I haven’t posted anything in a while, but I also haven’t found anything cool to post in a while. I JUST DID. And it’s beyond awesome. Now apparently, there’s this Egyptian band called Baraka Band and they’ve been formed since 2007. They’ve been doing new covers for old Egyptian revolutionary folk songs, particularly those by the composer Sheikh Imam and vernacular poet Ahmad Fouad Negm, and I love their new modern takes on the classics.
This song is about Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, president of France’s visit to Egypt. The words of Ahmad Negm are just a brilliant pisstake at how his visit means splendor and prosperity for all Egyptians, so much that even poor people will afford to eat potatoes. Maryam Saleh’s delivery is just impeccable on this, she never misses a beat and did more than authentically translate Negm’s sarcasm into song. The song itself is cheerful circus music, which I find brilliantly illustrates the charade that surrounds these official visits.
For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to put the chaos of ideas that are into my brain into well-formed ideas, and words, but I just can’t keep up with my eagerness towards making this one project called Nessa’ succeed, so I decided to write this blog post to make sure the idea gets to as many people as it can. I believe that our society is inherently unjust, in so many ways, and towards so many groups of people, but the thing that irks me the most is how unjust we are to women, and that includes women being unjust with themselves. I’m not saying we’re bad people, or that we’re evil, there’s just lots of ignorance going around.
And ignorance is what I decided to tackle. Not all ignorance is intentional, sometimes you can be ignorant about something because you’ve never had the chance to learn about it, or because it’s an obscure science. Women’s rights isn’t quantum physics, and it shouldn’t be treated that way. I like to read, and I always feel surprised when I read about an Arab women’s right activist from the 1800s or so, or even the early 90s. The information you find online about them is scarce and often wrong, or biased. That has to change now, for the better, and with all what’s going on around us, people are finally starting to believe in the power of online activism.
It’s vital that we preserve their memory now before it’s too late. Whether by organizing wikipedia projects, scanning and transcribing old books, or by interviewing people, we will try to make each and every precious nugget of information available and reachable to everyone. It is, however, a big and ambitious project, and it needs volunteers and support if it’s going to work. I managed to convince a small group of commited people already, and we’re busy setting up some sort of structure to set things into motion. I urge you all to connect with the project page on Facebook until we have the website ready, and feel free to share your thoughts, here, or there, or on our email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out Harassmap.org if you haven’t already, it’s a nice creative use of the Ushahidi platform and its Frontline SMS addition. It’s a great example of a platform encouraging people to participate in citizen journalism to highlight important issues, and then visualises their impact on society. I think maps are one of the best visual tools to display such data, but in all, I’m just glad women are speaking out against harassment.
Another example of an Arabic website using Ushahidi to promote citizen journalism is the Lebanese election monitoring website, Sharek961 (and it’s Egyptian MB-sponsored copycat, Shahid2010).