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On the ramifications of the Egyptian revolution

Ambassador Hossam Moharam's invitation card to me read that I was being invited to a reception to celebrate the "first anniversary of the 25th of January Revolution". It is slightly over a week since the reception at the Egyptian ambassador's residence here. And as I glanced the invitation card then, I told myself that it was an occasion I wouldn't afford to miss given uniqueness of the Egyptian Revolution and its watershed dimensions.

As I turned out at the reception, a little late for some reasons, I made an official receiving guests at the reception burst into laughter when I told him: "I am straight from Tahrir Square! I had to attend to some unfinished business!" Well, I believe I was not the only invited guest who was excited to attend that reception to celebrate the first anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution. Egypt, an ancient land of civilization, has, at this hour in history, offered modern day world a paradigm on how to effect change of a regime, which is not responsive to the aspirations of its people.

Of course, we are all used to the word "revolution" and have seen and read about revolutions which, most and, by and large, have been armed revolutions that have taken place elsewhere. If we have to talk of armed revolutions, we can start with Egypt itself. We see Col Gamal Abdel Nasser at the head of "free officers" overthrowing an Egyptian monarchy. We see Fidel Castro of Cuba at the head of a guerrilla army entering Havana from the Sierra Maestra Mountains to seize power from an American backed military junta in 1959.

But by and large, most of the revolutions we can recall in recent history have been armed ones. But rare are revolutions which have been centred on people's iron resolve to effect change. In Egypt, Africa's northern gatekeeper and citadel of ancient civilization has offered the world another leaf in civilized conduct - that it is possible to remove an inept and corrupt regime by sheer massive popular protests without resorting to arms.

Surely, it was breath taking for all of us, glued to our television sets in weeks before January 25, 2011. With climax demos every Friday, Cairo was impassable given the endless sea of people converging at the Tahrir (Revolution) Square in downtown Cairo city. Millions of these people joined by their brethren across the country were saying in one voice: "We want you out of Ikulu (State House) Mr Mubarak".

If you have millions of people demonstrating and protesting every day, wishing to see your back, what do you do? President Mubarak, using all tricks and indeed all sorts of intimidation and violence against his people, the iron will and resolve of the people of Egypt did not crack. He had no option but to bow out - and down he went and straight to prison.

But the people of Egypt, as it has turned out in the intervening period, are not satisfied with the gains they have made. They have been back at Tahrir Square, this time demanding for genuine transfer of power to representatives of the people. Elections have since been held. But it is a process, which is yet to conclude. But for the rest of us people in this mutual world we share, what are the ramifications; the lessons that must be drawn from the Egyptian example?

In the intervening period, a phrase has catch up - that is - the Arab Spring. And this phrase has caught up immediately after the Egyptian Revolution. A number of countries in the Maghreb that is in Tunisia, Libya and others in the Middle East such as Syria and Yemen have erupted in rebellions of their own at the heels of the Egyptian paradigm.

In my prism, the most interesting and remarkable aspect in the Egyptian footsteps was the Tunisian Revolution. The spontaneity and thrust of the uprising in Tunisia appeared to take the Egyptian leaf. Save for Libya, the uprising appeared homegrown, with no evidence of foreign interference as we saw in Libya.

If you have foreigners imposing a "no fly" zone in your country, what does this imply? Would you say the concerns of foreigners in a given country are the same as those of its citizens?  That is beside point of the focus of this perspective! What is most important is the paradigm offered by the Egyptian Revolution, which, as it would seem to me, is a process that is yet to find its logical conclusion.

That logical conclusion will have to embrace one factor: the ultimate triumph of social-economic justice. Secondly, that logical conclusion will have to embrace the quest for genuine political and economic independence. The common factor for us all in the developing world is how the national cake is divided. It is how the country's natural resources are harnessed in the interest of the people of a given country.

No citizen anywhere would be smiling at his leaders whose children live an opulent life or are at best designated successors! No citizen anywhere would be respectful of a leader who is a marionette - a mere shadow of others. So the Egyptian Revolution offers a challenge to countries elsewhere on what people's power means and what genuine independence ultimately implies.

E-mail: makwaia@makwaia.com

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Author: MAKWAIA WA KUHENGA

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