Should I stay or should I go……that’s the dilemma facing a lot of our friends at the minute. Whilst the majority of Egyptians are over the moon at the prospect of Field Marshall Sisi becoming the next president a lot of the expatriate community and a tiny Egyptian minority, mainly those on twitter, is a little out of sync with the mood on the street. Stability is the buzz word, but I’m not seeing a lot of it.
No matter whom you ask the standard Egyptian response (in no small part due to state media brainwashing, oops did i say brainwashing out loud) is that “Egypt needs a strongman, Sisi is that man” well they’ve had strongmen for the last 60 years and look how well that worked out….
Quite frankly one of the saddest conversations I’ve had recently was with a very well educated and super smart Egyptian friend. I asked him what his plans were and his response made me so very sad. He said ” If I’m still here by October I will consider myself a failure” when I pushed him and asked where he would go he said ” anywhere that will take a 24 year old Egyptian ……..” the dots represent his profession, you don’t need to know.
Suffice to say that this young man is what Egypt needs, and lots more like him. The brain drain will take at least a generation to replenish, and the current climate won’t produce intellects that are questioning, logical or even rational. Combined with the fact they never bloody go to school, the national schools have been closed for over a month now, sorry I digress. Emotional nationalistic blackmail seems to be the order of the day. You are with us or against us, if you’re against us you are a terrorist, there is no middle ground.
That’s all very rich coming from me, an Irish expatriate who is doing what this young man aspires to do. I can’t really knock him, as soon as I finished university I was off. But it’s the reasoning behind the decision that’s so very different. It’s all very well leaving home to travel, see the world, catch a bit of sunshine or just to go somewhere to earn a few pounds, to experience different cultures, or whatever rocks your boat. To leave because you are frustrated, angry and despairing over the path your country is taking is something entirely different.
I could get on my high horse and say he should stay, his country needs him, and really it does need this guy, but truthfully if I was him I would go too. He is young, his whole life is ahead of him, at 24 I didn’t want the mantle of sorting out my country either, thankfully we had some elder statesmen who did. I’m not so sure Egypt has the same will, or want, to do so. Apologies to those who clicked the link expecting my usual fluff, but I care about this place and at the minute it’s doing my head in. Should I stay, or should I go, well I’m very lucky in that I have a choice, but I haven’t decided yet.
I’m still entertained by the daily sights, I love the friends I’ve made and something another friend said is nibbling at my brain. She said “I don’t want to leave Egypt on bad terms” neither do I. I don’t want the last few months to mar what has otherwise been a fantastic experience. Yes, I have “Bad Egypt Days” when the electricity cuts, the traffic, the perverts on the street grind me down. But and it’s it’s a really big but, if someone told me I’d spend the rest of my life here, I’d be pretty happy about it.
I will leave you with my new resolution; “I will not let the bastards grind me down” and there is always a ray of sunshine if you look hard enough
Photo is by the fantastic Mosa’ab Elshamy follow him on twitter @mosaaberizing