Founder of the Modern Egyptian School of Cartoon
The all-round Salah Jaheen set standards that are unlikely to be surpassed in the literary and artistic circles. Jaheen shone at all the posts to which he was appointed. He was the first cartoonist offered the editorship of a weekly magazine in Egypt. The national awakening that accompanied the 1952 Revolution was best illustrated throughout his poetry, musicals and cartoons.
The creative colloquial poetry he composed is considered as the 1952 Revolution’s historical record - hence the title "Poet of the Revolution".
Mohammed Salah el-Din Helmi Bahgat, known as Salah Jaheen, was born on 25 December 1930 in Cairo. His father was a judge and the family had to move from one governorate to another. This, however, helped shape his patriotic fervour which was manifested in his attitude towards the Revolution. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in law.
Jaheen & Cartoon
Jaheen’s career in journalism started in the early 50’s. In 1955, he worked as an amateur cartoonist in Rose El-Youssef. One year later, when the first issue of Sabah el-Khair saw the light of day, he turned professional. There, he had the opportunity to shine to such an extent that he was appointed Editor-in-Chief. In 1957, Jaheen visited the former Soviet Union, then, wrote a book entitled "A Flower in Moscow" about his impression of the journey. In 1964, Jaheen moved to "Al-Ahram".
At the age of 13, Jaheen’s immense talent for drawing first appeared. When he was a student in Assuit preparatory school, the art teacher asked his student to draw a picture of a storm in a forest. Jaheen’s picture gained the teacher’s admiration and drew his attention to the remarkable talent the little boy possessed. The teacher’s words were a great encouragement to him. His father who was an art-lover always encouraged him to develop his talent. Jaheen’s cartoons did serve to highlight vital issues in Egypt and the Arab World as well. He is the founder of the modern Egyptian cartoon school. The brilliant success of Jaheen’s cartoons arose out of the fact that he done them in the best interest of the people. Among Jaheen’s remarkably innumerable cartoon series were Hashish Addicts, Vigor Coffee-house and the Government Departments.
Jaheen & Colloquial Poetry
Jaheen’s colloquial poetry bore many interesting features of the cartoons he did. It is mainly characterized by the creative use of lexical items, startlingly intense images and well-planned compact structures. It becomes very dear to every heart once read or listened to. Jaheen, thus, set the trend for others to follow.
His quatrains written in 1963 mark the emergence of situation poetry as a genre of modern folk literature. They successfully manifest Jaheen’s philosophical viewpoint of life, death, existence, man and the eternal struggle between good and evil. Each of Jaheen’s quatrains ends ironically with "Wonders will Never Cease!".
Jaheen & Songwriting
Jaheen introduced a wide range of vocabulary that was only used in political articles to songwriting. Among the songs that helped create the revolutionary awareness and stir the patriotic fervour were: "We’re the People", Jaheen’s first song written in 1956, "Oh Weapon, Be Ready", "Rebels", "Oh Freedom, Here’s Nasser", "Welcome Battles" and "Paradise is my Country" .
The simplicity and spontaneity of Jaheen’s songs which evoke echoes of that cherished epoch in Egypt’s modern history make them remembered for ever. The last song he wrote was" Those are the Egyptians".
Jaheen, Visual Arts
In the film industry, Jaheen was a producer, scriptwriter and actor as well. In December 1969, Jaheen produced five television musicals, all based on popular folk tales, such as "The Zoo" and "Hashim and Rawhiya". He also wrote the "Ramadan Riddles" for television for several successive years.
As an actor, Jaheen played a variety of roles in "No Time for Love", "The Thief and the Dogs", "The Martyr of Divine Love", "The Mamelukes", to name but a few.
He wrote the scripts of the television drama serial "He and She" and of many cinema films - "The Return of the Lost Son", "Be careful, she is Zozo", "Amira My Sweetheart" and "Shafiqa and Metwalli", giving only these as examples.
Jaheen also wrote for the puppet theatre. His first production "Hassan the Shrewd" written in 1958 was followed by "A Feddan of Freedom" and "The Devil’s Mill". As nothing succeeds like success, Jaheen, then, wrote his remarkably distinguished masterpiece "The Big Night" operetta.
He created most of the children’s television puppet serials favorite characters such as "Shehab el-Din’s Donkey" "Nono the Elephant" and "The Chatterbox". It is no wonder that, in September 1962, the Ministry of Culture assigned Jaheen the task of setting up a committee on children’s culture.
In December 1965 Salah Jaheen was awarded Order of Science and Arts First Class