Prince Claus Fund is dedicated to the accomplishments made in the fields of culture and development. Every year 11 people or organisations receive the award for tangible cultural development they bring to their societies. The fund considers having a mature cultural environment a basic need. Therefore, it supports artists and cultural entities in areas where “freedom of expression is restricted by conflict, poverty, repression, marginalisation or taboos” according to the prince Claus fund official website. Since it was established in 1996, it has backed more than 2500 cultural initiatives, and the award is given to 186 cultural achievers worldwide. This year, as announced on 6 September, the Principal Prince Claus Award will be given to the Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm.
Ahmed Fouad Negm, the poet of the people, is a popular and a favourite advocate of the rights of the marginalised and impoverished people. He is considered a good perceptive of the local working class Egyptian culture and sufferings. Negm has been a social and political critic for long decades. He is most renowned for his significant use of the colloquial language in his poems delivering this Egyptian sense of humour while portraying peoples’ disappointments. Negm is loved not only in Egypt but in the Arab world.
Negm has been criticising the Egyptian regimes authoritarianism since 1960. He expresses the Egyptian rage on the regimes’ abuse of power, oppressing, corruption and impoverishing people. He does this through his simple, hilarious and deep words. Negm not only attacks suppressing rulers, he also encourages and inspires people by spreading hope in his poems reassuring them that they can overcome any tyranny.
Furthermore, Negm, via his vernacular language, ensures essential rooted principles. The ethnic and religious diversity is from the major issues Negm asserted in his works; reminding Egyptians of their unity, and peacefully co-existence since the beginning of history. Negm is an open-minded and intelligent poet, who has the gift of delivering benevolent messages to the world, and who knows how to reach the least expected people o read any poems, the simple poor and illiterate Egyptian local people.
His poems are craved in the minds entire generations, and even memorized by youth who use them in expressing themselves in street chants or graffiti. Negm is given the award for struggling to maintain the local culture of the people during hard times, as well as fighting through art by calling for freedom of expression and social justice.
Ten other artists are to be given the award with Negm. This event will take place in the presence of members of the Dutch Royal Family at the royal palace in Amsterdam.