Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Don't cut the trees

Pillars of society are often viewed as the dynamics of a people; culturally and progressively deemed to shape a community and thus enrich its soil. But, without oxygen released from nameless trees, from the little people with no post-nominal or disgnatory letters to their name, no particular prowess or affiliation to grandeur of status, there would indeed be a vacuum; there would be nothing there to absorb the carbon dioxide: Fumes released by regalia and hoo-ha of political debate and referendum. Balance would never be addressed and general conditions would forever worsen to the point of extinction.
Tahrir Square and Cairo during the revolution, Jan/Feb. 2011
However, the population from the "ashwa'iyat" was not at the forefront of this revolution, although it clearly took part in it (we see this in the police stations that were burnt in some of these areas on the Angry Friday). Thirty per cent of the population still does not hold an identity card and, most probably, people from the "ashwa'iyat" represent a large part of these thirty per cent. To enter Tahrir we needed to show our Egyptian ID.

If trees are left unattended for too long or worse still deprived of water and essential nutrients, quite literally so, their chance for survival would be nil. Everything that lives relies on undergrowth; the cycle cannot be complete without it. From its roots emanates life itself. Without trees in a forest, a jungle, a paradisiacal garden even ~ life expectancy would be manifestly decreased. Trees condition the air we breathe, replete the oxygen of life itself.
Chatoyant Crumbs:
Last year’s UN Human Development Report for Egypt declared that many of the nation’s young people are trapped in ‘waithood’, defined as a prolonged period “during which they simply wait for their lives to begin.” “It’s not as if we want to sit here passively and accept the situation,” Shamad added. “The problems come from the government, but the instinct of our generation is to avoid the state, not confront it. I know that there are big demonstrations planned for next Tuesday, but we’re taught from birth to be fearful of the police. They know how to hurt you, and hurt the ones you love.”

The poorer quarters of a city are only so because of neglect. So long as the hierarchy continues to neglect its people the longer the people have to wait and the more extensive the slums become. Recognition is necessary for an existence; for its validation. Without attention to slums, urban development is unsustainable. Slums exist worldwide but a country that continues to dismiss and ignore its people risks the crumbling of the plinth it operates from. Attend to corners and the centre will take care of itself. Slums are the residue of what is thrown out; they may always exist but cannot be altogether dismissed without consequence. When undergrowth is neglected it can take over making it hard for the delicate buds of Spring to flower. There must be balance in all things. Just like the 'Champs Elysées' of urbanity, so the poorer quarters need to be considered if potential that lies within is to have any chance of survival. Apart from inherent crafts and skills, history has proven time and time again that the most wondrous talent and accomplishments often find their origin in the very slums of our existence.

Tahrir Square and Cairo during the revolution, Jan/Feb. 2011
The big economic slump we are now experiencing affects primarily the poorer sections of society. If a new system, a new kind of democracy, not one cut and pasted from the existing failing Western democracies, can really be implemented, then hopefully the "ashwa'iyat" will also benefit from this revolution. However, as we saw, hope is in the people. The people's "plan" is to clean Egypt from its corrupt regime and literally every area of the city will be cleaned one after another by volunteering citizens, just like Tahrir Square was cleaned and repainted after the departure of Mubarak. There is hope for every soul.

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