If you haven't caught the bug of the
exploration and traveling and wonder why people do it, then you might
like to read here.
SaharaSafaris is perhaps now the largest traveling community in
Egypt and myself, as a member of it, I feel that the real excitement lies
beyond the 'normal' adventures. Whatever belies there, this website is
part of my trials to discover it. And Hassanein Pasha's motives lie in
the heart of it.
Why Ahmed Hassanein?
This is one side of the desert hard to express
except for the most imaginative. But let's put it this way: Ahmed's
adventure was inspirational!
Ahmed Bey Hassanein is virtually unknown to 21st
century people even in his own native country Egypt. His later truly
career, may have overshadowed this
other side. This site focuses only
on the expedition he did in 1923 in which he made the impressive
discovery of Ouenat.
Ahmed never took up desert exploration
for a career like almost all other European explorers. He seemed to use
the desert for matters like those of some Cairo residents of
today--recreation and perhaps patriotism.
Why All the History Here?
Ahmed was not your everyday's adventurer.
Every single detail in his biography and writings point to a man of the
world with ambitions. Although always with composure, some of his words have
betrayed him and has shown some frustrations and ambitions.
Ahmed wrote: "I allowed the caravan to go
on without me, and for half an hour I remained seated upon a dune gazing
at those hitherto-legendary mountains. For whatever sacrifices I had
made and hardships I had endured, there was full compensation in those
few moments, as I realized that I had found what I came to seek."
I have thought that those "sacrifices"
deserve to be investigated and for such a terribly important political figure of
Egyptian modern history, he must have had a lot of
the World's events on his mind even at this early stage of his career. Understanding
some sides of the world of his days might enable us
to guess those frustrations and ambitions.
Since I am no historian, I've chosen to follow
those guidelines as much as I can:
direct to the point and concise in information
images of important figures or
peoples mentioned in the text
collecting enough info to satisfy my
own curiosity but enough to reconstruct the atmosphere of
keeping my opinions for the
discussions on SSC Forum (discuss).
Were Those Interesting Times?
Most certainly! He was publishing the article
of his world-famous expedition sponsored by King Fuad I of Egypt. Significantly, the country has just got its official semi-independence
from both Istanbul and London. Egyptians, King, Britain, Italy and
France seemed to have been watching what this guy is trying to prove!
The expedition took place in the Libyan
Desert where he met the Senussi leaders resisting Mussolini's
Fascist occupation right before their extermination in the largest concentration camps
ever set in Africa. Egypt was under British occupation headed by
Allenby (Conqueror of Jerusalem). But even more, Saad Zaghlul
has been elected Prime Minister at the first ever direct elections of
the Egyptian Parliament under the new Constitution and is entirely
changing the political stage back home at the same year of this article.
The year (and decade) seems to be overcrowding with more watershed
events than can happen in one's lifetime.
Those --and much more that are presented in the
have helped me to reconstruct for myself the events and the complex emotions
involved in such dramatic time of a person, his country, his heritage and
the troubled world at the time. I hope they'll help you too.
It's worth mentioning here that Ahmed has done
another major expedition before this one. As he mentioned in other
articles he wrote, it was with Mrs McGrath (Rosita Forbes) who asked to
join him with another British gentleman who had to withdraw. She later wrote a book. For some reason Ahmed didn't write any
article directly related to this first expedition. All his articles and
book are about this major one mentioned here.
Another important note is that all what has
survived of his writings about the expedition is in English and not in
Arabic his native language. This may lay in the fact that he
wanted to assert the capabilities of Egypt among other nations'
explorers. It would necessarily means he would have to write extensively in
English. Although it's very reasonable that he must have wrote in Arabic
too, there seems to be nothing survived.
Finally, a note on what he says he has collected.
Hundreds of photos, plenty of footage of motion pictures, and a lot of
tables and measurements taken at the field. His watches, his theodolite
and aneroid barometer. In addition to all sorts of geological specimens,
etc. of scientific information collected. Along with his writings, those
(specially motion pictures) could be very important tools to learn more
about his mysterious personality and the land in which he traveled. It
could show the historical people of the Senussi that he's met too. If
you know any information about that please contact
Why Explorers Are Important For Their People?
Explorers who become heroes have the gift of
fueling the imagination of people. To break the molds of boredom that
has surrounded them and clear the clouds of uncertainty that once
stalled their decisions. To make them a good material of believing. To
inspire... hope and everything. Stories told about the adventures of
Explorers in books, storytelling sessions or now in movies have --for
millennia-- engaged normal people in dreams that are halfway between
possible and impossible. (See
Gilgamesh as an example of travelers/heroes for their nation in the
The quantities of adrenalin pumped during those
stories --if the audience can identify with the hero and see themselves
in his place-- are enough to motivate even the most exhausted people. To
give them energy from unknown sources to go and tackle their challenges
with unlimited patience and reinvigorated minds.
Giza, January 2006.
For more details on credits and
please see the Editors Notes.