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Fatma Moussa
 1927- 2007

 
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Fatma Moussa Profile in French
Fatma Moussa Profile in English

Fatma Moussa  فاطمة موسىProfessor Fatma Moussa was for many years one of Egypt and the Arab world's foremost academics, educators and literary critics.

In her work she constantly built bridges and articulated relationships between the literature of 'the West' and that of 'the Orient'. She wrote accounts of each literature in the language of the 'other' literature. She translated two major works of English literature into Arabic and one major work of Arabic literature into English. She helped, encouraged and educated generations of young people to work in this area of shared culture. Many of these young people grew into positions of influence and power. She herself remained active and influential until her death in 2007 at the age of 80.

Fatma Moussa's academic career started with her work on the influence of the 'Oriental tale' on European literature in the 18th and 19th centuries. She is, for example, a widely quoted source on the history of The Thousand and One Nights and its entry into and influence on European literature.

She then went on to develop another line of academic enquiry: the influence of the European novel on the rise of the novel form in Egypt. As a literary critic writing for the Arab press she wrote widely on both European and Arabic literature. At one point Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz said she was the most perceptive critic to write about his work.

She was, in fact, the first serious translator of his work into English - long before he won the Nobel prize. Her translation of Miramar into English is arguably still the best among all the English translations of Mahfouz's work.

On the other hand, her masterly translation of King Lear into Arabic has been much admired over the years. In April 2002 it was staged by the Egyptian National Theatre to a great deal of acclaim.

In 1998 she was awarded "Ja’izat al-Dawlah al-Taqdiriyyah fi al-Funun wa al-Adab", the highest honour the State can bestow upon an academic.

In her last years she remained full-time active: teaching a graduate course at Cairo University, supervising PhD theses, running a major state-funded program for translation from English to Arabic of important works, sitting on various University and Ministry of Culture academic committees and working hard to establish a serious presence for PEN Egypt.

Affiliations:
1. The Egyptian Writers' Union
2. Egyptian Society of Comparative Literature, President
3. PEN, Egypt, Vice-President
4. International Association of University Professors of English (IAUPE)
5. British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)
6. American Association of Comparative Literature
7. International Association of Comparative Literature
8. International Federation of Modern Languages & Literature
9. The Beckford Society

Career:
1996- Chair, The Committee for Translation, The Higher Council for Culture, Cairo.
1996 - Editor, The Project for the Dictionary of the Theatre, General Egyptian Book Organisation, Cairo.
1994 - Emeritus Professor of English, Cairo University.
1987- 92 Director, Research Centre, King Saud University, Riyadh.
1986- 87 Chair, Dept. of English, Women's College, King Saud University, Riyadh.
1981- 83 Chair, Dept. of English, Women's College, King Saud University, Riyadh.
1981- 93 Professor of English, Faculty of Arts, King Saud University, Riyadh.
1975 Sabbatical leave, St. Antony's College, Oxford.
1972 -78 Chair, Dept. of English, Cairo University.
1972 Professor of English, Cairo University.
1965 Sabbatical leave, King's College, London University.
1958 Lecturer in English, Cairo University.
1954 -57 Full-time Ph.D. student, London University.
1952 Demonstrator, Dept. of English, Cairo University.

Degrees:
B.A. English Language and Literature, 1st Class Honours, Fouad I University, Cairo, 1948
M.A. English Language and Literature, Cairo University, Cairo, 1954
Ph.D. English Language and Literature, Westfield College, London University, London, 1957

Life:
Fatma Moussa brought up three children: Ahdaf Soueif (novelist) Layla Soueif (mathematician) and Ala Soueif (IT systems designer and Egyptologist). She has seven grandchildren.


FATMA MOUSSA-MAHMOUD
PUBLICATION LIST (English)



Theses
1. "Eastern Themes in English Romantic Literature", MA Thesis, Cairo University, 1956.
2. "The Oriental Tale in English Literature 1786-1874", PhD Thesis, London University, 1957.

