I cheer with the people of Egypt who are kind and inviting, and who welcomed me, December 2006-February 2007, when I was there under the auspices of the Fulbright Center and The American University, Cairo doing research on Egyptian Women Artists. These last 17 days as I watched on television the unfoldings, and got a few urgent messages from friends in Egypt, my heart was and remains one with the people. I am so happy to be alive to witness this moment. Egyptians have shown us, (a reminder for some of us) and have set a blueprint (for those who know nothing of Ghandi and India or Martin Luther King Jr/The Civil Rights Movement in the USA) for what is possible when a people are ready and resolute.
But what we have witnessed is not new or rather did not just happen over night, the last several weeks. There have been protests taking place about Mubarak since before I was there in 2006, and even last summer when I was in Cairo for a week, folks were organizing and protesting and chanting change must come. Movements always begin and are fueled by the people, when they have been pressed as far back against the wall as they can, and either resisting or being crushed are their only choices. What Egyptians have done are for their children, the future, representing in the faces of these children who invited me to photography them in Giza near the pyramids, in 2006.
I just got off skype, talking a a dear friend in Egypt whose voice was hoarse from shouting, who lost two friends (many died to bring about this change that is still up in the air, uncertain), who was followed by the police and whose apartment was searched more than once, and who felt threatened and hid with friends for over a week. This victory, like all victories are not without their casualties. What lies ahead is even more daunting for Egyptians. How will this transformation take place? What checks must they put in place to ensure that another dictator (that was fully supported by our government, until the people said, “No More! Enough is enough!”) does not emerge under the euphoria and guise of being one with the people? And will the people of Egypt get any of the billions that Mubarak stole that is enhancing the quality of life of some or a European country, whose supposedly “neutrality” allows its citizen to have one of the best life style? How will they rebuild Cairo? How does it change all those children that were part of the protest, being carried in their mothers’ arms and on their fathers’ shoulders? What will they be like in ten or fifteen years?
I spoke to my two youngest children in college on Friday, and was happy to hear their excitement and solidarity with the Egyptian people. They have been to Egypt and have experienced the love and genuine warmth of the people. My son said in 2007 it was the best family vacation we had taken. I would like to think my children are who they are because as infants, and as teenagers, I took them to rallies and anti war protests in San Francisco at the Civic Center and else where. I would like to think that they are who they are and stand in solidarity with Egyptians because they were shown at a young age, that they must be the change they want to see happen.
Long live the freedom of Egypt! Long live our collective force!
Causes Opal Adisa Supports
California Poets in the Schools
Homeless Shelter for Pregnant Women