28.02.2012 - ODG

The Director-General pays tribute to Egyptian writer, thinker and politician Dr. Sarwat Okasha

It was with great sadness that the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, learned of the passing of Dr. Sarwat Okasha, former Egyptian Minister of Culture, who died on 27 February at the age of 91.

Sarwat Okasha was one of the main architects of the operation to salvage the Nubian temples. Through the call for global solidarity that he launched on 8 March 1960 from the UNESCO podium, he started with Christiane Desroches Noblecourt what would become the first and one of the largest international campaigns to safeguard cultural heritage.

"It's a sad day for UNESCO, and a painful symbol to see the initiator of the Nubia Campaign pass away on the same year as the 40th anniversary of World Heritage, only a few months after the death of Christiane Desroches Noblecourt," said the Director-General.

"This rescue campaign, less than a generation after the Second World War marked a new era of international cooperation. By showing that the protection of these monuments of universal value is our shared responsibility, Sarwat Okasha helped to expand the consciousness of humanity. He cleared the way for the World Heritage Convention," she added.

"Egypt is changing. Its people can remember the Sarwat Okasha’s message and conviction that economic growth and democratic vitality depend also on society’s cultural identity," said Irina Bokova citing Dr. Sarwat Okasha: "We could not but remember that man does not live on bread alone. Both the eyes and the mind of man have an inescapable need for that special stimulus and nourishment that they derive from contemplation of the immortal works of his creative genius".

Former member of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Dr. Sarwat Okasha also received the Organization’s golden and silver medals for his contribution to the safeguard of Abu Simbel and the Nubian Monuments.

<- Back to: All news