Friday, 25 January 2013

Anniversary of the revolution

Today is the second anniversary of the day that the revolution started.

The realisation that citizens could have an impact on politics, and that the haggard, complacent leaders of the previous thirty years were not invincible must have felt seismic.

A large proportion of the population is now happy to see a new leader who seems to represent them. Mohamed Morsi has provincial origins in the Nile Delta. His party, the Freedom and Justice Party, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, one of those organisations whose wings were clipped under Mubarak but are now stretching them wide and making its first flights. He is a devout Muslim and has brought his religion into the political realm, and is an advocate of the social implications this entails.

But today's atmosphere on the streets has not necessarily been celebratory. Mohamed Morsi has a sizable opposition to contend with, and they were out in force today, claiming that the path paved by the revolution has been hijacked. The Brotherhood and their Islamist allies are taking an increasing monopoly over political processes, and recently managed to rush through a constitution that represented first and foremost only their own interests.

Further afflicted by the country's deepening economic woes, the national opposition is becoming forlorn at where the revolution has led them. One development they can be proud of, however, is the new-found freedom to make this discontent clear. Protests, political organisation and the voicing of opposition take place in a far freer environment than they ever have done in Egypt. That achievement would not have been reached were it not for the protests that started in cities across the country two years ago today, most famously in Tahrir Square in Cairo, to whom the band CairoKee (featuring Aida El-Ayoubi) produced the following ode.

ياه يا الميدان
كنت فين من زمان؟
هديت السور نورت النور
لميت حوليك شعب مكسور
اتولدنا من جديد
واتولد الحلم العنيد
بنختلف والنية صافية
أوقات الصورة مكنتش واضحة
هنصون بلادنا وأولاد ولادنا
حق اللي راحوا من شبابنا
yāh yā_lmidān
kuntə fēn min zamān
haddīt issūr nawwart innūr
lammīt ḥawlīk šaʕbə maksūr
itwaladnā min gadīd
w_itwalad ilḥilm ilʕanīd
binixtalif w_inniyya ṣafya
awʔāt iṣṣūra ma-kanitšə wadḥa
hansūn biladnā wi_wlād wiladnā
ḥaʔʔ illi raḥū min šababnā
Oh! Oh, Tahrir Square!
Where were you all this time?
You brought down the wall, you lighted the light
You gathered around you a broken people
We were born anew
And so was a tenacious dream
We've disagreed, but our intentions are pure
Sometimes the vision wasn't clear
We'll protect our country and our children's children
And the rights of the young ones we've lost

The above is the second verse of the song, sung by the 90s star Aida El-Ayoubi. It is one of her first musical appearances after ten years of retirement. My translation is based on that by one of the bloggers on Wil Ya Wil, one of the beacons of Egyptian post-revolutionary social media.

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