The wise and old in Egypt might be wiser
The only thing certain in Egypt today is that it is alive and kicking. The real challenge is how it continues to survive and which direction the kicking takes. There is not a single day that goes by without a major happening. Egyptians have by now learned to keep their ears open and their eyes on the screens. Unfortunately, both rumors and news are mostly about disasters, when they are not plainly painful and borderline scary. Gratefully, amid the dark daily indications of political strife, economic breakdown and social disintegration, there are a few rays of sunshine.
It is indeed an amazing generation of Egyptians; the generation that with mere slogans, solid values fused with abundant energy and a spirit of the youth brought to end a 30-year comatose/crippled regime. It is the same generation that was later disappointed and sidetracked by their elders’ political games and greed for power and interest-driven economic blunders that will change the face of Egypt once again. This time they are using the full range of artistic expression in a burst of unmatched creativity to face their powerful adversaries. They shall overcome.
One of those creative teams made global headline news when Bassem Youssef was given bail in a court case against his political satire show “ElBaranmeg” for allegedly defaming President Mohamed Morsi and speaking out against Islam. Bassem and his widely viewed televised show kicked back with even more ingenuity. This time new words to a widely revered national song from the 1960s that boasted the Arab dream of unity was the tool to voice a clear critical view of Qatar in its relation to Egypt. His global attention will provide the many creative activities all over the country added power as they express, articulate and communicate critical political and social perspectives to a broad, sympathetic public. Egypt has long had an acknowledged tradition of political jokes and cartoons being used to provide breathing space throughout decades of controlled freedom of expression. Currently, music, puppetry, street theater, graffiti, pantomime and clowning, in addition to documentaries and installation art, are among the many forms used as political platforms giving voice to an increasingly dissatisfied substantial group of Egyptians.
Dismissing this kind of soft kicking as opposed to the traditional hardcore political propaganda tools, direct speeches or texts will be a grave oversight. Theirs is a newer genuine language that connects and creates effective outreach and awareness of public issues. Combined with increased access and use of electronic tools, they will further expand their ability to mobilize followers. This surge of creative expression goes beyond entertainment and edutainment to tackle real political, economic and social issues. Inbuilt are their unorthodox solutions to many of Egypt’s pains.
The breakthrough in 2011 shook Egypt back to life. For over two years now, many have been engaged in the change mostly in anticipation of a new and better one. Disappointment, to say the least, has been on the rise. The kicking has not ceased for a moment. This new form of kicking back is attracting attention and breaking new ground every day. The old and wise would be wiser to tune in.