Once upon a time in a land far far away, also known as Egypt, there was a beautiful palace with beautiful gardens. However in this palace lived a vicious tyrant who ruled over the land. He was neither good, kind or generous, but instead reigned over his people with an iron hand, instigating terror and hatred at every turn. Finally the good people of Egypt decided that they had had enough of their tormentor and united together to rid the land of evil. One fateful night they all gathered together, brandishing pitchforks and any other weapons that they could summon, and together marched down to Tahrir Square to see that justice was served. They sat and they waited, they huffed and they puffed, and finally the evil wizard was overthrown and they all lived happily ever after.
But did they? This is the part where I am supposed to write ‘The End’ however, somehow my fingers cannot bring themselves to do it. As children we all skipped down the yellow brick road to witness the trials and tribulations of Cinderella, the uphill climb of Jack and the adventures of Alice. We grew up reading fairy tales, or being read to at night, however, as we got older we all came to realise that fairy tales were not actually true and this particular Egyptian bedtime story is no different. A beautiful tale of revolution and triumph, victory and justice, however, a fairy tale none the less.
The realisation that the Egyptian revolution of 2011 was no more than magic dust and rainbows, dawned upon me as I was driving home from work one afternoon. It all struck me as I was stuck in nauseating, bumper to bumper, Cairo traffic watching the micro bus on one side of me narrowly avoid knocking at least seven pedestrians over while on the other side of me the gentleman in the gleaming brand new Mercedes proceeded to wind down his window and throw out his empty McDonalds bag onto the street, cup and all. Now anyone who has the daily misfortune of being stuck in Cairo traffic, unnecessary traffic I might add, every day will realise that this is always a particularly low time for you. You have finally escaped the confines of your office; work is behind you for the night, however, the twenty minute journey home is taking you, as usual, a good two hours, due to the fact that…well no one really knows why. It was at a time just like this that I stumbled upon the shocking realisation that our esteemed revolution was in fact a myth. As I was surrounded by filthy streets, bad attitudes and worse driving I thought to myself, where is the revolution now? Despite all the good fairy godmothers and the wise wizards who worked together to rid the land of evil, it seems they achieved nothing at all.
People are still desperately unhappy, there are still no opportunities for the people of our country and most importantly, our evil sorcerer, instead of melting under a pail of water or being banished to some far away land as he should have, is sitting comfortably in the very country that cried against him, on an even more comfortable allowance of 95,000 Egyptian pounds per month. So I ask you. What revolution? A coup d’état is perhaps a more appropriate title to give this story. A very amicable coup albeit, however an overthrow nevertheless. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces now run the country and it would appear they follow in Mubarak’s footsteps. Let’s not forget that General Tantawi was in fact appointed by Mubarak and seems to dance to a very similar tune.
When speaking, arguing and debating with fellow Egyptians the reoccurring argument that surfaces is time. We need time. Change cannot happen overnight. Egypt needs a few years. Although these are all true and valid arguments, the heart-breaking fact of the matter is that change, or the desire to be different, is not even on the horizon these days. Until we all stop resting on the laurels of an exemplary revolution and stop wandering backwards down memory lane to nostalgically gaze over the ‘Tahrir days’, Egypt cannot and will not experience any change or even a step towards the future. The big bad wolf continues to hold Egypt in its hungry jaws as freedom and a new future remain elusive ideals. The time has come for Egyptians to remove the rose tinted glasses and accept the reality of a broken country and a failed revolution. Only when we accept the problems and admit to them can we begin to change a country. Until then, unfortunately, this specific fairy tale has a long long way before it can reach The End.