Something Different for the Weekend: Mish-Mish Effendi, Egypt's First Cartoon Star

From MEI Editor's Blog Fri Jan 4 2013, 16:30:00

I like to do something a little different for the weekend, so how's this: Egypt's first animated cartoons began in the 1930s, produced by the Frenkel brothers, and clearly directly influenced by (and imitating) American pioneer cartoons like Mickey Mouse and Tom & Jerry. Their character, Mish-Mish Effendi, is an Egyptian everyman; his lady-love, Baheya, is a belly-dancer (and looks like a direct steal from Betty Boop). ("Mish-mish" means apricots, but he apparently got his name from the Egyptian phrase bukra fi'l mish-mish, "tomorrow in the apricots," a way of saying "never.")

The first Mish-Mish cartoon dates from 1936. They were made into the 1950s, when the Frenkel brothers, who were Jewish, left Egypt for France. You can find a short history in English here, though it is in an English that looks like it's been machine translated.

One that survives complete dates from 1939-1940, ordered by the Ministry of War to support a national defense bond issue aimed at strengthening the Egyptian Army as World War II began in Europe. It's in Egyptian colloquial with some titles in English, but is pretty straightforward for anyone familiar with 1930s cartoon tropes, for those who don't know Arabic. (And this YouTube version is for some reason subtitled in German.)

It's called "Mish-Mish Effendi and the National Defense." Like other cartoon characters in the era, Mish-Mish is used to spread some patriotic propaganda. In part one we see Mish-Mish wooing Baheya, then see her belly-dance (with cameo appearances by bad caricatures of Laurel and Hardy and other celebrities). In the second part, we see Egyptians contributing to the war loan. Then Mish-Mish Effendi goes to war, becomes a war hero, beats the (unspecified) enemy, and gets the girl. It's not up to Disney standards (though a lot of US cartoons have provided inspiration), but it's a fascinating artifact. Parts one and ...

[view whole blog post ]
 See More    |     Report Abuse


You might also be interested in the following news stories:

Zimbabwe:   Minister Threatens to Withdraw Student's Degree for Protesting (news)
New Zimbabwe
30 September 2016

HIGHER and Tertiary Education Minister Jonathan Moyo has threatened to withdraw the degree of student who demonstrated during the University of Zimbabwe graduation ceremony held in Harare Thursday. In ... [read more]

Southern Africa:   Female Farmers Suffer Most in Southern Africa Drought (news)
Al Jazeera
30 September 2016

Southern Africa has suffered through one of the worst droughts in decades and now small farmers face a long hungry season with growing food aid needs until the next harvest. Given the growing ... [read more]

Botswana:   President Khama Rallies Nation to Unity (news)
Botswana Daily News
30 September 2016

President Lt Gen. Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama has encouraged Batswana to strive for even more self-reliance and to build further on the county's developments. In his Golden Jubilee Independence Day ... [read more]



blogAfrica is allAfrica.com's platform to help you keep an ear on the African blogosphere. We draw diverse voices from around the world who post regularly and insightfully about African issues. Bloggers, submit your blog's rss-feed!