Amina Taha-Hussein Okada, Chief Curator, French National Museum of Asian Arts - Guimet
“André Malraux said “Culture is not inherited; it is won.” There is nothing more just or true than this excellent, exacting and proactive maxim proffered by the author of The Human Condition, which incites us to effort and self-transcendence and reminds us that a life worth living is nothing other than a succession of battles and victories tirelessly won over oneself and the outside world. For what would a cultural heritage from a secular, even millennial past amount to if it were not claimed as such and constantly revitalized, enriched and heightened by the force of will of current and future generations: nothing other than a dead letter, a wasteland in a soulless, meaningless world.
Culture is certainly a priceless legacy that must not be tarnished or squandered; on the contrary, we must strive relentlessly to make it bear fruit; it is a fertile ground – nourishing and invigorating – from which the peoples of the world draw sustenance so that they may continue to be what they were in the mirror of History and time, in all their richness and fertile singularity. More than ever, in our globalized world that is often lacking in essential points of reference, culture must be perceived for what it is: an absolute necessity, a guarantor of the future of peoples and their humanity in the face of the disorders and ills of the world.
Far from being secondary in view of the crying necessities of existence, culture – insofar as it gives meaning and value to human life and societies – is of essential import. Concerning education and culture, the Egyptian writer and thinker Taha Hussein (1889-1973) did not hesitate to say they were as “essential to mankind as the air and water” that sustain our lives. Founding Rector of the University of Alexandria and Minister of Education, this ambassador of knowledge for intercultural dialogue, who was also my grandfather, led this fierce and enlightened fight for education and culture throughout his life.”