Cairo, AP—Egypt’s best known satirical poet, Ahmed Fouad Negm, has died. He was 84 years old.
Negm died in the early hours of Tuesday, said his close friend and publisher Mohammed Hashem, director and owner of Merit Publishing.
Known as the “poet of the people” as well as the “protest poet”, Negm’s use of colloquial Egyptian Arabic endeared him to his countrymen who saw in his verse an unvarnished reflection of how they felt about milestones in their nation’s history like the humiliating defeat at the hands of Israel in 1967, the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and the authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak.
Negm shot to fame in the 1970s when his poetry was sung by blind musician Sheikh Imam. The duo, who mostly performed in popular coffee houses and to university students, inspired generations of youth aspiring for change.
He had little formal education. Over the course of his life he took jobs as a house servant and a postal worker. He was jailed for his political views under the rule of former presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat.
“I am not a humble person and I am not stupid. I know I am a poet that has affected this nation,” he once told an interviewer.
He is the father of prominent activist and columnist Nawara Negm, an iconic figure of the 2011 revolt that toppled Mubarak.
His funeral will be held at the historic Imam Hussein mosque in the medieval section of the Egyptian capital.