Books
1. Sir William Jones and the Romantics, Cairo: Anglo-Egyptian Bookshop, 1962.
2. (ed.) William Beckford of Fonthill (1760-1840), Bicentenary Essays, Supplement to Cairo Studies in English, 1960 (available on University microfilm).
3. (ed.) Lady Mary Wortley Montague, Letters From Turkey, Cairo: Anglo-Egyptian Bookshop, 1963.
4. The Arabic Novel in Egypt 1914-1970, Cairo: Egyptian Book Organisation, 1973.

Articles & Chapters in Books
1. "William Hamilton's Aegyptiaca", Cairo Studies in English, 1956.
2. "The Arabian Original of Landor's Gebir", Cairo Studies in English, 1958.
3. "Beckford, Vathek and the Oriental Tale", William Beckford, Bicentenary Essays, 1960.
4. "Orientals in Picaresque", Cairo Studies in English, 1964.
5. "The Republican Ideas of Sir William Jones", Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts, Cairo University, 1972.
6. "Women in the Arabic Novel in Egypt", Bulletin of the Italian Cultural Centre, Cairo, 1976.
7. "A MS Translation of the Arabian Nights in the Beckford Papers", Journal of Arabic Literature, VII Leiden, 1976.
8. "Mme Vaucluse, Author and Femme Philosophe of the 18th Century", Cairo Studies in English, 1978.
9. "Literature as an Element of Unity in the Arab World", British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Bulletin, 1978.
11. "Sir William Jones and Mme Vaucluse", Revue de Literature Comparée, January-March, 1980.
12. "George Eliot's Theory of Literature", Cairo Studies in English, 1982.
13. "Alienation in the Novels of Naguib Mahfouz", British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Bulletin, 1982.
14. ''The Picaresque in the Modern Arabic Novel: a Borrowed Form?", Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts, Riyadh University, vol X, 1983.
15. "New Developments in the Arabic Short Story During the Seventies", British Society for Middle Eastern Studies Bulletin, 1983.
16. "Foreign Influences in the Plays of Nu’man Ashour", Proceedings of the First Conference on Comparative Drama, Publications of the American University: Cairo, 1984.
17. "The Traveller and the Arabian Nights in the Nineteenth Century", Bulletin of the Faculty of Arts, King Saud University, 1985.
18. "English Travellers and the Arabian Nights", Chapter 3 in The Arabian Nights in English Literature, ed. Peter L Caracciolo, London: Macmillan Press, 1988.
19. "The Use of Classical versus Colloquial in Arabic Literature", Comparative Literature Association, New York, 1988.
20. "Naguib Mahfouz: a Profile", Third World Quarterly, London: January, 1989.
21. "The Girl in Green: the Heroine in Three Arabic Novels", BRISMES Conference, Paris, 1990.
22. "Hamlet in Egypt", Cairo Studies in English: Essays in Honour of Magdi Wahba, Cairo, 1990.
23. "A Muslim Pilgrim's Progress: Naguib Mahfouz's Ibn Fattuma", chapter in Golden Roads: Migration, Pilgrimage and Travel in Modern Islam, ed. E I Netton, Curzon Press, 1992.
24. "North Africa & the Middle East", chapter in The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature, London & New York, 1992.
25. "Back to Alf Leila, New Discourse in the Arabic Novel", Shaaban Memorial Conference on Arabic Literature, University of Exeter, 1994.
26. "Changing Techniques in Modern Arabic Poetry: Changing Values?" Proceedings of the Shaaban Memorial Conference on Arabic Literature, University of Exeter, 1996.
27. "Durrell's Alexandria, Tsirkas' Drifting City and the Alexandria of Egyptian Novelists", On Miracle Ground IX: The International Lawrence Durrell Conference, Alexandria, 1996.
28. "A Foothold in Egypt: the Blunts at Sheikh Obeyd". The Arabs & Britain: Changes and Exchanges, British Council Conference, Cairo, 1998.
29. "Where Angels Fear to Tread", Fifth International Symposium on Comparative Literature (Translation), Cairo University, 1998.

