|Detail from Eugène Delacroix'|
"La Liberté guidant le peuple"
Lately, I have been more busy updating the overview of the protests in the Middle-East than posting a fresh entry. Still, it keeps on fascinating me.
And I am not talking about all the civil unrest in Libya, although most coverage is from that corner. It is pure cruelty and reading all the violent news articles doesn't make me any happier. I really hope that a solution will be found, and found fast, in honour of all the victims in this civil war.
Thank God I didn't book that Afriqiyah flight for the 7th of March or I would have probably been an eye witness, covering live from Tripoli airport, ugghh...
Since the beginning of this month, again, something very interesting is happening in Egypt: Ahmed Shafiq who has resigned and Essam Sharaf, his opposition, becoming the new prime minister; the storming of the hated state securtiy headquarters in both Alexandria and Cairo (which can be compared to the German people storming the Stasi in 1990).
Of course, I know that the protests have become very violent, especially now that religous difference are again discussed with the fist and pro-democracy activists are clashing with an armed opposition. Only, I can't help but feel that this whole struggle for justice and freedom is also romantic and (dare I say it?) heroic. Weeks of determined protests, opposing the police force, and succeeding in crippling a totalitarian regime. The military takes over, promising change, but still the protests continue.
I can only witness it from afar, as a distant bystander, sitting safe in my own house in a peaceful country with a newspaper in my lap. But when I read about the Egyption people who don't give up, who can almost smell the possibilities and have 'bitten' themselves into their belief of better politics, holding on tight and are determined not to let go until they get the signs of a better future, it purely makes my heart pump. It makes me feel like an idealistic teenager again and I just want to jump on my desk, wave the flag and shout: "Power to the People!"
In my previous posts I already called it "sign of the times" and I have often repeated it, but these are clearly revolutionary times. You can't deny these waves of protests and the sheer parallelities in the demands of all these people. It even spread to the Chinese youth, who called for protests, frustrated with the high unemployment rate.
All these protests are the symptom of the disease called discontentedness, or maybe I could even call it "injustice through the eyes of the masses". These protests could be the first step to the cure for this disease, but the only true cure for it is a reform, whether by compromise or a radical one. Protesting in the streets is already a big challenge, but finding the right change, that will be the second challenge. I am extremely interested in what will happen next.
Article in MO
At the end of December 2010, my old housemate, an attractive lady called Sara, visited me in Ghana. We traveled from Accra to Kumasi and continued to Tamale, afterwards she started exploring herself: more up north to Bolga and later back south to Cape Coast. It was all big fun and I am sure that she liked the country.
As a present, she left some Belgian magazines behind for me to read: of course some issues of my good old favourite HUMO, but also of Mondiaal Magazine (MO). As I am the kind of person that will always first eat the cherry before the rest of the pie, I immediately devoured the HUMOs before I even glanced at the more 'engaged' MO.
It wasn't until this morning that I saw that the issue of September 2010 was folded open, showing an article titled: "The largest social movement of the Middle-East" about the wave of strikes happening in Egypt. The article starts with the very interesting statement:
More than two million employees have been part of more than three thousand of demonstrations in Egypt. But as these have nothing to do with muslim fundamentalism, this movement stays undetected by [the Western] media.
Between 1984 and 1999, the income of an employee in the industrial sector dropped with 262 euro, while the productivity or the [economical] value per labourer in the same sector had risen with 1728 euro.
Personally, I had no idea that in a span of several years, millions of people had already been taking the streets demanding for better working conditions, a better allowance and halting the privatisation of utility companies.
The article concludes with one of the lead striker, Mr. Mohammed Saïd:
"We will keep on protesting until we drop. We have nothing to lose."
This is an article published in September 2010, five months before the first news of unrest in Egypt.