Personal Revolutions Along the Nile

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Personal Revolutions Along the Nile
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The most important and neglected story that people outside Egypt today over the course of the past 2 years have never heard, is the story of the personal changes. The so-called small details that, more-so than the political games and street battles, have made big changes in the lives of individuals, families, and neighborhoods. When it comes to assessing the events unfolding between January 2011 and at this very moment in Egypt, there is no shortage of writing, debating, pontificating, and bullshitting in the media or within the neverending noise of social media. Many claim to know exactly what is going on and pricisely where it is all going, with the main 2 points of view tilting either towards mass chaos or the birth of a new more beautiful, magical nation. In November 2012, together with a pioneer of the offline and online radio world, I set out for North Africa in a 100% crowdfunded mission to speak with and above all, listen to creative and active voices of artists and story tellers.
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they can't use the yield mark in Indiana parties American living and working in Amsterdam are all over the place vector lead mark ternative jornalista and part cost producer he popped passed on a weekly basis understood isn't on the list not all or the this report about are active and their heads Iran's man of the all it is the longest-running podcasts ever so that I box that power to and using them to Egypt and then dead to need that last year late last year the 1 I not interested in order that social media are stories high event the talk off after or during the Revolutions already but in that actually the people behind that and he went there under drought find that some troop completely crowdfunded together with another Donnelly is to actually talk to all these artists in the country and yet they are very personal stories and related to the review ended found out that actually there are a lot of have very personal revolution then President stories that happening and he will introduce you to some of these nice diaries and and PPA behind that the so while may come to mark
it and I
no longer on it that's good could not to be on you when you wanna speak to an audience a lottery 1 stretch out of room so does a very nice introduction Keirsey thank you and so on back for those of you who know me from the past and my name is mark circuit and they took sometimes on the internet in places like Twitter and called bicycle mark just a name we all have our Internet names and so uh as you may have heard yes sir I've been doing this podcast many of you do podcasts on right there next you in iTunes likes to CNN and the kid next word as a podcast about as pets there's me and I do international news on reported issues and other doing it since 2004 that's the beginning of the story um what's happened over the last few years is I choose my topic that's the freedom of being a citizen journalist in a podcaster I decide what I'm interested in and then I hope that maybe you'll be interested to so that I'm not talking to myself it's not that you could stop me from talking to myself you can so the in between talking to myself and talking
to you these journeys come up with some of them are a of my own dream of my own thinking and they involve uh going to parts of the world where I feel we should hear more from but for whatever reason the values of the mainstream we
don't so I choose these places or sometimes these places choose me and so this past actually 1 year ago about this time uh and there's another podcaster he's actually the 1st podcaster ever here I put a little tiny picture of us legal family and
that that's Christopher Elidan of radio open source and ready open-source is actually a radio program in Boston Public Radio and I was a longtime listener uh since before podcasting
actually ends um big fan and like the world of podcasting
uh sometimes brings people together but we came to know each other several years ago he knows my program and can as 1 those conversations where a gentleman of let's say 72 at the time now 73 years old says to a gentleman of 33 uh I like what you do could we go on a podcast journey together and I thought podcast journey Chris relied on radio open source travel yes yes we can do that so uh then it was a matter of our how do we do this well I know how to travel cheat and I know how to get around they speak a few languages in the ones that i don't speak i fake with my eyes and they're like Christopher said OK that sounds good as a how we can afford this and I of course look at the more experience journalist and say I don't know how and he said OK um what about the crowdfunding the kids are doing and I know you kids and you're doing a crowdfunding and only a very successful with it for for noble causes only noble causes and I said OK we can do crowdfunding we can go on Kickstarter and we can say look we have an idea send money and boom people start sending money and special thank you to the people Germany who are always more active givers than any other culture especially my
talk next year why do Germans give more than any other cultures and I don't know the secret it might be in your large beers by or so we crowds on the jury raise all I don't know was talk about money
let's say 20 thousand dollars which sounds like a lot but does it a whole lot makes me wonder why don't have a right now but the we raise the money of course to pay for the journey and that it was going to be on was a question where we gonna go so Christopher said I wanna go to north Africa in and why not that I really need a wide too good of north Africa but said of course they had the arab spring and it's been a year and it was a year that time and we should go see how life is
changed to what's going on and if we go let's not talk to government officials let's not talk to spokespeople let's go see artists and I said all gray organ go me crazy
people and ends uh no offense artists spots and I so we make a short list of people that we like people we heard of people we've never heard of but I heard about the somebody else and then I with that lists we propose the whole thing on Kickstarter and as I said people start to submit donations and support the projects yeah so why artists I mean that must be a question for some
