The question was asked sadly…cynically: Am I still happy to have been part of the Revolution? A few months back my answer was instantaneous, passionate and full of conviction. Of course! I count the early days of the revolution amongst the happiest of my life: to have had the opportunity to join in the chant of millions demanding freedom and social justice, to have been saved from a bullet by an unknown young man who took it upon himself to act as my protector at the risk of his own safety and to have meshed with the true fabric of my society in Tahrir Square are unique experiences that I will always cherish. But this is not just about personal feelings and experiences…
We are living in historic times where Egyptians from all walks of life have come as one to claim their country back because they know that it can be better, they are sure that they can make it better. This in itself is a major social inflection point, one that ends the downward spiral that we were living in and enables us to craft a better future that is worthy of Egypt. Self-confidence, a long forgotten trait of the Egyptian character has reappeared, and with it came a strong sense of “Yes We Can” empowerment.
Yet as revolutions uncover the pent-up emotions they not only bring out the best in us, they also expose the worst; and true enough - violence and religious fundamentalism became prevalent. However, unlike our newly discovered spirit, these negatives have always been there, thriving under the previous regime that used them to scare us into submission. And scary they are, for they are lethal poisons that regress the society to the primitive times where brutal force is the only communication mechanism and where there is no respect for basic human rights. But as a true believer in the ultimate goodness of the human consciousness I trust that tolerance, acceptance and respect for the sanctity of life shall prevail and that a strong antidote of education and social justice will cure us. It will take years to overcome but the journey starts with us acknowledging the elephant that is in the room - and standing up to it.
I believe that the current sense of unease, which partially inspired the original question, is because we have not started the journey; we have not yet identified the leadership that can vocalize our vision and energize us into implementation. We are at a time where everybody has an opinion but nobody has a plan; where presidential candidates think that they can win elections by saying that they believe in a civil state and in democracy. The only plan available is that of the Muslim Brotherhood but it is tarnished, and as a historically covert command and control movement they are finding it very difficult to change democratically under the limelight. Yet we should not forget the importance of timing, I for one, believe that this vacuum we are experiencing will yield the leaders we seek, for they are out there today, empowered by the revolution, aware of the people’s suffering, honing their vision and soon, very soon, they will stand up and acknowledge their responsibility towards leading us towards the Egypt we know we can be. All that is required is for time to present them with the seminal event which will incite them into movement … and it shall come.
So today as I mull over the question - Am I still happy to have been part of the revolution, even after I walked into my mother’s home to find her violently murdered at the hands of a petty thief who, encouraged by the curfew, broke into her home and killed her for a few thousand pounds? Do I blame the Revolution for emboldening the thugs, for creating a lax security environment whereby even one of the biggest streets in Cairo is not safe at dawn? Does it matter what I feel? The facts remain: I believe that the January 25th Revolution is the best thing that happened to Egypt during the past six decades and that as I search in my mental memory for an image of my mother’s to replace the horror I saw, I choose one of hers on a sunny January day as she sat down on a pavement in a packed Tahrir Square smoking a cigarette and looking up at me as she chanted with the crowds “Long live Egypt.”
Engi Haddad is a strategy & communications consultant. She co-founded Shayfeen.com, the Afro-Egyptian Human Rights Organization (AEHRO) and Egyptians Against Corruption. She is a Board Member of several major Egyptian Companies. Engi holds a BSc. from the American University in Cairo (AUC) and an Executive MBA from Harvard University