1917: Lenin and the Russian Revolution, Third World Style.

In 1968, in Cairo, a new journal started. It was called Afro-Asian Writings and was designed to be a continuation of the Afro-Asian Writers conferences that had been held every few years since the first one in Tashkent in 1958.

Its headquarters were at 104 Qasr al-Aini Street in Cairo (Nida Ghouse has written a great series of articles about visiting the old offices of the magazine).

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It was designed to offer a space for writers from Africa and Asia to publish new writing, without the colonial politics of so much publishing.

Here is a larger mission statement:

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It was based in Cairo and (in 1970 at least) the main editorial board was Egyptian. However, they had an advisory committee that stretched from Japan to South Africa.

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Their content really did come from a wide range of places as these few samples show:

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As well as writers from the Third-World, there is a significant contingent of Soviet writers. The magazine was funded by the USSR and, like many intellectuals in post-colonial countries in the 1960s and 1970s, the contributors were largely pro-Soviet (sometimes Soviet educated).

This year there has been a lot of coverage of the 100th anniversary of the 1917 Revolution in Russia but there has been relatively little coverage of its legacy in the Third World (this exhibition on Tito is a possible exception) and very little on its legacy in the Arab World, which was extremely important.

Lotus magazine, however, was not going to let an important centenary pass it by and in 1970 the produced a special section on the centenary of Lenin’s birth.

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This section included articles and short stories by Soviet writers and an article on Lenin by the Egyptian Ghali Shukri. However, mostly it seemed to contain Arabic poems (here translated into English) in praise of Lenin and the October Revolution. I reproduce a few here.

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These poems (if sometimes slightly clumsy) are by supporters of Lenin from across the Arab World and further afield. The October Revolution is one of the major themes that comes up, along with Lenin’s tomb. They offer a small glimpse of the impact that this revolution had on the intellectuals of the Arab World.

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