September 22, 2011 by theresiugoes
We had a huge mulberry tree growing in our backyard as a child. I have felt a personal connection to that tree – the story goes that Mama craved for mulberries when she was pregnant with me, and in the spring the mulberry tree blossomed and sustained her cravings. I spent many hours of my childhood, climbing that tree, delighting in it’s sweet offerings. You could always tell, though, when I’d had a few too many mulberries. My clothes would be marked, and as I walked through the house, the carpet stained purple.
Something so beautiful left an ugly mark.
It’s a bit like that in Cairo – the remnants of the beautiful revolution are an ugly stain on the landscape.
Were there a sense of hope in the future, the burnt buildings would stand as a reminder of a great victory, the success of the people. But there is, instead, a sense of confusion and frustration. “The revolution,” UncleM explained, “has left us with nothing good.”
Much of my family went down to join the protestors as they filled Tahrir Square, many of them celebrating the ‘fall’ of the oppressive regime. But it is clear that joy was short lived – the impending elections have been repeatedly delayed, and the current ruling military is a case of “same, same but different.” I’ve heard of their fear as the looting and rioting went through the streets, people looting shops and robbing homes. CousinM tells me that he and his neighbours started somewhat of a neighbourhood watch, patrolling the streets with guns and machetes to protect themselves, their livelihood, their families. “There was no work for several months, and even now, some people haven’t been able to return to work,” he told me. “Egypt saw it’s darkest days.”
And all the while, as I walk through Cairo, and hear these stories and see the residue of the revolution, I hear Tracey Chapman’s song
While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion
Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Poor people are gonna rise up
And get their share
This revolution has been a long time coming. And the people did rise up, and get their share, but then… it stopped. They haven’t kept their share. It wasn’t really a revolution that happened here – they haven’t come full circle yet. They’re still waiting, waiting… waiting for things to be better, waiting for the country to be healed, waiting.
It’s a bit of an anti-climax, really.