people especially very serious journalist types but if I were a serious journalist sigh by might really sit back and be critical of of the idea but I wasn't artists are observers they may not be the best observers in the world but they spend a lot of their time trying to explain what's going on in the world around us I did that and in the case of Egypt and Tunisia Tunisia especially the where the Arab Spring began but there are plenty of people creating art uh back then and even now and a lot of it is about what's changing in their world so it is using the very long to get on board with this idea I don't usually interview artists I'm more into the activists the hackers uh the people we rarely hear from that may be spending way too much time indoors and or the people who never spent time indoors and spend way too much time in the jungle um but the idea
artists great to me so that is a question of well who fits your criteria of artists and let me say our criteria is very loose um we began with writers especially in the case of Egypt you have some of the
greatest writers i think ever big bold statement um some of which are still living which is even better if you were to an interview yeah the and uh so and thankfully in 1 of the benefits I mean here I am a podcaster of 8 years at this point ends look let's be honest if I call a famous writer or a less famous writer but still it was quite talented they may not know
who I am but the advantage when you work with an experienced veteran from radio was done all kinds of interviews over the course of 40 to 50 years but some people listen and they answer they return your calls so it was a bit of a luxury to have more of my e-mails being responded to and more yeses to requests for interviews so this was 1 of the many advantages and sort of a world I'm not used to a world where people say yes and yes I take you seriously because sometimes is intended podcaster not everybody taken me so seriously um so we need the writers uh different iterations the older more established writers uh many of which uh were childhood friends or adult friends what search of friends of Maggie Mahfouz 1 of the most famous writers to ever come out of Egypt and ends our goal was to speak with the old and the young about their work now their work over the past few years and the country of their lives how things have been going ends which eventually leads to i'm doing this talk that when I started to notice was of course we see like in the news things about the government and you have the Muslim Brotherhood in on the evil or are they just part evil are they mostly evil but not all the time and uh that's a question they have a lot of questions of his Egypt going to collapse into a large fireball that engulfed so many people and pyramids and that's a question but what I started to notice was on the
ground level individual lives in a lot of things have changed I mean whoever was president and whatever happens at the government level and a lot of people were doing new things were challenging traditions that hadn't been challenged in a very long time and that to me became with this project was very much about so we have the
writers and of course the best are the artist the painters the graffiti artists which are such an important aspect of what's happening especially in while in Egypt and Tunisia graffiti is the place where all discussions are taking place and on walls and I'll get into that moment because you also had the journalists and you may not agree that journalists are artists but I fancy myself a shitty artists constantly painting pictures that some people understand and others don't and I was very happy to be able to speak with journalists in Tunisia and Egypt who of course are also observers and have their take on what they see and
this especially interesting part was those journalists would been around for a couple of decades now who can really put things in perspective because you did get that a younger person might say and I know we have some younger Egyptians maybe even in the crowd amounted that you're here if you are so a younger person might say this is like nothing we've ever seen before it's it's unbelievable these last 2 years the are almost at 2 years of life is completely different it's gonna be a better world and but then you have all the people who might say I remember something like this happening 20 years ago we've seen something like this before and it's not that anyone is right or wrong but it was great to have this perspective people with a very long view with a lot of experience maybe cynical sometimes too but people who could say by come down a 2nd when we tell you what I've seen
before in what's new and what's special so that's something I really appreciated from these journalists who themselves are all writers as well so if you really want you know fit them into the criteria of artists well there's type of artists and course then you have activists and activism
in all its forms may be artistic maybe not and in the context of Egypt right now you have plenty of activists In the square but also working in NGO was I'm I'm falling apart my technology is falling apart from um and so the reactors there the musicians of course because you can't have a revolution without a sound track and Egypt and Tunisia have a fantastic soundtracks and why not enjoy it while they were there
and learn about it and every now and then this is such a like strange thing to throw in but every now and then you meet an elder statesman so that's me and Boutros Boutros-Ghali I came here just to show you a picture of me and which was is a very elaborate way to show off but this is only showing off a huge nerd because no 1 else knows who witches Boutros-Ghali is but was really what happened was that of course how good that I'm in the right place them if I show this picture in like and a high school gathering those going your grandfather great so any was a lot when my grandfather but the great thing about meeting the sky and and actually I don't know of Chris uh was working with me wanted to meet witches Boutros-Ghali for this criteria because you know he's not an artist markers are as a politician no no but here you have a politician is no longer considered relevant and he himself says this many times in our interview in our conversations is that nobody wants to know what I think anymore I loved it I love knowing what he thinks that so this made him a kind of an underdog in the kind of guy I wanted in our series but because he's not on the front pages because
