Mikey Muhanna sitting in a chair before a large group of presentation attendees, all looking at a presentation.
Mikey Muhanna (left) gives a presentation on the filmography of actor Omar Sherif to the New York Afikra chapter in 2019. Courtesy Afikra

A Podcast Dedicated to Deepening Awareness About Arab History and Culture

Afikra’s community-oriented audio program brings together various voices of the Arab world.
By Chelsea Steinauer-Scudder
March 27, 2021
2 minute read

In colloquial Levantine Arabic, عفكرة roughly translates to “on second thought” or “come to think of it.” Pronounced afikra, the term is a fitting name for the grassroots movement social entrepreneur Mikey Muhanna founded in 2014, dedicated to cultivating curiosity about Arab history and culture. Unable to find meaningful ways for he and his friends to explore their Arab heritage beyond traditional family celebrations and engaging in activism, Muhanna began hosting events in New York City, where he was living at the time. Their popularity led him to form Afikra chapters in other parts of the world, including Amman, Bahrain, Dubai, and London. Today, the venture organizes free, regular talks, workshops, and presentations (currently hosted online, due to Covid-19; anyone can RSVP to receive a link to the meetings), all focused on deepening awareness of the Arab world.

Last year, Afikra introduced a podcast to share the conversations it’s initiating with an even broader audience. Hosted by Muhanna from his current residence in Beirut, each episode features a guest presentation or a long-form interview that highlights people who are actively shaping Arab culture through their work. Recent episodes have featured Tunisian human rights activist Emna Mizouni; Iraqi artist and calligrapher Wissam Shawkat; and professor Nasser Rabbat, director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT. Ever resourceful, Muhanna makes the most of the technology used to create the show, which is recorded over Zoom, sometimes before a virtual audience: He’ll post relevant links for those who joined the call in the Zoom chat, or open conversations to attendees in the form of town hall–style Q&As. It’s his way of maintaining a sense of community, and allowing listeners to hear Afikra’s mission in action.