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Prvačina / Gradišče nad Prvačino

28 July 2024


6:00 p.m. exploration of the middle Vipava Valley including a visit to the Prvačina Alexandrinke Museum with Tina Krog and Andrejka Humar; departure from the Spominski park in Gradišče nad Prvačino - Gradišče nad Prvačino 95, 5292 Renče-Vogrsko

8:30 p.m. Egyptian-style refreshments provided by the local community at the Spominski park in Gradišče nad Prvačino

9:30 p.m. start of the performance at the Spominski park in Gradišče nad Prvačino

event language: Slovenian

information: +386 30313488

thanks to: Društvo za ohranjanje kulturne dediščine Aleksandrink, Andrejka Humar, Tina Krog

“The term aleksandrinke refers to all of the women from the Gorizia area, mostly Slovenian but not only, who, between the second half of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century, moved to Egypt, mostly to Alexandria, to serve as milk nurses, nannies, cooks or waitresses..." Andrejka Humar, one of the managers of the museum dedicated to the aleksandrinke in Prvačina, tells me.

“The journey by sea from Trieste with Lloyd's Ships lasted three days and three nights. Most of them ended up serving in the wealthy European families of the various entrepreneurs and businessmen who had arrived in Egypt following the opening of the Suez Canal. But some of them, and this is the case of many women from Gradišče, near here, even ended up in the apartments of the Egyptian royal family. Around here their story has often been compared to the medieval legend of Lepa Vida, the beautiful Slavic girl kidnapped by the evil Saracen who, aware of the fact she would never be able to see her loved ones again, prefers to commit suicide by throwing herself into the sea. In reality for many it was a positive experience, and the real trauma came once they returned to their homeland. The experience of a relatively greater freedom gained over there, often clashed with a much more restrictive patriarchal world.” 

When I hear the story of the Gradišče women in the apartments of the royal family I jump up, suddenly remembering that Muḥammad, the poet protagonist of our performance, Muḥammad born in a Palestinian refugee camp just outside Aleppo, actually descends from a secondary branch of the Egyptian royal family... amazing! And we are here today in the place from where other migrants before him left to go work as servants right in Ras atTīn's palace, right in his house...

The sun has started to set, the Karst beyond the Valley is a blackish blur, ablaze with fire. Suddenly I remember that a few months ago, while I was walking in the same fiery sunset in Hammām aḍḌahab street in Alexandria, Egypt, looking for the site of the Red Barrack, the anarchist hideout frequented by Ungaretti in his youth, the muezzin of the mosque next door surprisingly started singing a verse from sura 4, the sura of women.