Greeks recall their childhood memories in Egypt
A lot of Greeks and Cypriots lived in Egypt for decades; however, for several political, economic and social reasons, they left the country and headed back to their homes by the end of the 1970s. The impact that Greeks left in Cairo and Alexandria, in particular, is still noticeable through the buildings, architecture, famous stores, music, cinema, literature and unforgettable memories.
Egypt Today interviewed two of the Greeks who managed to stay in Egypt during the past decade and chose not to travel back to their homes even after the end of all European wars.
Khawaja Philip - et
Khawaja Philip (as called by Egyptian friends) said that he was among the first Europeans who got the Egyptian nationality shortly after arriving in the country. “I remember everything about this period. During the war, Greece was going through an economic crisis that forced many of the nationals to flee the country searching for better opportunities. About 400,000 Greeks left the country then, including me and my father,” Philip recounted.
“I’m proud that I’ve lived my whole life in this country and I will never leave it until I die. When everyone left during former President Gamal Abdel Nasser's era, I refused to leave, and I never will. My whole life, friends and family are here,” Philip added.
Roxana is another Greek who refused to leave Egypt when everyone else did. “I was named after Alexander the Great’s wife. When I grew older I loved it even more, because it reminds me of Alexandria’s history; my beloved city, and where I lived my whole life,” She said.
Roxana - et
Like Philip, Roxana was born along with her sister in Alexandria, Egypt, after her mother’s arrival. “Now we go to Greece as tourists, we spend a couple of weeks and come back to Egypt,” She said.
Roxana described Egyptians as “Kind and different”, adding that she and her family have real good ties and relations with everyone, and that she doesn’t feel like a stranger or a foreigner in the country. “I even cook Egyptian food more and better than any other kind,” Roxana added.
Last May, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos inaugurated the Roots Revival Week in Alexandria city, with the participation of both the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt.
It was considered to be the first initiative of its kind, which aims to recall the memories and heritage of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus. According to Egypt’s Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, this program aimed to salute everyone who once lived in Egypt and left a positive impact and human heritage that still lasts until now. “Everyone was always welcomed to come and live in Egypt and they still are,” Makram said in statements to media outlets.
CAIRO - 30 April 2018: Egypt, Greece and have historical relations that have been documented in music, cinema and literature for several decades. For a whole week, starting Monday, under the title "Roots Revival Week", the three countries are going to recall their memories through several events.
The communities’ members visited several historical and important places around Egypt, including Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Ras Al Tin Marine Base, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Greek Cemeteries, Alexandria National Museum, Cavafy Museum, the Monastery of St. Sava and the Arab Academy for Science and Technology in Alexandria. They also headed to Cairo and Giza to visit the Pyramids, and to Sharm El-Sheikh to visit the monastery of St. Catherine.
CAIRO - 30 April 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his Greek and Cypriot counterparts, Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Nicos Anastasiades respectively, have inaugurated the Week of Revival of Hellenism in Egypt during a celebration in Alexandria on Monday. The celebration is presented by both of the Greek and Cypriot communities in Egypt, along with several officials and celebrities.