Translations
1. Mahfouz, Miramar, London: Heineman, 1978
2. Shakespeare, King Lear, Cairo, 1985
3. Soueif, The Map of Love , Cairo 2001

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Profile by Rania Khallaf

The list of her accomplishments is impressive: books on English, particularly the novel, Arabic and comparative literature; many articles and research papers; the translation into Arabic of King Lear and Henry IV, into English of Naguib Mahfouz's Miramar. From 1972 to 1978, she was head of the English department at Cairo University. Last June, she received the coveted State Merit Award for arts and literature.

Although her life proves her strong, resilient character, she does not like to be described as rebellious. "I am not an old-fashioned woman. I do not easily fit the pattern; I simply do not conform with what I regard as unreasonable."

From the start, indeed, Moussa did not conform at all. She loved reading, but had little love for 'women's work'. "Of course my mother was a housewife, but she was not brought up to particularly feminine training. My grandmother died when my mother was very young; my mother was raised by her father and brothers. She was a very straightforward woman. I was the eldest child, and my parents treated me as a responsible, reasonable, important member of the family. There was no discrimination in our family. My mother did not have set ideas of what women should and should not do, except for morality and not showing off. As the eldest daughter, I learned to do the cooking very early -- actually, at the age of 11 -- and stood in for my mother when she was sick or had to go to hospital, which was quite often. But I did not like housework."

At school, Moussa discovered the love of her life. "I was a voracious reader. It was the only available means of entertainment. We did not go to the cinema or the theatre much. I first went to the opera with my mother, when I received opera tickets as a prize for my high marks at school. Going to the cinema meant that my father would take the whole family, and he was too busy." Moussa's father was a merchant; his shop still stands off Ataba Square. "I went to a very good secondary school, Princess Fawziya; its English library had over 6,000 books. My mother was keen on our getting an education. My father did not object as long as we did not cost him much money, and I always had merit scholarships," Moussa says proudly. So she devoured books from the English library, finding great pleasure free from any sort of censorship at home. No one in the family could read English, "except for my uncle, who lived in Alexandria." A burst of laughter again.

Had Moussa's parents discovered that she was reading novels most of the time, they would have punished her severely, believing as they did that such literature was "a waste of time that spoilt girls", she says. She did not like to go out much. Outings were mainly family visits. She read English, French and Russian novels, travel books, histories -- anything she could lay her hands on.


"My mother came from Alexandria, my father from Upper Egypt. We did not live in an extended family, so they did not have the attitudes and traditions of a typical middle-class family." Moussa was therefore allowed to choose her career. She received top marks in her final exams in English and mathematics, and gained a scholarship, but had difficulty choosing between them. When she plumped for the Faculty of Arts, having decided to become a writer, a friend of her father, who worked in the Ministry of Education, exclaimed: "This is a career for men, not women! Are you going to be an effendi, Fatma?"

Although she graduated with first class honours, the English head of the department, when questioned on the prospect of her joining the staff, said the Egyptian University did not favour the appointment of women to teaching jobs. When the British teachers were told to stay at home for fear for their lives during the uprising of October 1951, with the trouble in the Canal Zone, Dr Rashad Rushdi ran the department. "I was appointed in January 1952, as the first woman demonstrator in the English department. Although I was married and had a daughter, I worked like mad. We all worked hard to prove that we, the Egyptian staff, could do the job. Many new appointments followed, men and women," she remembers.

