In Honor Of Black History: Here’s The Story Of Dr. Maya Angelou, The Civil Rights Activist, Poet And Author In Egypt
In honor of Black History Month, here’s the story of Dr. Maya Angelou, the renown civil rights activist, poet and author who lived in Egypt for almost two years. During her stay in Cairo, Maya Angelou served as an editor for the English language weekly, the Arab Observer. Maya Angelou was originally an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows. All of these achievements span over 50 years in which Angelou has received dozens of awards and more than 50 honorary degrees.
Maya Angelou’s Story in Egypt
When Maya Angelou came to Egypt, she met the civil rights activist Vusumzi Make. They got married and then moved to Cairo. Angelou first started working as an editor for the English magazine Arab Observer, and knew nothing about being a journalist. However, David Du Bois, a journalist in Cairo and stepson of the renowned intellectual W.E.B. Du Bois, introduced her to Zein Nagati, President of the Middle East News Agency. Both Zein Nagati and David Dubois helped Angelou understand the journalism world within Egypt. During her time in Egypt, Angelou was expected to cover African affairs, and was assigned to a room with a library containing hundreds of books in English.
Maya Angelou faced many struggles and difficulties at first. Even Du Bois would tell her that both of them were the only black Americans working in the news media within the Middle East. Sadly, this lead to her next challenge, which was in working daily with men only, all who had never worked with a woman before, except perhaps as secretaries. Truly a fighter, don’t you think?
Referring to the time she had been assigned to the library, Angelou said,”for two weeks I stayed in the room, using each free moment to cull from the shelves information about journalism, writing, Africa, printing, publishing and editing.” She also mentioned in an interview, “I stayed at the Arab Observer for over a year and gradually my ignorance receded.” Angelou learned along the way how to write an opinionated article from Abdul Hassan, whilst Eric Nemes helped by showing her all the layout options.