Egypt Essay

1117 words - 4 pages

EGYPT : The peopleApproximately 32,500,000 people live in Egypt. Peasant farmers called fellahin make up over 60 percent of the population. But less than 4 percent of Egypt's land is suitable for farming. Before the leaders of the 1952 revolution introduced land reform, less than 2 percent of the landowners owned half of the land available for farming. Most of the fellahin were tenants or owned very tiny farms. A man who owned 3 to 5 acres was considered well-off. Now no one is permitted to own more than 50 acres, and the average Egyptian farm is generally much smaller than that. An Egyptian farmer's main tools are the hoe, a simple plow, and the sakia, or waterwheel. The fellah, his wife, and their children all work together in the fields. The dreary routine of their lives is relieved only on a few occasions-the group prayer in the mosques on Fridays, religious feasts, and family events such as weddings or the circumcisions of young boys. A farmer's most valuable possession is the water buffalo, cow, or ox that helps him with the heavy farm work. The water buffalo or ox draws the plow, turns the waterwheel, and pulls the nowraj. The nowraj is a wooden platform mounted on four or five iron disks. The sharpened edges of the disks crush the stalks of wheat so that the grain can be separated from the chaff. The water buffalo or cow also supplies the fellah's family with milk and with calves that can be sold. Very often the fellah shares his house with his animals. This is unsanitary, but it is the farmer's preferred way of protecting them. The theft of an animal could mean economic catastrophe for the poor fellah. The fellah wears a loose, long cotton robe called a gallabiyea, loose cotton pants, and a wool cap, which he makes himself. For special events he makes a turban by folding a white sash around the cap. Flat, yellow slippers complete the fellah's outfit. The fellah, the wife of the fellah, wears dresses with long sleeves and trailing flounces and a black veil, which she sometimes uses to cover her face. On market days and other special occasions the women wear earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and anklets. These ornaments are usually made of beads, silver, glass, copper, or gold. They make a pleasant musical sound as the fellah walks along the dusty lanes of the village. Most of Egypt's fellahin live in the villages along the Nile. The villages invariably look gray because the houses are whitewashed only for important events suck as weddings. The houses are usually small and huddled together without planning. The typical house is made of sunbaked bricks, which keep the indoors cool during the summer. There are only one or two bedrooms, an animal shed and a small courtyard. The bedroom might contain a bed made of wood or iron, but the fellah's family usually sleep on mats made of reeds. The house of a wealthier fellah has a living room and an upper story with extra bedrooms and storage space. The...

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