Stories from Quick Reads and Egypt
Wekesa Sylvanus hopes that 2015 will be a year of free and fair elections in Africa:
Since the advent of multi party democracy in Africa, electoral contests have become a do or die affair in majority of African countries. Elections in Africa are a high risk affair and in the recent times, they have been a trigger of conflicts. Kenya and Ivory Coast are good examples of how mismanaged elections can plunge a country into a conflict. Half a century after gaining independence, majority of African states have not got it right in terms of conducting and managing free and fair elections. The year 2015 will see a host of African countries go through elections. Presidential elections and/or legislative elections will be held in Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Togo, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Central Africa Republic, Burkina Faso, Niger, Guinea, Chad, and Egypt and may be South Sudan depending on the peace deal to be signed. Most of these countries have struggled to institute the practice of democracy in recent times. 2015 therefore presents a great opportunity for them to show the world that they have matured democratically.
A photograph showing crowds outside a popular Cairo liquor store is making the rounds online. On Twitter, Tom Gara shares it with his 27.9K followers:
Pic doing the rounds on FB of the scene at Drinkies, a popular Cairo liquor store, now that Ramadan is over. pic.twitter.com/VMsbiNtInH
— Tom Gara (@tomgara) July 28, 2014
Egypt, with a liberal alcohol policy compared to other Muslim countries, bans the sale of alcohol to Egyptians during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ended yesterday. This explains the scene Gara tweets.
An Egyptian activist has turned to YouTube to spell out his objection to the mandatory military service in the Egyptian army, compulsory for men aged between 18 and 30.
In an email sent to Global Voices Online, Adam writes:
I am Egyptian conscientious objector against serving in Egyptian Army because I hate wars and violence.I recorded that video in Arabic and translated in English.Hope you broadcast it on your TV channel so Egyptians and world can know my views because people like me who refuse to serve in Army are not heard from Media.I hope you help me because I want to free the Egyptian people from military rule and religious rule.I support Western democracy.
In this video, subtitled in English, Ahmed (Adam) says:
I am Ahmad (aka Adam) from Egypt. I'll talk to you about mandatory conscription in Egypt. I am totally against mandatory conscription, I refuse to serve in [the] Egyptian Army because it is a criminal army which killed thousands of protesters and innocent people in Mohamed Mahmoud Street and Tahrir Square in Cairo and many regions in Egypt.
The mandatory conscription is humiliation, enslavement, and forced labour to thousands of poor Egyptians who get conscripted every year to work in the private businesses and farms of Egyptian army generals without any pay or salary. Any any Egyptian soldier [who] served in the army knows very well how large credits the army generals own in their bank accounts. Also, army generals own lots of real-estate property obtained in an illegal way. They rob the country's wealth and assets.
Mandatory conscription is not found in any developed country, any Western country, nor the USA.
Egyptian blogger Nadia El Awady wrote a blog post in which she questions if women wearing Hijab face discrimination in western countries or not. Nadia, as an Egyptian who grew up in the US and lived prolonged periods in Europe, adds from her personal experience in regards to reactions she received in both Eastern and Western countries when it comes to wearing the Hijab or even taking it off.
During all those years, I have been without the hijab, with the hijab, wearing a very long hijab (called a khimar), wearing a face veil (called a niqab), back to wearing a shorter hijab and finally, now, no hijab at all. I’ve done it all. I’ve seen all the reactions. The way I have dressed over the years may have been accepted by some in my inner circles and criticized by others; this is true. How a woman dresses is a highly contentious subject no matter where you are in the world. When I donned the face veil, my own father was against it. When I took off my hijab, I lost at least one good friend and was tsk tsked by many others. These are normal reactions and they are to be expected. I do not categorize these reactions as discrimination. Friends and family have definite ideas of how they expect me to live my life. They believe they know what is best for me.
The Women's Rights Campaigning: Info-Activism Toolkit by Tactical Technology Collective is a new guide for women's rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community based organizations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning. This has been developed in collaboration with advocacy organizations from Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Kenya and Egypt.
Max Chalmers, from Australian independent online media site New Matilda, welcomes the release of Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste after 400 days in Egyptian prison. He also calls for “the speedy release of Greste’s colleagues who remain behind Egyptian bars”. However, he questions Prime Minister Tony Abbott's support for media freedom in a speech following the news.
[Abbott's] own government has been responsible for a crackdown on press freedoms more generally, and as he moved on to warnings about a new age of terror he laid the groundwork for yet more intrusive and draconian legislation.
Sean Jacobs writes about American author and poet Maya Angelou, who died at age 86 yesterday May 28, 2014:
In 1961, Maya Angelou, already a civil rights worker, and her then partner Vusumzi Make, an exiled activist from South Africa (he was a leading Pan Africanist Congress member), moved to Cairo, Egypt, where she found work at a small radical newspaper. One year later, Angelou and Make broke up and she moved to Ghana with her son. There they joined a small, tight-knit expatriate African American community that included the great scholar and activist W. E. B. Du Bois, the writer William Gardner Smith, lawyer Pauli Murray, journalist Julian Mayfield, and sociologist St. Clair Drake. Angelou continued her work as a journalist and also worked as an administrator at the University of Ghana. Angelou made such an impression on her hosts honored her with a postal stamp. It was also during this time that Malcolm X visited Ghana; a meeting which prompted her move back to the US in 1965 to help Malcolm X build his Organization of Afro-American Unity. Shortly after her return, Malcolm X was assassinated.
The website Histoire Africaine/African History [fr] narrates the tale of the oldest love story ever told, the story of Osiris and Isis [fr] and explains what makes it stand out [fr] from the other love stories. Osiris was the king god of Egypt and Isis his queen. Set, his brother, murdered Osiris to take over the kingdom. Isis find and restore Osiris’ body, resurrecting him and they conceive their son Horus. The author writes that the story is rich of lessons for the African continent [fr]:
While Osiris is rightfully mentioned at every funeral because he was the One who first attained the eternal life, one must note the crucial role that Isis played in allowing Osiris to persevere. She embodies the concept of love, the one that never gives up, that rescues loved ones and frees them from darkness.
Tom Devriendt lists 10 documentaries to look out for at the Luxor African Film Festival:
The third edition of the Egyptian Luxor African Film Festival again has a wide-ranging programme scheduled for next month. Selected films will be showing in different competitions: Long Narrative, Short Narratives, Short Documentaries and Long Documentary. Below you’ll find a couple of the selected documentaries’ trailers (set in Togo, Senegal, Ghana, Somalia, South Africa, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Angola) that were recently uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo, plus links to the films’ websites — where available.
Women's rights campaigning is the focus of a new info-activism toolkit by Tactical Technology Collective.
The toolkit is particularly useful to women's rights activists, advocates, NGOs and community-based organisations who want to use technology tools and practices in their campaigning.
It includes step-by-step guides from basics like how to launch a campaign to more complex issues such as digital security and privacy.
The Toolkit was developed as part of a project with CREA, along with seven partner organisations
based in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and East Africa. It is now available in English only but will soon be translated into Arabic, Swahili, Bengali and Hindi.