Mustafa Soueif, whom she was to marry, was a graduate of the philosophy department, and was working on his MA in psychology. Her choice of husband was in line with Moussa's other decisions: "My parents were shocked that we were proposing to get married on very little money. We both knew what we wanted to do with our lives, and I did not care much about a bridal gift or jewellery. My family came round to see my point. They got to appreciate the seriousness of his character, and treated him with affectionate respect. We had a very small flat, with very little furniture and few electrical appliances. We worked hard, and read a great deal. It was certainly not a conventional marriage; when we were newly married, Dr Soueif's supervisor came to our flat for some reason, and found us each sitting in a corner, working. He asked in surprise: 'Do you spend all your evenings in this way?' Like many of our friends, we were trying to establish marital relationships between equals, based on respect, understanding, cooperation and love."

Egypt in the '50s was open to overwhelming changes. Moussa is disappointed, one senses, that this is no longer the case. "Now I see girls insisting on embarking on extravagant marriage plans at tremendous cost, often disregarding the importance of character, education and culture. All this is due to the consumerism and reactionary ideas rampant in society since the '70s. Young people are not prepared to do without any of the comforts they enjoyed in their parents' home."

The couple went to Britain on study leave. Moussa obtained a PhD in English literature from London University in 1957, and Soueif did post-doctoral work, obtaining a diploma in clinical psychology. It was pretty tough, particularly for her, with a small child and another on the way. "But I did it," she says proudly, "and in minimum regulation time, and came home with flying colours, a PhD, a new baby and another on the way."

When questioned about her children, Moussa says they did not necessarily all follow her example. "They have always had the freedom to choose, but they tend to be more sophisticated. My eldest daughter Ahdaf [author of the acclaimed In the Eye of the Sun], would not have started with modest furniture or anything of that sort. She is an artist, and will accept nothing but the best. She would rather go without than buy anything cheap or ugly," she explains. It is the same with her son Alaa, the youngest and "probably the brightest" of her children. "He has a mind of his own, and would not in any circumstances tread the beaten track."

Last June, Moussa became one of the very few women who have received the State Merit Award. Better late than never? "I understand why it has taken so long," she remarks. "I have been away for a long time, working in Saudi Arabia. Besides, in order to receive the award you have to be nominated by an official institution. In my case, it was Cairo University. Usually committee members do not remember their female colleagues. Certainly they would never remember a woman who is officially out of the country. So many women deserve the award, in medicine, literature, science, art... How come a distinguished painter like Gazbiya Sirry has not yet received it? I understand she has been nominated this year. It will be a good thing if she gets it. Lucky for her, it will probably be LE50,000, rather than five."

Moussa suggests that more vigorous campaigning would break those hidden barriers which seem to hold back the nomination of women. Women's organisations, she believes, have shown no interest in this respect. She deplores the lack of solidarity among these organisations. "One would expect that, after almost a century of women's education and repeated calls for their liberation, they would present a more united front."

Her generally outspoken opinions and liberated attitudes, one would imagine, cannot have gone down well in Saudi Arabia, where she was first seconded to teach in 1972, the year Saudi women were admitted to institutions of higher education. "I really had no problems there, but the experience was instructive. I chose not to renew my contract after the first year. But I am proud of the fact that I helped launch higher education for women in Saudi Arabia."

She did return, however, 10 years later, when she took up the post of professor of English in the Women's College of King Saud University in Riyadh. "I really enjoyed the time I spent there. My youngest son had graduated, my daughters were married, and I had the luxury of a little flat in an ultra-modern building all to myself, for the first time in my life. I never lost contact with my university here, and I came home regularly every two or three months for family or cultural events. I could afford to attend international conferences in Europe or the US, and finance any of my children's career or family projects. I would spend the summer vacations in London with Ahdaf and her family."

Ahdaf, her eldest daughter, is Moussa's "close friend"; like her mother, she studied English literature at Cairo University. She was one of Moussa's students, in fact, and would often complain that it was impossible for her to skip classes. She resembles her mother in many respects: "Just before her final secondary school exams, I used to see her reading. Then I discovered that she was reading novels from my library." Another daughter, Laila, teaches mathematics at Cairo University, and shares many of her mother's attitudes and ways of thinking: "She is a strong, outspoken woman, just like her mother." She, too, is a great reader of novels.

