A Farewell to Elders


On April 3rd of the year 2021, Egypt created one of the biggest royal rites of passage to eleven kings and queens who once reigned the same land with a different name millenniums ago. I spent a day at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, a place seven kilometers away from my family house that I never grew tired of visiting, where it hosted the royal mummies for the last day, forever, before getting carried away in a parade into another museum to be shown and scrutinised. To be taken away from everything else they crossed the Nile with, and instead be protected by a screen-displayed tokens they were buried with.

I made my greetings to everything else that bid their farewell, to kings and queens who already departed. Who only chose a rite of passage south of the Nile. Who chose to be concealed into an afterlife. Who carved intimate words on walls only their souls will read and recall in their rebirth.

Visiting the Egyptian museum in Cairo, a sanctuary built in the late 19th century as a public outcry to stop the trafficking and theft of so much of our ancients remains in plain sight, often with the forced approval of our governments at the time to archeological missions to Egypt during colonial and post colonial eras. The result of this massive theft campaign is tens of museums across the Global North with hundreds of thousands of our own relics shown and celebrated with no intention of giving them back to our nations.

It makes me wonder if our ancients decorised all those tombs and filled them with their relics of spiritual significance to impress us millenniums later. It makes me wonder If they wanted us to scrutinise their mummified bodies not knowing what sins and good deeds they did in their life.

It is thanks to the fetish of a thief that he only fits as many perfectly made relics as he can on his boat trip back, that he leaves the sculptor’s lines and unfinished works for us to celebrate. I gazed upon the other unfinished Nefertiti’s head, which is believed to be made by the same sculptor millenniums ago. It was the sculptor’s unfinished creation. Celebrated in her homeland.

One of my favourite statements by Nora Al Badri, a German-Iraqi artist, made her project about Nefertiti in 2015, in which she hid a technical 3D scanner in her jacket and went inside the Neues Museum in Berlin. She illegally scanned Nefertiti’s bust. It was her way to deprive the museum of their monopoly and constant rejection of Egypt’s appeals to bring her back to us. Nora coloured a 3D printed bust as a near-perfect replica, then made the rite of burying it as a counter act to the excavation in an undisclosed location, never to be found again.