Live From Egypt: Restoration, Camaraderie….and Oprah?

by Jon L. Denby

 Photo by Mohamed Ghanem

"Hey Mubarak, nobody likes a quitter!”, "Mubarak is the Brett Favre of presidents," and other jokes have kept spirits high and alive here in Egypt's capital. For Mubarak and his entire party, the party is over. Moral has also been maintained by what we will call the "Restoration Project" (as can be seen in the accompanying photos). No, it is not an official name, but rather a name I personally like to call the cleanup of Cairo, and will continue to call it. The particular reason why I am calling this event the “Restoration Project” is because Egypt did not die—hence there is no reason to call it a resuscitation project, nor was it even broken enough to be called a rebuilding process. Egypt was merely dormant, stuck in a time thirty years earlier than where you are now. This restoration project has been primarily lead by young people in their teens and 20s. They have been flooding each others’ Facebooks with invites to events to clean the streets, paint the sidewalks, and paint Egyptian flags everywhere (and, for the tree enthusiasts, we inquired as to whether the tree could be negatively affected by the paint, and it turns out that the trunk will be just fine. We were told to stay away from leaves and roots).

The recent success of the protests and uprising in Egypt has inspired many similar uprisings in much smaller institutions in society. Where exactly? Well, for starters, in the universities. For example, I am a college student here in Egypt in a private university. Prior to Mubarak’s fall, there was no student union or any sort of student representation with the university’s administration. The Deans, and those responsible, got word of a possible student protest and quickly made it clear that they would like to speak to student representatives to try and work out a reasonable agreement as far as tuition, exam schemes, rubrics, exam/class time, and academic probation was concerned (other topics ranged from bathroom cleanliness to lab improvements).

As far as the Egyptian people themselves, they seem to have this new "lean on me, and I'll lean on you" concept of brotherly cooperation. While working on the cleaning and painting, people would come down to the streets with tea, food, drinks and my favorite soda (which is Pop for those who follow in the south). While purchasing the paint and brooms, the owners of the stores gave us nearly a 75 percent discount, while others just gave them away. Since everyone became closer to their neighbors and got to know each other a lot better, people in general seem a lot nicer to each other. They seem to be happy with the unity and all the new friends everyone has made.

Oh, and by far the best news we got this week: everyone's favorite richest woman in the world is reportedly going to host a show in Tahrir Square! Yes, that's right, Oprah! This could be the best thing to happen aside from the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak. I know I'll be there. Maybe she'll even buy me a car! Wishful thinking, maybe, but at least now I know it’s not impossible!

Hope you all have a wonderful day! Cheers! Stay tuned for more updates from the revolution.

P.S. Now, I'm sure a lot of you guys may have some questions, comments and all that jazzy stuff. Feel free to email them to Jonathan, or me at, or on Twitter for live info @MoIsWhatWeAim4. In the e-mail, just include your name, and the comment/question, and I will either answer with a reply or directly in my next entry!

Attached, I sent two pictures of tanks in the streets of Cairo during the protests about a month ago, and attached as well are two pictures I took from my camera phone (which explains the poor quality) several days ago.

Photo by Mohamed GhanemPhoto by Mohamed Ghanem

Mohamed Ghanem is a contributing correspondent based out of New York City.