Fatma Moussa's numerous projects have not left her satisfied, at any rate. She would like to complete an important work she started during her PhD research, on the influence of Oriental tales on English literature. "I have so much material, it would be a shame not to publish it. But I have been fully occupied with work at the university and at the Higher Council for Culture. Everyone says I should write my autobiography, and I really would like to do so. I promised Ahdaf I would get started on that, after I finish the fifth and last volume of the encyclopedia of the theatre on which I have been working for years."

Books, then, are still her favourite companions. The walls are covered with them, and they seem to creep into all the rooms. There are many, she says, still stored in boxes she brought back from Riyadh. So have they helped her find herself? She looks up in surprise. "I have not been looking for myself. I have been too busy."

Profile by Rania Khallaf
Source: Ahram Weekly
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Profile by Dina Hishmat

Fatma Moussa Elle nous accueille avec la distraction touchante de ceux qui ont l'esprit occupé par bien plus important que le superflu du quotidien. Ceux qui savent la valeur du temps qui passe, ceux qui préfèrent se taper une causette avec les visiteurs de l'improviste que de ranger de la paperasse.

Fatma Moussa a passé sa vie plongée dans les bouquins de littérature et de civilisation anglaises. Elle a traduit Shakespeare – King Lear et Henri IV — Mahfouz (Miramar), etc., a enseigné l'anglais à des générations d'étudiants à l'Université du Caire sans jamais cesser de mener des recherches dans son domaine. « Elle est à la fois enseignante et chercheuse. Elle veut toujours en savoir plus », raconte l'une de ses étudiantes, Radwa Achour. Fatma Moussa a le sens de la mission académique, l'obsession du savoir, toujours plus, toujours plus loin. Elle a à sa matière le rapport d'une chimiste à ses molécules.

Née en 1927 au Caire d'un père saïdi commerçant de mobilier rue Mohamad Ali, et d'une mère alexandrine, Fatma Moussa a eu la chance d'avoir une mère pour qui l'éducation de ses enfants, filles et garçons, était la mission prioritaire. Elle commence à apprendre l'anglais dès l'école primaire. Son premier prof dans cette matière s'appelle Gayd effendi. « C'était un Saïdi et il avait une croix sur la main. Il était pauvre, mais c'était un très bon prof. Quand je suis entrée en classe, je n'ai rien compris. J'ai passé à peu près deux semaines sans rien comprendre. Il n'y avait personne pour m'aider ». Chez elle, à la maison, on ne parle pas l'anglais. « Après j'ai réussi à lire. Je suis devenue la meilleure en anglais ». « En quatrième année primaire, j'ai commencé à lire. Des histoires, comme Gulliver. Je me souviens encore du livre, avec l'image de Gulliver, énorme, qui tirait des navires ».

