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Ghobn, an Artist with a mission

Human and homeland are one inseparable identity,” Intesar Abdel Fattah Ghobn

With these words, Intesar Abdel Fattah Ghobn, one of the most iconic figures of Egypt’s contemporary traditional art, described his life journey, with its ups and downs, throughout the past decades.

He emphasized on the artistic dimension and the cultural maturity of Egypt’s identity, which has been integrated into world culture and art, resulting in a wonderful universal harmony. He also noted that, such cultural maturity coupled with the artistic aspect, has made mankind a top priority.

We conducted an interview with the famous Egyptian artist Intesar Abdel Fattah. The following are the highlights of that inspiring interview.

Who is the Egyptian artist Intesar Abdel Fattah Ghobn?

I am an Egyptian citizen who grew up in a family of artistic backgrounds. My father is Abdel Fattah Ghobn, a novelist, and my brother is Hana’a Abdel Fattah Ghobn, a late actor. I fell in love with music and Egypt’s traditional art since I was young, as I was brought up among the voluminous novels and books on culture and art which were shelved on my father’s home library. As a result, I established a foundation aimed at promoting intercultural dialogue, and I called it “Hewar” (the Arabic equivalent for “Dialogue”). Likewise, I established the “Message of Peace” Band. I also work as a Theatre Director, and many of my plays, such as“The Eyeliner Pillow” (Makhadhat Al-Kohl), have received national and international awards.

How did you come up with the idea of establishing the “Message of Peace” Band with its unique cultural and artistic formation? 

The philosophy and the mission of the “Message of Peace” Band are based upon 2 pillars: (i) the preservation of Egypt’s identity and heritage; (ii) the integration of Egypt’s traditional art into thearts worldwide. Art and music promote humanity and tolerance without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, language, or religion, making them the most touching and the most preferable languages to millions of people.

Can you give us a glimpse of the “Message of Peace” Band and the most prominent events it entails?

The band is composed of “Sama’a” Band for Sufi music, which mirrors the Islamic traditional art; as well as the Christian hymns band which reflects the Egyptian Coptic traditional art. This is along with the western forms of music; and the band of Indonesian musicians. I started at the Sama’a Festival of Spiritual Music. Then, the band jointly participated in a music performance with dozens of bands from all over the world at the course of the World Religions Conference, which convened at the Mountain of Moses in the Holy Land of St. Catherine, under the slogan of “Here we Pray Together”. It was such an epic musical performance, where the Christian hymns and the western music blended with Islamic music and traditional art, all in one united voice, giving everyone the feeling that “human and homeland are one inseparable identity”.

Gamal Al-Ghetani, the late Egyptian novelist, nicknamed you as the “talent finder”. Could you tell us about the secret behind this nickname?

I embarked on several tours across Egypt thoroughly scouting unique Egyptian talents to join our band. The purpose was to maintain and preserve Egypt’s heritage and enrich it with more creative individuals. Hence, the Ghouri Traditional Singer Workshop was conducted at the premises of “Wekalet El-Ghouri” Arts Center. I also searched for talents through the touring theatre, where many shows were displayed. By the same token, I traveled to China, Paris, Italy, Germany, India, and Indonesia to look for talents from all over the world, who strongly believe in and are ready to devote themselves to promote the notion of “Art for Peace”.

Dialogue on the Banks of the Nile” was a magnificent experience, reflecting the strong cultural and human relations between Egypt and its African neighbours. Can you give us more details on that project? 

The project was launched in 1990 by the Nubian Drum and Folk Instruments Band, which participated in many concerts around the world. The purpose of the “Dialogue on the Banks of the Nile” project was to promote dialogue between Egyptians and their African continent through music and art. They went on a tour to over 40 African countries, where an artistic and musical dialogue was established between the Egyptian and other African bands and musical instruments, for the sake of promoting peace and love within our African continent.

Every year, you organize the International Festival for Drums and Traditional Art. Could you please shed more light on that festival and the reason for chosing the “Drum” as a symbol for the festival?

The International Festival for Drums and Traditional Art takes place every year at the Citadel of “Salah-Eldin”, “Wekalet El-Ghouri Dome”, and “Al-Moez Street” in Cairo, with the participation of more than 20 countries, including Poland, Colombia, Congo, Palestine, Jordan, Mexico, Indonesia, Armenia, India, and China. In conjunction with Egypt’s presidency of the African Union, the eighth edition of the festival in 2019 has celebrated the African culture and art.

I chose the drums given that they were previously used to call for wars. Yet, now, they are used to call for peace, love, and tolerance from the land of peace to all the whole world under the slogan “Drums Dialogue for Peace”.

Based on the journey of the “Message of Peace” Band, what is the message that you want to convey to the youth? 

Art is a universal language; it always facilitates communication among peoples and accelerates civilizational, cultural, and humanitarian integration. Moreover, Egypt embraces and calls for respecting all cultures, arts, and religions through love, tolerance, and peace.

We work for the sake of every human. We strive to compose a universal symphony where humanity stands as our top priority.