد نجم. ستظل تزعجهم من هناك. الوداع يا صاحبي
— مريد البرغوثي (@MouridBarghouti) December 3, 2013
Ahmed Fouad Negm: You will continue to annoy them from there. Goodbye my friend
His funeral, in Cairo, was attended by thousands of people. Egyptian blogger Zeinobia compiles a Storify of Negm's funeral here.
Al Jazeera: Ahmed Fouad Negm: Writing a Revolution
Some of Negm's poems translated into English can be found here