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Unplug and disconnect – two verbs that refer to precisely what I had to do when reading about the current events in Tahrir Square; when it became all too much to bear. The fact of the matter is that I cry easily – my heart is easily stirred and my eyes involuntarily hit a switch where tears pour forth. I have no control over this whatsoever, and wiping away tears with my cardigan sleeves has been a recurrent action this week, and it reached a point where I thought, Khalas – bas keda! Enough.

It’s horrifying watching the news, seeing barbaric violence and total disregard for the sanctity of human life. This is not a case of drawing lots on religious or political leanings, it’s about the values that we hold as people – as humans.

I was present during the 25th January revolution, was evacuated and returned, and at every instance I knew that it was only the beginning of a bigger struggle. I will not get into the politics of Egypt for two main reasons:

1) I’m not an Egyptian, I didn’t live as an Egyptian under Mubarak’s regime and frankly I don’t know what it was like.

2) Whatever I say makes absolutely no difference to the lives of the people living through the revolution’s aftermath.

However, I will say that a true revolution takes more than presidential/ parliamentary/ military change – change begins at home, and thus there is the missing element: the revolution of the self.

And just as the fog that’s been hanging over the skies of London finally lifted today, I pray that the fog of sense is lifted from the eyes of SCAF, as well as the fog of deception to be lifted from the short-sighted who cannot see what the revolution should really be about.

Praying for peace, progress and security,

LaYinka S. (The Londoner)


Story of an On The Run

I do not personally wish to delve into rhetoric about the recent looting and riots in London, because as it stands, I’m an outsider looking in as I have not lived in London for a year, and don’t feel best placed to pass opinion.

However, I witnessed part of the Egyptian revolution and could not have been more proud to have seen a country that had been silenced for 30 years, awake from slumber, and I only hope that the politicians in the UK do so before the country spirals into more destruction. And speaking of destruction, I witnessed just that outside my window during the Egyptian revolution at a Mobil/ On the Run petrol station.

From the time I moved into my flat last year, this petrol station had always been buzzing with vehicles passing for either a refuel of petrol or people stocking up on food and drinks (and in a lot of cases, cigarettes as well!).

Bustling with pollution

They decided to close shop on the morning of Friday 28th January 2011 – they could sense the dangers of the protests were bigger than most people thought…

Day of Protests, Day of Closure

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So…?! How is it?

You mean Cairo? Honestly, on the outside it looks pretty much the same, despite being very different.

Cars are still double-parked on the road, women still push and shove to get on the metro (despite clearly entering and exiting through the wrong doors), the leaves of trees are still camaflouged by dust, cars still sit bumper to bumper in traffic and they honk as loud as ever. Yes, this is still Cairo cosmetically, but I’m all too aware how the revolution has changed this bustling overcrowded city in ways people never thought it would.

I returned on Thursday 24th February, and upon stepping foot out of the airport, memories of my first time struck me quite clearly. This is definitely Cairo, and although the smell wasn’t offensive in the least, it was distinctly laced with Caironess (and please, don’t ask me what exactly that is… but if you’ve been here, you’ll know what I mean).

There was an obvious sign of change: army tanks dotted on our route home. They didn’t actually seem menacing, but more decorative – beige amongst the sepia of Cairo and the desert. An almost beautiful sight.

Upon reaching the entrance to the building I live in, a wide, bright smile cracked onto the face of the building’s doorman. It was as though he had been greeted by a long-lost sister. I guess he thought that I would never come back, but little did he know of my feelings of yearning to be back on sandy soil.

I will get back to posting about my adventures out here. I didn’t know how much I had taken Cairo for granted before the evacuation, and since returning I’ve made it my mission to get out more and see Cairo – it’s good, bad and beautiful.

It’s great to be home!

– The Londoner