February 11, 2011 by jessperriam
I don’t remember where we were – Cairo or Aswan – but the topic of politics came up amongst our group of travellers. It probably had something to do with the fact that we’d just caught word that Julia Gillard had become Australia’s first female PM.
To be honest, until June 2010 I knew precious little about Egyptian politics.
Under the fierce Egyptian sun our group leader didn’t say much. He didn’t have to. He merely said that Mubarak had been in power for 30 years, that he was ruling under emergency provisions and that it was time for a change.
I didn’t know that change would happen within a year.
There was that underlying tone all through my time in Egypt, that people wanted to forge a better life for themselves and their loved ones – much like we all do. But for whatever reason, the economics, the politics seemed to make it impossible for the average man on the street. And the further you went away from Cairo and the other Nile cities, the more apparent the poverty became.
Egyptians are fiercely proud of their nation and their history and it’s understandable that they should reach a breaking point after years of frustrations.
I’m not sure whether our group leader who hinted at things to come was at Tahrir Square this evening celebrating; I don’t know whether he would have taken part in the protests at all. But I would hazard a guess that he would be sitting back somewhere on the street he shares with one million other Cairenes with a cigarette, a coffee and smile on his face.
Back in July last year, I wrote a bit about Egypt, it was a fairly heavy experience:
“Egypt was great. But it’s one of those places that you can go for the temples and the pyramids and the hieroglyphics. Or you can go there for the people, their experiences and their stories.
I have countless ticket stubs for museums, temples and tombs. But these photos [of locals] mean more.
Thanks Egypt, we will meet again someday, inshallah”
And the sentiment still remains, we will meet again someday. And I look forward to making up for lost time.