Many thanks to the people who have contributed to clarifying what this image shows.
I have added a close-up of the men below, in case this helps identify them.
From all the replies I have had to my request for information it is clear that this is Asmara, not Cairo, as the vendor who sold this to me suggested.
Thanks to everyone who contacted me. The evidence indicates that:
- The photograph shows Muslim Youth Club in Asmara, which was the youth organisation of the Muslim League.
- The writing on the back refers to three men, Yassin Hassan Usman, Mussa Idriss Mussa, and Abdulahi [unclear] Zeinulabodi(?).
- They seem to have come from Senafe for a meeting at the club. Their names are written to commemorate their visit, and after their names is “di” – the Italian for “from” – Senafe.
- One commentator said: “I believe this is young Muslim community club in Asmara as it states in Arabic. Perhaps this pic was taken on the occasion of establishing a new club. The date of the pic.1946 precedes the establishment of the Muslim League [Alrabita] which was established early 1947. It is of interest to me on a personal level, as my father was involved with the Youth branch of the Muslim League. Our home was near the main Mosque in Asmara, I believe not far from this club. Couldn’t recognize any one.”
- The turbans suggested to some people that they were Eritrean Jeberti Muslims.Other commentators have contested this, pointing out that turbans, top suits with jallabiyas still mark Jeberti in Asmara and Mendefera. As one person put it: “Some of them could be Saho if the three men were from Senaafe, as Jeberti don’t live in the south eastern part of the highlands.” Another said: “It is difficult to suggest or to assign the turban to Jeberti’s. Most, if not all, Eritrean Muslims in the cities were wearing the same turban. If you see pictures from the first Eritrean parliament (1952) most of the 32 Muslim parliamentarians were wearing the same but not all of them were Jebertis.”
- The photograph is dated 27 Rajab, 1365 [in the Islamic calendar] corresponding to June 27, 1946.
- The club was an active youth organisation established in reaction to the Unionist Party’ s youth organisation. Its aim was to mobilise the Muslim youth for the case of Eritrean independence.
- The writing in Tigrigna on the wall says ‘Native Muslim Youth Community’. The architecture is typical Asmara architecture of the so-called ‘native quarters.’
- I have also been told that the location of the Club is behind the Grand Mosque of Asmara “Chulepha Al Rashidun”. The Club was first named “Nadi Al’ Shebab”. In 1954 it was renamed to “Nadi Al’ Jeberti”.
There is apparently no record of an Eritrean Muslim Youth club in Cairo in this period (or even afterwards). What existed in Cairo was (still is) an Eritrean Students club.
If anyone can identify these men more clearly, please let me know. Anyone who wishes to re-publish this photograph is welcome to do so, but I would be grateful if they would acknowledge that it is mine.