May Kosba explores Egypt from different eyes.
As remarked by the Greek historian Herodutus “Egypt is the gift of the Nile” – A description encapsulating the unending source of sustenance of the Nile having played a crucial role in developing Egypt. Coming from a foreigner, the very description was heavily applauded by Egyptians. Having found its way in books, it continues to be learned by children at schools until today, becoming engraved in our collective consciousness and thus shaping the modern- day perception of “our” Egypt. The question, however, is how does the Nile’s gift look like now? It might take forever to gait through all the things which make-up modern Egypt.
Amidst all the globally enforced fast-pace filling our world, an insurmountable sense of loss has long dominated our behavior towards our country. This feeling stems from mourning disbelief at our thousands of years of history and civilization having vanished in thin air. Invaders succeeded to the land and left their marks, leaving the Egyptians with too many repercussions to deal with, not to mention globalization and its drawbacks. The Egyptian’s tolerance and coping have continually been put to the test.
In his novels of the mid-1900’s, prominent novelist Yusuf Idris conducted sociological research on the Egyptian society and described Egyptians as having suffered so many forms of oppression throughout history that they came to accept living with restrictions.
Egyptian’s passion for their country has taken an acute downward slope, yet rather than rocking the boat we continued to build on our endurance until an apathetic behavior syndrome seems to have settled in. This trend, passed down generation after generation, has yielded an unending state of chaos and reduces chances of revival with every passing day.
The non-Egyptian perspectives:
Scott, American tour guide for American tourists in Egypt :“Egypt is way ahead of most of the world when it comes to safety, politeness and helpfulness. But sadly, most Egyptians the ones who aren’t hassling tourists are totally out of touch of what’s going on in the streets. Tourists’ hasslers are the ones giving Egypt a horrible reputation, for example in places like central Luxor or the Giza Plateau it seems like there are probably 100 swindlers for every 1 honest Egyptian. Whereas if I go to Muqattam, for example, I’ll meet 100 honest people before one person tries to swindle me. But tourists don’t go to Muqattam… It makes me want to cry when I visit Giza and see the countless bags, bottles, food packages, and cigarette butts. Innumerable guards patrol the site, yet it never occurred to the government to clean the place up!”
Giovanni Divano Romano, 32, from Italy: “Even though I grew up in a big city like Rome, I was very impressed by Cairo, the sensation inspired by the Nile and the African sunshine or when I spotted the outline of the Pyramids standing out against the skyline, brought me a feeling of greatness that I had never experienced before that maybe compares only with a walk along the Fori Imperiali in a sunny day.”
Gopo, 32, from Bucharest Romania: “Many people ask me why I travel there so much, and why I like Cairo. It is the quality of people, their attitude in their daily life, meeting different obstacles, and the way I feel when I breathe Cairo’s air. Maybe many people will say Cairo doesn’t have “air”, but I miss that special gas we consider “air” here.
Andrea Viaggio, 35, from Italy: “Egypt is the most chaotic city I’ve ever been but it is very safe and the people in Cairo are friendly as much as in Naples, Lima. I love how Cairo is safe comparing to cities where you should check how many fingers you have left after you shake someone else’s hand.”
As Scott puts it “I love Egypt and its people, food, customs and attractions and I’ll continue to go there and spread the word to as many people as I can that Egypt is an amazing and important destination which everyone should visit.”
We will only snap out of our apathy if we begin to see “our” Egypt the way foreign visitors, the tourists, see it. Perhaps then the long-established tradition of adapting to a miserable life will begin to shake at its foundation. If Egyptians can comprehend that the glorious days of their ancient ancestors were the fruit of much toil, and not of solutions falling from the sky while they bemoaned their lot, maybe then our modern-day Egypt could set out on a new path. The love between the gift of the Nile and its dwellers needs to be rekindled. Herodotus must be turning in his grave.
Eye on Society – Greens mag (Ingenuity Issue)