Elle était déjà une élève suffisamment douée pour que le prof d'anglais l'emmène dans la salle des profs pour la faire lire devant tout le monde. Elle passe son bac au lycée d'Al-Amira Fawziya. « Une école luxueuse ». En classe, elles sont 24, avec chacune son pupitre. Des amphis, un court de tennis, de basket, un compartiment pour les cours d'entretien ménager. Et surtout, la bibliothèque. 6 000 titres, en arabe et an anglais. C'est là qu'elle rencontre Miss Sage, l'enseignante détachée à la bibliothèque. « J'allais la voir tous les jours. Je me suis mise à l'aider, à aider les élèves à faire leur choix, aider à ranger les livres. Je passais ma récré à la bibliothèque ». C'est une période heureuse de sa vie. « I was Very Happy ». Mais déjà, à l'époque, il y avait une discrimination entre filles et garçons. Les garçons passaient le bac en 4 ans, mais les filles en cinq. Elle rit : « Ils nous apprenaient des choses dérisoires : home making, santé des enfants, enfin des choses que nous savions déjà en général ». Prélude à une autre discrimination, lorsque après l'obtention de sa licence à l'université, ils refusent de la nommer assistante. Parce que les Anglais ne veulent pas d'Egyptiens à ce poste — on est en 1948 — mais aussi parce qu'elle est une femme. Alors qu'elle avait obtenu à la fin de ses études secondaires le premier prix en anglais — d'une valeur de 50 L.E., une somme importante pour l'époque —, qu'elle avait choisi l'anglais tandis que toutes ses collègues aussi brillantes qu'elles avaient opté pour la médecine, qu'elle avait été diplômée avec la mention excellent, qu'elle était première sur toute la faculté de lettres. Elle ne veut pas entrer à l'Institut de l'éducation, Maahad Al-Tarbiya, « ça ressemblait au Collège militaire ». On lui propose un poste aux archives. « Pour un salaire plus important, mais ça aurait été une expérience horrible ». Elle veut enseigner à l'université. « On m'a dit que l'université égyptienne ne nommait pas de femmes. Il n'y avait qu'une seule femme chez nous, le Dr Soheir Al-Kalamawi. J'ai protesté. C'est l'élève de Taha Hussein, m'a-t-on répondu. Il y avait une autre enseignante, en latin, qui avait également été nommée par Taha Hussein ». Elle finit alors par enseigner dans un lycée, à Chobra, tout en s'inscrivant en magistère et en suivant les cours de fait particuliers avec Louis Awad auxquels elle a droit grâce à la mention excellent. A l'époque, elle est déjà mariée avec Moustapha Soueif, maintenant psychologue renommé, et a une petite fille, Ahdaf. Il faut qu'elle assure ses heures de cours, qu'elle s'occupe de sa fille, et puis après tout ça trouver du temps pour ses recherches. C'est possible. « Quand on s'organise, quand on est prêt à se passer de sorties, de visites, ce genre de choses, avec l'aide, dans certaines limites, de l'époux ». C'était un couple austère. « Je n'avais aucune activité sociale ni politique tant que les enfants étaient petits ».

Fatma Moussa ne s'était jamais réellement laissée entraîner à la fac par le tourbillon de la contestation anti-coloniale étudiante. Elle regardait partir les manifs de loin. En 1946, le jour où le pont Abbass s'est ouvert sous les cortèges d'étudiants, elle était là. « Mais je ne suis pas sortie de la fac. Je les ai vus casser l'image du roi. Je n'avais pas le courage de participer à une manif et de dire des slogans ». Difficile pour une femme ? « Non, à l'époque, Latifa Al-Zayat était l'une des dirigeantes du mouvement ». C'est autre chose qui l'empêche de s'engager. Elle est sceptique face à des discours qui la laissent sur sa faim, entre autres parce qu'ils sont trop prompts à s'aligner sur la politique soviétique. A chaque fois qu'elle approche des militants de gauche, elle trouve leurs arguments un peu courts. « Je participais aux rencontres culturelles. Je me souviens très bien d'un écrit à l'époque où la Russie avait tenté d'entrer dans un endroit, je ne sais plus exactement, l'Azerbaïdjan peut-être. Quand on leur demandait si ça, ce n'était pas de l'occupation, ils répondaient qu'il y a une différence. Les arguments n'étaient pas convaincants pour quelqu'un qui lit beaucoup. Le bon élève, qui lit beaucoup, ne se laisse pas facilement convaincre par ces arguments banals ». Elle file quand même des coups de main. « Parfois, ils nous demandaient de diffuser des journaux. Bien sûr, pour moi c'était impensable de me mettre au coin d'une rue et vendre un journal ». Elle rit. « Du coup, je les prenais tous, les payais, et les distribuais aux voisins ».

