Salah Jahin (1930 - 1986) was not only a poet, playwright, lyricist, cartoonist and painter but also used artistic expression to serve his thought. His art and thought always had patriotic motives.
The creative colloquial poetry he composed is considered as the 1952 Revolution’s historical record - hence the title "Poet of the Revolution".
Mohammed Salah el-Din Helmi Bahgat, known as Salah Jahin, was born on 25 December 1930 in Cairo. His father was a judge and the family had to move from one governorate to another. This, however, helped shape his patriotic fervour which was manifested in his attitude towards the Revolution. He graduated from Cairo University with a degree in law.
Colloquial Arabic Poetry
Salah Jahin has had a singular effect on development of colloquial Arabic poetry in Egypt. With Beyram Al-Tunsi(1893 - 1961) the art of writing in the colloquial language attained recognized literary status, but poets felt it imperative to go beyond Beyram's achievement.
To explore a new literary world Fouad Haddad (1930 - 1985) created a colloquial poetry that dared to be not only innovative, but revolutionary. His work legitimized experimentation and the search for new and different resources.
Salah Jahin mastered colloquial writing with ease, producing poetry of a simple and concise nature with a profound effect.
His genius lay in his sensitivity, his ability to tune in to the faintest vibrations of feeling in the world around him, his technical resources developed, his work became more spontaneous in its effects. His themes return constantly to the idea of a society struggling to free it-self from the bonds of the past, thus freeing its literary artists to use new forms of expression.
Jahin’s colloquial poetry bore many interesting features of the cartoons he did. It is mainly characterized by the creative use of lexical items, startlingly intense images and well-planned compact structures. It becomes very dear to every heart once read or listened to. Jahin, thus, set the trend for others to follow.
His quatrains written in 1963 mark the emergence of situation poetry as a genre of modern folk literature. They successfully manifest Jahin’s philosophical viewpoint of life, death, existence, man and the eternal struggle between good and evil. Each of Jahin’s quatrains ends ironically with "Wonders will Never Cease!".
Jahin & Cartoon
Founder of the Modern Egyptian School of Cartoon. The all-round Salah Jahin set standards that are unlikely to be surpassed in the literary and artistic circles. Jahin shone at all the posts to which he was appointed. He was the first cartoonist offered the editorship of a weekly magazine in Egypt. The national awakening that accompanied the 1952 Revolution was best illustrated throughout his poetry, musicals and cartoons.
Jahin’s career in journalism started in the early 50’s. In 1955, he worked as an amateur cartoonist in Rose El-Youssef. One year later, when the first issue of Sabah el-Khair saw the light of day, he turned professional. There, he had the opportunity to shine to such an extent that he was appointed Editor-in-Chief. In 1957, Jahin visited the former Soviet Union, then, wrote a book entitled "A Flower in Moscow" about his impression of the journey. In 1964, Jahin moved to "Al-Ahram".
At the age of 13, Jahin’s immense talent for drawing first appeared. When he was a student in Assuit preparatory school, the art teacher asked his student to draw a picture of a storm in a forest. Jahin’s picture gained the teacher’s admiration and drew his attention to the remarkable talent the little boy possessed. The teacher’s words were a great encouragement to him. His father who was an art-lover always encouraged him to develop his talent. Jahin’s cartoons did serve to highlight vital issues in Egypt and the Arab World as well. He is the founder of the modern Egyptian cartoon school. The brilliant success of Jahin’s cartoons arose out of the fact that he done them in the best interest of the people. Among Jahin’s remarkably innumerable cartoon series were Hashish Addicts, Vigor Coffee-house and the Government Departments.
Jahin & Songwriting
Jahin introduced a wide range of vocabulary that was only used in political articles to songwriting. Among the songs that helped create the revolutionary awareness and stir the patriotic fervour were: "We’re the People", Jahin’s first song written in 1956, "Oh Weapon, Be Ready", "Rebels", "Oh Freedom, Here’s Nasser", "Welcome Battles" and "Paradise is my Country" .
The simplicity and spontaneity of Jahin’s songs which evoke echoes of that cherished epoch in Egypt’s modern history make them remembered for ever. The last song he wrote was" Those are the Egyptians".
Jahin and the Visual Arts
In the film industry, Jahin was a producer, scriptwriter and actor as well. In December 1969, Jahin produced five television musicals, all based on popular folk tales, such as "The Zoo" and "Hashim and Rawhiya". He also wrote the "Ramadan Riddles" for television for several successive years.
As an actor, Jahin played a variety of roles in "No Time for Love", "The Thief and the Dogs", "The Martyr of Divine Love", "The Mamelukes", to name but a few.
He wrote the scripts of the television drama serial "He and She" and of many cinema films - "The Return of the Lost Son", "Be careful, she is Zozo", "Amira My Sweetheart" and "Shafiqa and Metwalli", giving only these as examples.
Jahin also wrote for the puppet theatre. His first production "Hassan the Shrewd" written in 1958 was followed by "A Feddan of Freedom" and "The Devil’s Mill". As nothing succeeds like success, Jahin, then, wrote his remarkably distinguished masterpiece "The Big Night" operetta.
He created most of the children’s television puppet serials favorite characters such as "Shehab el-Din’s Donkey" "Nono the Elephant" and "The Chatterbox". It is no wonder that, in September 1962, the Ministry of Culture assigned Jahin the task of setting up a committee on children’s culture.
In December 1965 Salah Jahin was awarded Order of Science and Arts First Class.