The influence of media on children growing up is a huge factor in their growing up journey. In Libya, many cartoons and local programs played a role in teaching children from a young age many great lessons. One of the famous songs that influenced many generations in Libya is (We are young, and we become adults). No matter how long time passed, we still remember it with fond memories. For this article, I am sharing the incredible career of the Libyan artist who dedicated his work to Libyan children, Mohammed Abdallah Kresta. I got the pleasure of conversing with his daughter, Dr. Randa Mohammed Abdallah Kresta. She spoke dearly about her late father, remembering him and his legacy with love and pride.
Abdallah Kresta was one of the art pioneers and a tremendous cultural figure in Libya. He worked sincerely to lay the foundations of his field of specialization. It is important to note that he was one of the few who played an essential role in the launch of Libyan radio in 1957 by preparing and supervising the program “Children’s Corner.” He designed, directed, and presented the first distinguished program for children and continued to present it for nearly thirty years. It was a program based on educational guidance from those whose childhood corresponded to the fifties and sixties of the last century.
Abdallah Kresta’s Upbringing & Childhood
Mohammad Abdallah Kresta, known as Abdallah Kresta, was born and raised in Bab al-Bahr in 1935. He was a multi-talented person who worked as an author, composer, and theater director. As part of his rich talent and specialization, there were many plays in which Kresta presented creative artists, including the artist Lutfi Bin Musa. As for the children’s domain, he left songs imprinted in many generations’ minds, including mine.
It is important to highlight his upbringing in the Bab Al-Bahr neighborhood. It greatly influenced his career. At that time, all its inhabitants were sailors. His father was one of the sailors and his first teacher, who instilled in him a love of children’s art—a great deal of knowledge of the Libyan heritage stories and a beautiful narration style. Also, the utmost beauty and uniqueness left a positive reflection and impact on his personality later.
Highlights From his Career
Abdallah Christa was not only a program developer and presenter; before that, he was an educator who understood childhood, its psyches, and needs. As a result, it reflected positively in the sections of his program. Also, Kresta was the first to produce animations with Islamic educational content through religious stories. As for the father figure, his daughter Dr. Randa Kresta shared with me that her father is her idol who raised her and her siblings on love and honesty.
“He is the friend, brother, and lover I resorted to in every aspect of my life,” Dr. Randa, his daughter, added. “My siblings, Amal and Hisham, our late brother Ayman, and me, our father taught us interdependence and sincerity.” She said, “He taught us the love of art, including Farid Al-Atrash, Abdel-Wahab Umm Kulthum, Laila Murad, Faiza Ahmed, and many more, thanks to my dear father.”
His artistic contributions expand to more than his famous program. For example, he was the first to produce animated films in Arab countries. The Companions of the Elephant is the first integrated cartoon series that narrates the biography of the Prophet. Moreover, Kresta issued the first children’s magazine in 1961, which was the Child magazine. In the following year, this magazine developed into the magazine “The Rising Generation” in 1962. Mohammed Abdallah Krista produced nearly 320 songs and operettas for children. He had about 2,500 hours of cartoon films, including Tales of the Thousand and One Nights, Tales of the Evening, and the series Let’s Learn.
To the right is a Group photo of Abdallah Kresta with some of the children of his show on the cover of the July 1969 issue of Radio and Television Magazine. To the side, you can see a solo picture of Kresta with the other two leading children in his show. Fawzia Al-Geritli and Lotfi Abeya. Today, Lotfi Abeya grew up as the great artist known to everyone, “Lotfi Al-Aref.”
Mohammed Abdallah Kresta left a great legacy filled with love and hope for children around Libya. It is noteworthy that Kresta was nicknamed the ambassador of childhood and Disney Libya. He contributed positively to childhood in Libya, and many children grew up influenced by his work. Kresta passed away in 2020 at the age of 85.
Special thanks to his daughter for the time to share with me more about her father.