About Ossama Kamal "OK"

Ossama Kamal was born on the 14th of August 1962 in Cairo, on the fringe between late night and early morning.

When he grew to be four years old, his family moved to Alexandria, though it was never meant to be this way.

The very first six years of school were spent at EBS along with his two elder brothers "Ahmed" and "Sherif", however; they passed along without leaving much impact on him. As he was getting ready for preparatory school, his parents made a big change taking him to continue his studies at Victoria College. On the very first day, Ossama was wearing a white jacket and he had quite a long hair! It was early 70's that was the fashion then. Victoria College days were great ones for Ossama. He was a very quiet and decent kid, his teachers used to love him; he was never the class nerd, though. He used to paint, write, play sports, act, and read out poetry. He was also in charge of the School Radio.
He had many people around him but all along he wanted to be loved. It was his days at the club (Al-Itehad Al-Sakandary) that started him playing Basketball and Boy-Scouting.
When he was still a kid and during Ramadan; his mother and father had the habit of going there every night after breakfast.

He would then go wandering alone till he reaches the basketball playgrounds and keep on watching all the players while training. He did that every night, until one time, the Coach asked him if he would like to join the basketball team. And that was the kick-off.
However; Ossama faced some problems at the beginning, when his coach complained he was very short and skinny. At the age of 14, he sensed that problem as he compared himself to the guys around him. He had to compensate that, so he trained a lot on his own; about 7-8 hours everyday, going to any place meant only one thing … running.

Though there was always this kind of discrepancy between life in Victoria College and that of the club, Ossama was one active student at school.
He was fond of acting, and so he was always performing the main roles in famous plays; He was Hamlet, Macbeth, and Iago. There was also Camelot, one of Ossama's favorite stories. Still he was much more comfortable with the guys at the club, it wasn't too much arrogant.

He was a boy scout and he took that seriously. The first time he went camping, it was inside the club and he was only nine years old. His mother went extremely angry, she never allowed any of the three boys to stay out late, let alone spend the night away. During these days of Boy-Scouting, they used to go to places like "Alamen" and "Marsa Matrouh", but they were not as crowded as they are now. Camping trips grew to be a habit that encouraged him, later on, to go to Germany to join a school there where he learnt lots of stuff like mountaineering and wild water rafting. Among the people he met in Alexandria and whom he never forgets, Ossama remembers Mary Lewis. She was an old Greek Fortuneteller; one of his friends told him about her and he went to see her. Strange enough, Mary Lewis seemed to do well in clairvoyance, she told him many things, which became true later on. Reverend Howard Levett is also one of the people who left their mark upon Ossama. Howard was one British friend of Ossama whom he met during the performance of one of the plays in Victoria College. Their friendship grew bit by bit as he went to visit him at his home, where Howard used to throw many parties, for he was an excellent singer and piano player and … he also liked Chris De Burgh. Together, Howard and Ossama used to have long sessions of comparative religion.

The former was definitely a great impetus for Ossama to think differently than those of his own age. He used to go with him to Alamen, where Howard stopped at the graveyards of those dead during the World War and cry his head off.

It was the first time for Ossama to see someone who was so much against the concept of war; "We are talking the 70's, the concept of war was a heroic one, it was part of the culture, then.", nevertheless; Howard was never against the concept of one having to bleed for one's rights. Ossama liked to be around Howard, he was pondering over many ideas, he needed explanations and Howard seemed to provide them well.

It was one time when Ossama was on the crossroads of having to choose for himself what to do next and he discovered that he doesn't know what he want. Discussing the topic with Howard, he got the most surprising answer: "And who does, my son?!"

During the time, Ossama had to quit basketball. He got his back badly hurt during one of the matches, but his coach thought it was only some cold. Things grew worse, however, only this time he kept it for himself with the aid of pain killers.
Still the hurt kept mushrooming until he wasn't able to exert any physical effort. He had to quit and it seemed like the end of the world; "But when you are in the middle of things, you don't see except what you have, life seems to stop at that!" Ossama smiles.

It was time for college now, and from all the things he wanted to join, Ossama Kamal came to settle his mind upon Interpretation. He had to go back to Cairo to join college and to start his career in the radio. That goes back to 1982, when he was performing Hamlet on the school stage, and after he was interviewed on the Radio, Mrs. Laila Al-Kerdany, who eventually became his boss, asked him if he wanted to work for there.

He agreed. It was a Saturday in October 1982, when he went on air for the first time. All he said was: "This is Radio Cairo and the time is 7:15"; It was like butterflies in his stomach.

