ATHENS – That the Greek language is celebrated by the Hellenic Diaspora worldwide is not a remarkable thing. Expats have taught their children to hold tight their language and heritage for centuries – but the reverence other nations have for the language of Homer, Plato and…Cavafy is truly something to be proud of.
The English language website of the renowned Arab newspaper Al Ahram spotlighted the celebration of International Greek Letters Day in Egypt with the headline ‘Greek and Egyptian students celebrate International Greek Language Day in Cairo’.
The article noted that, “while celebrating International Greek Language Day in Cairo in front of students from the two countries, Greek diplomatic and cultural figures emphasised the linguistic ties that have bound their country with Egypt and others from antiquity onward.”
The theme of the event presented by the Greek Embassy in Egypt, together with the Greek Cultural Centre and the Greek Schools in Cairo at the Greek Campus of the American University in Cairo was ‘The Greek Language in the Greek Campus’ and “the celebration aimed to highlight the international character of the Greek language throughout the ages,” according to the article.
“Among the speakers were Ambassador of Greece to Egypt Nikolaos Papageorgiou and the Director of the Greek Cultural Centre in Cairo Christos Papadopoulos. The Secretary-General for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy Ioannis Chrysoulakis and the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Katsaniotis also participated, giving online speeches,” it was reported.
Chrysoulakis said, “the Greek language, which is the mother of languages and the foundation of modern civilisation, is the mother and nurturer of pure reason, philosophy, and poetry. After all, that has been fully expounded by the renowned Greek poet, Odysseas Elytis who said: ‘One must not forget that, over the course of twenty-five centuries, there has not been one without poetry being written in Greek.”
He added, “for us Greeks far and wide, the Greek language is even more; it is our identity, our roots, our intangible cultural heritage, the embrace of mother Greece to her children and our point of reference in every corner of the world and our unbreakable bond with the Homeland.”
Papadopoulos pointed out that, “the street had its own story, someone wrote it on the wall with paint…’ says the well-known song of the Egyptian-Greek composer Manos Loizos in lyrics by Kostoulas Mitropoulos. The same is the case with the Greek language in Egypt, which is written in various ways from the depths of the centuries until today, not only on walls but also on floors, antiquities, modern buildings, stones and rocks, which are sometimes carved with art and graffiti, carved into limestone rocks of the desert or written with paint on ancient tombs as evidence of presence.”
He added: “We can find examples in Cairo, Alexandria, Siwa oasis and Minya” – certifying, the article noted, “the presence of the Greeks in space and time.”
According to Al Ahram, “prominent professors from Al-Azhar, Cairo, and Ain Shams universities also attended the event, highlighting the aspects of teaching the Greek language in Egypt. Furthermore, a presentation of video clips designed by the Greek school students was also presented during the celebration along with selections of Greek songs, in addition to poems recited by the Greek school students and Egyptian university students.”