The Return of a (Camp) Icon – Why Sherihan’s Story Matters, Especially to Us

By: Neda Elewa

Chapeu, we’re in tears.

That’s the least I can say. I fiercely applaud the production team for this year’s Vodafone commercial. The music, the performance, the dresses and the choreography – every single thing. That’s art, true real art that suits the occasion very well: the return of Sherihan. Welcome back queen.

Sherihan of Fawazeer Ramadan and Share’ Mohamed Ali, or that’s how most of us know her, is back and with a story – her story, one that needs to be told. For a fact, I do know that many outcasts of the likes of us looked up to her, to what she achieved and the aura around radiated. We love you Sherihan, and we couldn’t be happier that you’re back to represent what we had to cease acting out. The most sincere thank you will not do you justice. During her absence things have changed, and the way she took the world by storm, twenty seven years later, is a wonder for us to marvel at.

We didn’t grow up watching her, and that’s a shame. So, who was Sherihan and why does her story matter?

Sherihan is a professional dancer, actor, singer, lawyer and a politically vocal and woke nationalist. This Ramadan, she made her first appearance after a break that lasted around thirty years. Through her performance in Vodafone’s ad this year, a story was told through choreography and dances. Her feelings were depicted by the colours, music and moves at the times she hit rock bottom and floated on clouds of success and joy.

The ad starts with the music of the 80s’ fawazeer: Alf Leila W Leila, literally walking us through the timeline of Sherihan. Slowly and smoothly, the atmosphere transitions, becoming darker gradually to show us the traumatic car accident she’d been involved in that delivered her to surgery rooms and made her a frequent visitor to hospitals. This all was coupled with her struggle with cancer. She leaves the hospital, and we can see joy slowly taking over as her style changes, hinting at her fashion show of November of last year. How can a woman manage to break the glass ceiling of society and succeed, breaking the obstacles set by circumstances? The answer to this question is not one in our possession, and it’s not in the possession of any media outlet, at all.

It’s not about the fact that she’s back, it’s rather about how she made her way back to the screen and what she means to many of us. She gave us hope: the lyrics walk us through a rising phase, climax phase, a decline phase and then a final rising phase. We, as gen-z, often feel like we are not allowed a break and that one small fall can cost us what we spent our whole lives working for. These feelings are bottled and vaulted for their expression of emotions would make us subject to the classic ‘oh, you’re too young for this’ or the ‘you’ll never fail, no worries’. In a way, Sherihan’s story expressed our fear of failure and painted through our eyes. I’m struggling to come on terms with the fact that she’s now liked within the gen-Z community though she was a part of millennials and gen-X’s childhoods.

Enough talking about the 2021 Sherihan; do you remember the Fawazeer Ramadan Sherihan and what she really symbolised? She represented what we now fear to utter through her choice of colours, dances and dresses. Her flamboyancy, courage, and camp-y spirit. Here’s to the return of a woman that can set us free from ‘Egyptian Family Values’.

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