La première fois qu'elle participe à une manif, c'est à Londres, contre la guerre, en septembre dernier. A 86 ans, c'était la première fois qu'elle battait le pavé : « C'est Ahdaf, ma fille, qui m'a emmenée ». Et puis, Londres, ce n'est pas Le Caire. Les manifs là-bas sont plus festives, moins dangereuses. Elle connaît bien la capitale anglaise, elle y a passé presque trois années pour sa thèse de doctorat. Elle vit 1956 là-bas. Elle y passe une année sabbatique en 63, fait de constants va-et-vient en Angleterre. Elle a également fait un long séjour en Arabie saoudite, où elle a vécu douze ans, enseignante à l'université Womens' College of King Saud à Riyad.

Ahdaf Soueif, sa fille, romancière égyptienne qui écrit en anglais, vit à Londres. Elle est l'auteur de The Map of Love (La Carte de l'amour), Aïcha, et aussi de In The Eye of the Sun, espèce de saga autobiographique dans laquelle Fatma est Latifa, Latifa Fatma. « Elle nous a demandé si elle pouvait écrire. Son père et moi nous lui avons dit qu'elle avait toute liberté d'écrire ». Fatma Moussa est aussi la traductrice de sa fille ; elle a traduit The Map of Love, et travaille actuellement à des corrections pour la nouvelle édition, l'ancienne étant épuisée. Elle, la mère, lit le travail de la fille avant la publication, « pendant qu'elle écrit ».

Sans jamais trop s'immiscer dans le travail d'Ahdaf. Elle fait partie de ces intellectuels qui ont su comprendre que leurs enfants avaient droit à une certaine liberté. Qu'elle donne aussi à ses élèves. « Elle me faisait sentir que cette thèse était la mienne et que du coup c'est moi qui en était responsable. Elle ne scomportait pas comme si je devais mettre en pratique l'une de ses théories », raconte Radwa Achour, qui a passé son mémoire de Magistère sous sa direction. Aujourd'hui encore, Fatma Moussa donne quelques cours à la fac, mais exclusivement dans l'enseignement supérieur, ou elle dirige encore quelques thèses de doctorat. « J'aime l'enseignement, mais aujourd'hui les conditions sont très difficiles, quand on a des classes à 180 dans les études supérieures, ce n'est pas possible. Depuis les années soixante, on résiste à l'augmentation du nombre d'étudiants. Oui, l'enseignement doit être gratuit, mais il faut garder le niveau ». Nostalgie de ses premières années de cours ? Peut-être. Elle avait finalement été nommée assistante en 1952, le premier janvier. « Je dis toujours que j'ai été nommée assistante lors d'une vague révolutionnaire. Pas après la Révolution, avant. Ils ont demandé aux Anglais de rester à la maison. Ils ont eu peur que les étudiants ne s'en prennent à eux ». Maintenant, les Anglais ne sont plus là, mais c'est un peu la répétition du même : « Ce qui se passe aujourd'hui, avec les Américains et les Israéliens, on l'a vu nous avec les Anglais et les Français ».

Elle, elle continue son petit bonhomme de chemin. L'adolescente connue pour ses rhumatismes, la jeune fille timide qui portait manches longues et chaussettes en première année de fac est devenue une grand-mère au rire fréquent, qui aime se laisser aller à ses souvenirs, se confier. Parler de ce prof irascible qui ne la laissait pas écrire plus de cinq pages en rédaction ; raconter comment elle a réussi à maîtriser la lecture en français et surtout, parler de ses enfants, Ahdaf, Leïla et Alaa. « Leïla enseigne les maths, la matière que je préférais avec l'anglais, et Ahdaf la littérature. Quelque part, elles sont mon prolongement. Et puis, il y a Alaa, le plus brillant. Il n'a pas voulu prendre la voie académique. Il est ingénieur électronique, mais très cultivé ». Avant de conclure : « L'anglais pour moi était enjoyment ».

Profile by Dina Heshmat
Source: Ahram Hebdo

 

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