Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXXII. A Return Visit (1 of 15)

Forty years after I departed, I finally decided to revisit my native country

Despite the fact that we had signed a declaration stating that we could never come back, many Second Exodus Egyptians did go back for a visit. It was 1956 when that requirement was imposed on us; but by the 1990s, many things had changed: There was peace with Israel; Egyptian society was (in relative terms) more liberal and open, and visiting Egyptians were welcomed back, albeit not necessarily with open arms (at least based on my own experience); finally, Egypt needed the foreign exchange and the tourism revenue.

1956 was really light-years away from 1996 (the year I visited). Therefore, my original declaration was for all intents and purposes null and void. I know that I had no trouble getting a visa from the Egyptian consulate in Ottawa.

I planned to visit Egypt for 3 weeks, and from there go to Israel for another 3 weeks.

There was so much to see and do, I used most of my waking hours, to reacquaint myself with my native country. I will describe as much as I can what transpired during my brief sojourn in Egypt.

In many cases, I used guided tours; in other cases, since I knew the language, I visited on my own.


My travel agency in Ottawa (Intra Madison Travel) arranged for me to visit Pharaonic Cairo and St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai with a private guide and car. Why a private tour? The official reason given was that it was safer this way. I didn’t buy that, but I accepted anyway, for the cost was still amazingly low.

For a variety of reasons, the visit to the Monastery proved impractical. Khaled, the Group Coordinator of the corresponding travel agency in Cairo (Touring Club of Egypt) suggested instead to visit Ismailia and the Suez Canal; drive through the part of the desert that had been transformed into agricultural land; and finally, visit the famous Bar-Lev line. Of course, I readily consented for this was a better deal.

One more point. For a tourist, Cairo includes Pharaonic Cairo, and Islamic Cairo. My arrangements with the travel agency were for Pharaonic Cairo only; Islamic Cairo was more difficult to arrange from Canada, but could readily be arranged in Cairo. Indeed, it proved easy to arrange this part of my visit.

Pharaonic Cairo

The age of the pyramids

Until 3,000 BC, Egypt was in effect two separate entities: Upper and Lower Egypt. Menes reunited the two Egypt and established the I Dynasty. Menes may or may not have been an actual person, he may represent a group of existing rulers, and the struggle to reunite the two Egypt may have gone on for generations.

Tombs during the I and II Dynasties, gradually gave rise to the age of the pyramids.

Below ground these tombs were built like houses, they were rectangular and divided into chambers. Above ground they had a low flat-topped shape with sloping sides. They were referred to as mastabas.

During the reign of Zoser, in the III Dynasty, the first pyramid saw the light of day. I should emphasize that that was not due to technological advances (the lever was used, but the wheel and pulley had yet to be invented), rather it was the peace and stability that reigned over the nation that made such an achievement possible.

Zoser’s tomb started as a stone mastaba that was enlarged twice. On top of this mastaba, gradually smaller mastabas were built. Voila! You had the Step Pyramid of Saqqara.

This first revolution was followed by a second one, and it culminated in the pyramids at Giza. Egyptian history is so vast, we may be tempted to ascribe an enormous amount of time between Zoser’s pyramid and Cheops’s pyramid. Not so. Only some 75 years separate the two! Indeed, the age of the great pyramids was over within 200 years!

Do not be fooled by the short time span that separates the pyramids; like anything thing else, it was a trial and error process.

Future pyramids aimed at the pyramidical form we are acquainted with, did not always meet with success. The pyramid at Meidum was the best example. It collapsed near the moment of its completion, and this was followed by further collapses! It was built for Snofru, a King of the IV Dynasty. So where was Snofru going to spend eternity? Not to worry! He had three pyramids built! But why?

It is a fact that more pyramids were built during the IV Dynasty than there were Pharaohs to fill them. The reason is the scale of the task. You cannot begin building a pyramid when a Pharaoh starts his reign, you don’t know for how long he will reign. Thus, pyramid construction was continuous and independent of whether or not there would be enough Pharaohs to fill them.

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