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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Naima Akef: Three Nights that I Will Never Forget


Translated By Priscilla Adum





Translator's Note: This article appeared in Kawakeb Magazine in the July 10, 1956 issue on page 20. 

The title of the article was "Three Nights that I will Never Forget: By the Star Naima Akef".

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo came from the web site, which is now defunct.

Naima Akef



There are three nights in my life that I will never forget because they left behind indelible memories that time cannot erase.

I was raised in an athletic family where all the members practiced sports that required bravery and risk taking. Among the acts that my family owned was the animal taming act, and it was forbidden for the children to go near the animal stables. From a young age I loved horseback riding. I would often take advantage of the fact that my family members were gone, and I'd ride the horses with the trainers. I proved to be quite skillful at riding.

One day, one of my relatives who worked in the troupe told me about how beautiful it was to ride horses in the moonlight. As soon as night fell, I sneaked out into the dark to the horse stables. The first horse that my eyes settled on was a new horse that hadn't been trained yet. I got on the horse and rode out to the fields, enjoying the reflection of the moonlight on the greenery. It was one of those beautiful views of nature.

I rode around on the horse when suddenly, I felt the horse jump up and throw me. Then he ran off to the middle of the field, and all my attempts to catch him failed. I was afraid of what the consequences would be, so I hurried back to the tents that we slept in and tried to sleep, but I couldn't. I was thinking about what would happen to the horse, and what my family would say when they discovered his absence, and what they'd do to me when they found out that I was responsible.

I cried the whole night. In the morning, I sneaked back into the animal stables, and I found that the horse had returned on his own. He was standing there, waiting for his trainer to let him into the stable.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Naima Akef with Rushdie Abaza in the final scene of her 1957 hit movie Tamrahenna.

Naima Akef and Rushdie Abaza



I so very much wanted to work in cinema. I just longed for a big break to get into film because I had complete confidence that I'd be a success.

One day, the producer of a certain company met with me and told me that one of the directors was searching for a new face to play the leading role in one of his films. This producer invited me to do a screen test so he could see my on-screen abilities. We went to the studio one afternoon and they gave me a test.

The cameraman took the film to the developing lab so they could see the result that same night. I went back home and couldn't sleep. In spite of my self confidence, I was fearful about the result of the screen test. So, at 8:00 a.m., I was at the studio door inquiring about it.

This fortuitous event played an important part in my life because the director Hussein Fawzy saw the screen test and he liked it. And as fate would have it, he was the director of my first film. Then he became my husband and my partner in life.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Naima Akef plays finger cymbals in a dance scene from her hit movie Tamrahenna.

Naima Akef



I sang in some of the films that I had the leading role in, light songs. In spite of the fact that I knew I had a good voice that helped me to interpret the music in an artistic manner, and in spite of the fact that some of my relatives as well as friends said I had a beautiful voice, when I recorded my first song in front of the movie microphones I was really scared. So much so, that I asked the band to do five takes, which is a record in the recording world.

It was winter, and the weather was so cold, but I insisted that the technicians finish editing the song so that I could hear it that same day. The techs stayed up until very late, and I stayed up with them. They finished editing the song after midnight, and when I heard the five recordings, I was so happy that I didn't sleep that night from happiness.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: Naima Akef stands with Rushdie Abaza in a scene from their blockbuster hit movie Tamrahenna.

Naima Akef and Rushdie Abaza



About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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