During its Jubilee year Watani has navigated its 50-year-old archive to offer its readers material recalling landmark events and issues the newspaper covered throughout the years. Stories on economics, politics, social affairs, sports, arts, as well as the main causes that Watani defended were reprinted. Issues of Copts, women and freedoms used to top Watani’s agenda for decades, until the cause of the day, citizenship rights, took the lead.
The tour in Watani’s archive illustrated how much the paper has developed in terms of editing, layout and printing techniques, to say nothing of the use of modern technology such as the Internet, picture editing, and graphics. The nostalgia stirred among the older generation of Watani staff could only be matched by the pride of the younger generation in how far Watani has come.
Last Monday saw Watani celebrate its Jubilee in a gala dinner which was attended by a bevy of public figures who had contributed to the paper since it saw the light on
Watani was honoured by the presence of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, who enjoys a very special status with Watani . First because he is head of the Coptic Church, well-loved and respected by all Egyptians, and second because he is an outstanding writer with the largest number of articles contributed to Watani . Similarly, the eloquent articles of Anba Moussa, Bishop of Youth, which cover a wide range of interests have enriched Watani for years and have enjoyed great popularity among intellectuals, Muslim and Christian alike.
We were also happy to host representatives from the Supreme Council for the Press, the Journalists’ Syndicate and Al-Ahram corporation with which Watani has had strong bonds throughout its history, as well as the intellectuals and writers who thoroughly enriched Watani with their insightful works.
From the outset, Watani’s mission was not confined to covering news and events, but went further to disseminate a message of enlightenment and defend values of equality and freedom. It tackled society’s ailments and grievances, sought to raise people’s consciousness and urge them to assume active roles in the community. Moreover Watani worked to raise reader awareness in aesthetics and literature. Throughout its first 25 years, Watani performed as all Egyptian papers did, except for presenting a Christian address and covering the news of the
In the 1970s
Again, over the past quarter century, Watani had to reinvent its message to focus on mending fences between
This mission was fulfilled through such activities as Watani Parliament and the Journalistic Formation Centre. The latter proved that Egyptian youth is innocent from accusations of apathy and fanaticism and showed that encouraging young people to express themselves and discuss their differences would protect society from hatred and extremism. It was an adventure that eventually resulted in amazingly positive effects in terms of raising young people’s consciousness and encouraging values of respect and responsibility among them.
The Jubilee celebration was an occasion to pay back the debt for those who enriched the newspaper with their contribution over a half-century. Watani seemed like an old tree with roots firmly in the soil and branches up in the sky. When any of the old leaves fall off we commemorate them lovingly, and when new leaves grow each spring, we rise to celebrate. Let us hope that the future would carry Watani onto new horizons of creativity and success.