Wednesday, June 07, 2006

What else do we need...

The death of a movement. The rise of another.

This is an interesting article in Al Adab magazine by Ahmed Bahaa el Din Shaa'ban on the youth movement in Egypt.

And here are others on youth movements in Syria, Jordan and Morrocco.

He talks about how it started in 46 as a student and labor movement and how it grew in influence and power through the 50's and till the 70's when efforts to repress the students' political activism started. 'El taleb taleb 3elm we bas..'. He describes how formal policies were actually enacted to de-politicize school curriculums, and student activities, so that even 'national' activities or events were transformed to ensure de-politicization. He highlights a particular incident in the transformation, where once revolutionaries and activists were hosted at universities (from Palestine, Africa and all around the world); religious figures replace them.

Shaaban seems to theorize that the de-politicization was replaced national political interests with religion and other forms and interpretations of nationalism and so; it unravelled. Also about the sort of mystification or 'fear' that was built around politics and the idea of political activism, that carried through and killed the movements until very recently. You watch a movie like el Karnak and you don't wonder why.

Although there are many aspects of his argument that are debatable, as he proceeds to describe the death of a movement and the rise of another; i am once again astonished at the extent to which education (not only curriculum but also, the university as development of ideology and not only technocratic, and university as site for movement and organization) and culture (culture as in the core values, and the medium and context through which it is disseminated) had such an affect on both fueling and quelling the movements..

It gives us so many clues and hints to what could or should be done.
In terms of education, it is quite clear. We don't need to inflitrate it with politics and socialist , communist and capitalist strategies masalan, bas at least the values of all these ideologies should be there for people to draw upon, or not. Also i think the youth and student movements are crucial to mention, because they did play a role in the shaping of our history and our nations, and because quite simply, they are the story of our our parents' struggles. And possibly grandparents before them.

And it isn't only education. I attended a Jaheen (bahaa' jaheen) singing and poetry reading night at Townhouse gallery around 3 years ago, and the energy and enthusiasm that stirred through the audience once he started singing 'EL share3 lenna', was ubelievable..
It was mainly the generations of the 60's and 70's, but even the younger and older generations, got up , so that barely anyone was sitting down. Fists raised in the air, and all the voices raised in unison, repeating the phrase over and over, until at times the melody was lost, and the fists and arms pumped in a way that was almost militant.
It's nothing we really need to 'create', just revive.. And we have all the tools to do it.

The strength of youth/students in the movements for change also date back to the the 1919 revolution, which seems to have been sparked from the faculty of law at cairo university. At the time, an established executive committee organized by the students to plan and organize activities in the different cities and provinces, apparently met at beyt el umma (Sa'ad Zaghloul's house) twice a week, until he helped it's leader, Hassan Yasin, win a seat in parliament as a wafd state candidate. Imagine that, a student representative in parliament.

Why does it amuse you and at once make all the sense in the world?
And why does it seem so unheard of, and so far-fetched right now. What gave the students in 1930's the power and ability to influence all the members of the political parites, el Nahas included to form a united front. And they called the 30's , the years of youth...?

What did the students have in the 30's that we don't. We who now are much more aware of our rights and abilities, and have not only our experiences but those of generations and generations that have preceeded us in our countries and in so many others to recount.
In my opinion; what they, the youth members of the South African congress, the students in Iran (that also mobilized de-politicized scholars and clergymen), and the students in El Salvador (that declared universities as the 'conscience of a nation') is a vision, or more like a dream they had of how the world should be, and the will and passion to call for it or pull it through.

I am not calling for us to head to the streets, and i'm not calling for 're-politicization' either. Just thinking out-loud, genuinely wondering. If there is latent energy there then let's revive it.

If there is one thing we all learnt in school, it's that energy is never lost or gained, it is only changed.

Now all we need is a beyt el ummah :)

1 comment:

salah said...

all we need is "just another break in the wall" !!!