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A letter from Egypt: ‘Nothing is more uncertain than tomorrow’

10 July 2013

Sarah El Ashmawy, MRG’s Egypt Programme Coordinator, writes a letter from Cairo to her colleagues, expressing her thoughts on Egypt’s recent protests and political turmoil.

Dear all,

For those who have met me, my passion about my country is sincere, and something that I am more than proud to let show. For those who have not met me yet and only heard of the Egypt Programme, MRG’s work has directly contributed to my sense of belonging to the revolutionary Egypt which wants to see a new face for the thousands-year-old nation.

Protests in Tahrir Square, Egypt
Demonstrators pack Tahrir Square, Cairo, in January 2012, to mark the anniversary of the start of the protests in 2011. Credit: MRG/Mark Lattimer

On the eve of the 30th of June, with all the hopes and dreams that each one is carrying in his heart before going to sleep tonight, I found myself with an urge to write to my colleagues, so I just sat with my laptop to type this letter. I would like to share a bit with people who I believe share passion for justice and equality.

Two years after the revolution and a year after the first democratic elections, I can sincerely say that revolution is draining and democracy is scary. To dive into Egypt’s problems and tackle them will, most of the time, make you feel like structural problems are infernal and that only the end of days will bring them to a stop on this land. So much resistance for change, so much fear of the unknown and a sad nostalgia for the prisoner we knew well. Nothing is more uncertain than tomorrow, and this had become increasingly difficult to turn into the realization that so much is possible because so little is certain.

There is nothing beautiful about revolution, but everything is liberating. At some moments, some golden moments that only present themselves at a glance, you will find yourself making your own internal revolution. Reaching for new people, leaving old thoughts, opening your eyes for new models and potential. These golden moments constitute the light inside the scared creature and you suddenly think that maybe you can defeat this structure by your actions. The bravery is addictive, and you cannot bear the idea of the coward. Eventually, something like tomorrow happens out of people’s dreams that the tomorrow we want for our children has to be possible, or else, why were we born?

Protesters in Tahrir Square
Protesters in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in January 2012. Credit: MRG/Mark Lattimer.

We know that life will go on in the world, so why should it stop for us. But history is only complete if small insignificant voices do tell the story of what is happening somewhere and sometime.

This is my small contribution to you, for you to realize that while your daily life is happening wherever you are, something exceptional in the history of a nation is happening too. At the very same time. And that I thought you deserved to have an insight, a peek into the mess.


This article reflects the opinion of its author only and does not engage MRG’s responsibility.