Two years ago the uprising in Egypt made headlines all over the world. The recurring chant of Salmeyya (peaceful) that reverberated through Tahrir Square reminded many of the non-violent message of Ghandi. It also was the inspiration for the poster design contestorganised by the Indian embassy in Cairo.
An exhibition of the best entries opens tonight after an awards ceremony. Daily News Egypt spoke with Indian Ambassador Navdeep Suri; the man whose vision led to a contest that drew submissions from India, Egypt, and other African countries.
Ambassador Suri watched the images of the uprising in Tahrir Square from Delhi and was struck by the chants of salmeyya.
“The message resonated with me and I felt I was watching Ghandi’s principles being played out in Tahrir Square,” ambassador Suri said.
“After I moved to Cairo and saw the images of people holding up banners with Ghandi’s sayings I realised that what I had intuitively felt was shared by many Egyptians.”
Inspired by the message of peaceful resistance during the revolution, the ambassador launched a poster design competition on 2 October, Ghandi’s birthday, called Did You Sense the Spirit of Ghandi in Tahrir Square?
“I wanted to achieve two things with the contest, I wanted young Indians to think actively about what had happened in Tahrir Square during the uprising and I wanted young Egyptians to actively think about Ghandi’s message.
“The revolution in Egypt was unique in that it was predominantly peaceful which gave nobody the excuse to use force. We passionately believe in the endurance of the message of peace and the universal appeal and endurance of Ghandi’s message.”
When the contest was announced the team at the embassy was not sure what the response would be. “We have a great team at the embassy and we used our network and social media to announce the competition and the response has been overwhelming,” said Ambassador Suri. “We received 85 entries from Egypt, 75 entries from India and several entries from other countries like Ethiopia.” Because of the appeal of the contest a third category for schoolchildren was added to the contest.
Ambassador Suri hopes that the messages on the posters will serve as a reminder of the days of the revolution. “It is a gentle way to remind everyone that a peaceful and non-violent approach is best.
“All that has been happening in Egypt has been relatively peaceful, especially in the context of the violence in the region and the rest of the world and it is important to focus on the positive. The contest and the exhibition are a tribute to the spirit of the revolution.”
Poster design by Egyptian artist.
Courtesy of the Indian Embassy in Cairo
A jury consisting of Salah El Meleigy, head of the Fine Arts sector, the artist Mohamed Ablah from Egypt and Sudhir Horo, head of a leading Indian design firm have judged all entries based on a strict list of criteria. All entries were given a number during the judging process to ensure anonymity of the designers. The exhibition will feature the best entries of all three categories; divided over 25 Egyptian entries, 25 Indian entries and 10 designs based on the drawings of the children.
The first prize in the Egyptian category is trip to India that includes a workshop at India’s National Institute of Design and second, third and fourth place will receive EGP 3,000, EGP 2,000 and EGP 1,000 respectively. The prizes in the children’s category are EGP 3,000 for first place, EGP 2,000 for second place and EGP 1,000 for third place.
The images of many of the posters are powerful and inventive, they are visually strong, different in approach but they make a cohesive exhibition. There are plans to display the exhibition during future activities organised by the Indian embassy throughout Egypt, and when an appropriate occasion presents itself the exhibition will travel to India as well.
The amount of entries and the overall quality of the work has been a pleasant surprise. “We had no idea what to expect but the response has been great,” ambassador Suri said. “It reminds us that we are not that different and proves once again that salmeyya is not fashionable, it is the truth.”