His friends at college knew all along he was a Radio Announcer, but they kept it for themselves. His professors only knew on his fourth year. He graduated atop of his class and was supposed to pursue his academic career, yet, he didn't. He presented "Eternal Lyrics" from 1983-1996. It was a 15 minutes show, presenting poetry and lyrics; written by him and other authors. In the year 1984, the idea of the Late Night Cartoon Show sprang up, when Ossama Kamal started to present it to the Radio administration, which totally and categorically rejected the show in the format it was done at the time. It took few months of bargaining and few months of trying to push the idea through, until it finally saw the light. On the second Friday of the year 1985, the late night cartoon started with all the cartoon characters who gave the big birth to this show and it was considered Ossama's biggest hit. As time went by, the cartoons disappeared, though many people would wish they come back, including Ossama, and the show began to take the shape it is taking now.

The Radio was quite an exciting experience as much as it also opened new vistas before Ossama. During the late eighties, Ossama was helping one of his friends who worked for an international music company "PolyGram". It was the company which owned artists like Bon Jovi. He was introduced to the administration and they offered him a job. He got to attend many live concerts all around the world and in the year 1987, he started his show "Star Tracks" especially for that.

It was the first program on a Thursday night and it continued for a couple of years. Working with this Music company was quite fun; there was those conferences held in Greece, where he used to meet many famous people, it was exciting –at the time- to see artists like Berlin, Bon Jovi, Curiosity Killed The Cat … etc. In 1986, he was doing a show called "Live on Wire".
It started the trend of on-air live calls which didn't exist on any radio station in Egypt at the time. It mainly discussed hot issues, and it was quite a hit to the extent that it blocked all Telephone calls to the Radio and Television building. 1988 was the kick off for "Multinational Antenna"; a show he presented along with George Milad, a friend of his from the French Transmission.

The program needed quite an effort since the two announcers were using two different languages at the same time. It had to be scripted; English speakers had to understand what was being said in French, French speakers had to understand what was being said in English, while those who had good command of both languages had not to get bored! They had a chart for all European songs and people used to call to vote for the songs. It was a totally brand new idea and the two announcers being friends got it working right.

Despite all of this, things were not going that smooth in Radio. The very first time Ossama got fired was in 1986. He used to have lots of trouble with the security, they didn't like the way he looked; very young, always dressed in Jeans and always having a back sack.

So one time, they claimed they caught him smoking in the Studio, something everyone does, and they fired him. Though, Ossama was back again in less than two days when the decision was withdrawn, he never felt secure anymore and he realized he should start his very own business.

With only a failing month of experience in Xerox, Ossama made his decision to start his own business in the one thing he knew a lot about, that is to say, Interpretation.

He gave it a start by providing interpretation services for conferences; he used to employ professional interpreters as well as green ones who wanted to grow professional.

Things went steady until one time, Selim Rizk Allah, who was the President's Interpreter then, was going through some health troubles, they asked him to nominate someone to interpret the President's speech instead of him, and so he told them about Ossama, since he had had some training with him. The speech was very important and everyone was following it up.
Ossama did a good job and consequently he was offered a job to teach interpretation at the AUC. He accepted that as well and he did enjoy it.

The interpretation business kept going fine along with teaching. One of his students told Ossama one day about a colleague of hers who liked what he was doing and wanted to be his partner; the guy was good at arranging and coordinating other things and he thought it will be a good business to cooperate with Ossama. And despite the fact that he refused the idea at the very beginning, he eventually decided to meet him. From 1990 till 1996 things worked out fine as their business kept on flourishing in spite of all the ups and downs they had to pass through.

But Ossama had to break with them, once the idea of Cairo ICT came his way. He tried to convince his partners into it, but he didn't succeed to convey his vision to them. As much as he saw Communications and Information Technology coming to this country, they were not. He didn't want to lose them as friends and so he broke his business partnership with them and began working on Cairo ICT.

It was very difficult, back in 1996, to have the exhibition stand on its feet; still it was very challenging and futuristic. And now the exhibition is one of the most famous in the region and Ossama considers it to be his baby.

All along the Radio Career was going on, with so many troubles, but Ossama has always been keen not to lose it, for after all, the most hours he enjoyed were those he spent before the Microphone.

There were many shows, "Monsters of Rock", "You Sing It We Play It", "Macho Talk", "Proud To Be Different", "The Grill" and others, each has its own mark in his memory and each has its own place in his heart.

* Ossama Kamal's Photo Album

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