A recent article at ahram online triggered this post, a piece starting with this sentence: Ramy Essam’s new song, ‘We Don’t Belong to Them,’ gives voice to those caught in the middle of Egypt’s Islamist-military tug of war. That caught my eye, because those in the middle, those without an authoritarian solution, those without leadership, seem to be of many voices. Strategically and tactically confused as I wrote earlier, and more often than not putting any short-term expectations of positive change, and the label revolution with it, back into the cupboard of fairy tales, with all the painful emotions that go with shelving one’s hopes.
So I watched, then watched some of his other stuff, and this is the story as I hear it. It all started during those extraordinary 18 days in 2011:
Then there is this period of hope, Mubarak gone, change may actually happen. Messy, contested visions for the future, but hope. And Ramy puts stuff out like this (which include some main characters of that fabulous movie Microphone):
The year after, with Morsi in charge and the repressive state apparatus unchallenged, he releases this on the international day to end impunity, just in case anyone had forgotten what the revolution had been about (beware, the images are explicit):
This short documentary shows him explaining his disappointment but defiant:
Then look at hope rekindled in the crowd’s reaction to his cover of Cairokee’s esbat makanak, hold on to your position, in the build-up to the ‘second revolution’ (for the original with translated lyrics, watch here):
And now watch his new video. Still very much determined, but something in the heart seems to have changed. To me it’s painful to watch. As with all judgements, this tells you more about me than either Ramy or Egypt. Maybe, this is exactly what those in the middle need. Who is to say. I hope he is right.