For the first time in her life, Cairo Scene’s resident Bitch is no longer bitching about Egypt…
Once upon a time, Egypt meant backward. It meant poverty. It meant corruption. It meant greed. It meant a world of closed-minded blood-sucking individuals that deliberately set out to milk the country and its citizens for all that it was worth. Once upon a time, that was how I saw Egypt.
Once upon a time when asked what my nationality was, I said ‘Canadian’ because when I looked into the faces of those who looked like me, and those who shared my heritage, I saw myself a stranger.
Once upon a time, my family moved back to Egypt and I felt that dying was better than having to live here for a single second.
Once upon a time, boarding a plane to London, I resolved within myself that I was never coming back, happy to finally be free.
Once upon a time, I looked at Egypt and saw bitterness amongst its people. I saw separation. I saw egocentrism. I saw a bunch of primal lowlifes fighting for their existence.
Once upon a time, patriotism was a utopian concept, adopted by the simple and defended by the foolish.
Once upon a time, Egypt was unchangeable. Once upon a time, that was my Egypt.
And then somewhere along the way something changed.
Looking into the mirror, I saw that I was backward for not looking at history and realizing that civilizations have risen and fallen, whilst Egypt, for better or for worse, has always survived.
I understood that I was selfish and greedy. Having been brought up in countries all over the world where the price of democracy had already been paid so many years ago, I wasn’t interested in paying that same price for my own country. Despite all of my big talk, I wanted to reap all of the rewards without contributing a thing.
I found that the separation I experienced walking through my country’s streets was because I was arrogant and patronizing, looking at the nation and its people like I was somehow better than them because of the privileges that had been afforded by my education.
And in coming to terms with all of this, I realized that Egypt would only change when I did and I packed my bags and I willingly came back to Egypt.
It’s been an eventful week to say the least and that may be the biggest understatement of all time, because who would have dreamed one week ago that this would be where we stand right now.
One week ago, people were camping out in front of gas stations, waiting in petrol cues that wrapped round the block just so they could make it to work on time. One week ago, we were still reeling from a political speech regurgitated at us for the duration of almost two and half hours (that felt like two and a half lifetimes). One week ago, we all had our doubts about whether we still had it in us to fight yet another corrupt regime seeking only to further its own agendas.
But who can remember that now?
One week later, we’re all reeling from the whirlwind of having ousted the-man-who-thought-himself-president Mohammed Morsi and his party. One week later, our voices have been heard and our heroes were NOT America, or the EU or any other country that potentially had the power to exert a level of pressure on the former regime; our heroes were the people. Our heroes are the people who put everything on hold to go out into the streets and make a noise so loud that it was impossible to be ignored.
Our heroes were also the Egyptian Armed Forces who proved, once and for all, that they are of the people and for the people.
For the second time in two years, Egyptians resolved that the seed of democracy be planted and watered correctly and went on to fiercely and adamantly pull out all the weeds and thorns that threatened to kill the tree of liberty they had sowed.
I have never been so proud to be Egyptian. This week, I have walked in demonstrations and carried banners; I have raised my voice and I have smiled at the unity and the love that binds everyone together. I knew I wasn’t a stranger anymore when I danced in the streets of Cairo and sang patriotic songs that I had previously thought ridiculous.
Once upon a time, I was hateful, disrespectful, and ignorant of myself and of my country, and Egypt took me in anyway and showed me an unconditional kindness that I’ve never experienced anywhere else in the world and that is not something I can take lightly.
Once upon a time in Egypt, I learned that once upon a time is not a thing for Egyptians. We do not and never will passively wait for our futures to be determined; we are masters of our own fates.
So here’s to a new chapter that won’t be recalled in fairytales, but in history books. Here’s to bigger and better things. Here’s to change, here’s to democracy, here’s to Egypt and here’s to you!
Fuck once upon a time and congratulations to us all!