even in his own words he's failed many times to change his country interchange this world and I love hearing from a failure if that's what he thinks he is um because there's a lot to learn and as a lot of wisdom there so that was 1 of the highlights
of of what I experienced on this journey so that I'm gonna cut to the chase here with you know what these personal revolutions and I'll try to make a bit of a list some of this stuff might seem very basic but then again if you wanna build a better world let's start with some basics the city of Cairo I did not grow up there I have not spent enough time there and I will be back soon but 1
thing that I learned from conversations with people was that here you have a mega city now the mother of all cities where not so long ago people stayed in their neighborhood if you came from a poor
neighborhood and you did not dare go to the wealthier neighborhood but it wasn't so much that somebody was there to tell you not to although that's not impossible
but it was more just a as a way of thinking and 1 of the things that change and maybe you've heard about this but was amazing to get to see examples of it is that since the revolution in with the revolution people started going places they hadn't done before in the city but if you sort of a psychological barrier was challenged and I think subsequently really knock down that you could go to the wealthy neighborhood that you even though you don't have the money to afford whatever is for
sale or for rent there you can go and hang out on a corner on your scooter ends as a side effect of course you bring the music from your perhaps poor neighborhoods neighborhood and once upon a time the hit music from a poor neighborhood would be unheard of in wealthier neighborhood but not
anymore now it becomes the soundtrack of different neighborhoods the so I from getting a message mental telepathy message the there we go message received uh so 1 of the
interesting things with seeing a very simple the very powerful narrative change where the city is yours it's not a place for you're not allowed to go there you wouldn't dare it's shameful or something like that something else I noticed and some people exaggerated this said you know we had a transport strike and so I can use any public transport which is I guess fine uh but nowadays you have strikes and you you had strikes before during the barrack times but you're often met by you know extreme uh militant uh beatings and and it's mentality now is much more 1 of workers we have rights and
we're going to demonstrate and we're going to strike and this goes for every level of employment of knowing in in this case it was the the public transit workers I got a skip ahead because it's a time is role and 1 thing I loved and I noticed immediately is that nowadays I don't know what stories you heard from Tahrir Square but in November and December of 2012 and the mentality is very much this is our square so a lot of the news images that I saw when I was there world of police throwing things throwing tear-gas uh chasing people beating people but I was in the square for several days and where I was in the middle of the square nobody beats of anybody not know there have been bad days and there have been moments where things fall apart but 1 thing I noticed was nowadays if the government make some kind of announcement that people don't agree with or something happens somewhere in the city you assemble you come out and you come to the square and a lot of women even said you know we're afraid a little bit when we go to the square cause there have been some horrible things that have happened and they still can happen but what was amazing to me was that it was total mentality like of course we're gonna go to the square and as ours that's our place as so this is something that is become normal but it's as a small change that I think means quite a lot 1 of my favorite stories is also we were talking to a
young writer Nile L 2 key really liked him and he was talking about families and he said you know in in the Egypt that is only starting now the father may vote uh Muslim Brotherhood but the children will
vote for a centrist party or a Left party or any other party but you will disobey your father when it comes time to vote and of course is that every family but I thought it was interesting change you know something that they're they're just was it not possible well you know democracy in general was a problem but I felt at a very interesting change the families in the way families work if I heard this 1 and surely somebody can give you a better talk on it today and there was of course the wall the graffiti Wall Mohammed modern street and other places in the city but the wall is a place where you you put up stories of a revolution things have happened people that have died he put up the images and the next day or within a few days someone else perhaps the government comes and wipes it clean and painted over and then that same day graffiti artists come back and they do it all again and again and even now this is an ongoing struggle and what's amazing is that people dare even though it's going to get wiped away so you gotta come back and you got a pain something else on the wall I found this to be on a very personal level and and because so many people see these images amazing evolution uh in a battle within the battle really and that brings me to this whole question that people often ask you know what you think comes next
and we have all kinds of big conclusions the ones where the country collapses everybody balls in a ball of fire analyst thing but um when I look at the personal stuff what I see is
coming next is all time is going to pass and some of these things that I'm talking about will reach more people more families will work differently perhaps children will challenge parents parents may change the mentality workers may change the mentalities but it takes time so a lot of people think like we don't see results right now a lot of governments that have influenced like the American government for example I think you know would I see right now where is where is this democracy where is this new country now now now and of course if you slow down and think about it these things take a lot more
