Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Freedom Now

The people's bard reclaims his role as the gravelly-voiced chronicler of the struggle for freedom. Aged, hoary, and feisty as ever, the beloved Ahmad Fu'ad Nigm joined yesterday's gathering, "For Egypt...Baheyya," organised by Writers and Artists for Change. Joining him were actor Abdel Aziz Makhyun and writer Abdel Wahhab al-Messiri and a crew of Kifaya and Youth for Change folks. Writers and Artists for Change issued a statement saying in part, "Egypt is experiencing a historic predicament, and the prime responsibility lies with an autocratic, corrupt regime that does not represent the people. Exiting this condition requires effecting a bundle of real changes that have been agreed upon, in preparation for a transition to a pluralist, democratic society. A society that achieves the rotation of power, the meaning of participation, and the values of transparency and the safeguarding of citizens' dignity."

When Nigm leaves his perch up in Moqattam in the Rooftop Command Center (Magles Qiyadat al-Sutuh) and takes up his post among the people in the streets, I know all is well. "Girl, are you daft?" he berated me once when I doubted the capacity of Egyptians for action. He recited a rapid-fire series of proverbs about government and people, cracked some hilarious jokes, chased some of his stray chickens back into their coop, and tore off a velvety, fragrant leaf from one of the plants he was gently tending and told me to keep it. AFP Photo.