time and I think what comes next as time passes and some some of these beautiful examples become normal on a negative note uh 1 of the things that I worry about is that you have this
economic problems that you see everywhere we go there and I highly recommend going there and what I notice is the hundreds of step for if not thousands of people that have come back Egyptians that were abroad perhaps raise the broad perhaps just studying abroad all came home and decided is I can be easy them to come home and I'm going do a job and I'm going to be at my family that I'm gonna work to make this place better part of NGO as often as well but what I notices as things get even more difficult especially economically a lot of people are starting to look or been looking and saying I might not stay I came here because I want to build rebuild the country but this is too hard on how much longer I can last and what I'm wondering what I ask myself is is there going to be a 2nd brain drain and start to be negative about it's just something that I'm worried about and something I'd like to help with actually is how to keep all these very talented people who've come home as well as people who live in the country and never left from leaving the to steal to stay and do the work that's needed and that means a lot to ask of someone and it's something that I think maybe in the near future this sort of another train of the
country anyway I think about keep at that because I'm actually have time and have
fast perhaps but it was a wonderful journey and that some of the beauty of it was of course being completely crowdfunded so it was this relationship of recording the programs according to the interviews even talking about the process of getting these interviews directly with audience and audience telling us directly what they thought of it or how they did didn't enjoy it but and it's as always the only way that I wanna work but I sure I could prior write something for a newspaper but I'd much rather work directly with my audience and be a reporter that cuts out the middle man or woman and goes directly to to you so for that I I actually say
thank you to anybody who's sitting right here or was watching who helped fund this journey because a 30 minute talk couldn't do justice but uh the constant speaks for itself and it was a beautiful journey in a place where a lot of things are changing for the
better and of course a lot more changes have to take place for a better future that's it thank you
if you have a 10 2nd question you could ask a FIL 15 2nd question the 30 2nd question that all right we can also address them to those places itself the the it OK In my last sunset any process and discourage question and yes thank you for the for that uh talk at uh I was interested if you also talked to the younger journalists to just mention the the older ones and and uh at at belly knowledge uh last year I think it was knowledge from uh younger John lists women in their very disappointed uh about how everything change after the revolution again so what did you hear about that too short
all yet let me not uh and then again he's any Egyptian room would would jump on the chance I think that exaggerate that there are a whole slew of disappointments as well for people actually if anything I'm a little bit too positive because maybe I've had a decent you know 1 of my parents a cheery um but yes I mean that young and old but in your when you talk about younger generation is is quite frustrated and wanting better now than expected better so yes and what was very nice actually is thanks to Twitter thanks to all these networks of journalists especially photojournalists which are very popular with young people now being a photojournalist they were ready to accompany us from the beginning and because we're crowd from their project we could do something that is also needed we could pay them some for their work and so we had the luxury of having photojournalists come with us and take us around and without them I think we would've been just tourists I mean we are tourists but um so 0 yes I I got to hear a lot about the frustrations of the photographers I worked with were meant for the most part but I know of this also the issue of women I mean yeah uh I heard
that very often and here in the interviews to yes that yes but and you and thank you very much for the speech it's always interesting to listen to people with take 1st a closer look the into their systems How was your experience to get connected in and then it for example we know of China couple of things of are in Tunisia Egypt were hurt to similar situations was it for you very easy to to access the Internet during your trips or some so yes I mean I'm sure there's
much more to it but basically it was quite easy it's slow and frustrating and um i try very hard before a chosen place the state the state of private people and to make sure they had internet arrive would turn out would stop working a week ago and so what we would do is reduce mobile 3 G was it really treating all claims to be 3 G um internet you know like USB sticks and with the SIM cards so that was mostly the way including in Tunisia but that would be frustrating but thankfully were doing audio so we could crush the audio down and still keep the good quality and uh using the Internet that we have if we want to do video larger video that would have been a problem for the speech that we were working with a star sites being blocked don't know if I'm forgetting but um I did not have that issue no and FIL so it that I think there's also a fear that in the near future as this government still has a number of years left but they may get into the blocking business um at the and I don't know I don't know if they will I know that the court's very passionate courts in Egypt that would perhaps stand in the way but I know I did have a problem as a journalist with blocked sites thankfully things I know otherwise we can meet for a drink of
the over there are over there over there everywhere thank you yeah 5 thank
my my my in my if if I