Tag Archives: Egypt

you say you want a(nother) revolution…?


revolution                                                               © erin dunigan 2013

Because I don’t have a tv, I am not accustomed to the 24-hr a day news stream put forth by the American media outlets. So, I was somewhat shocked to begin hearing that folks who get their news from such outlets were using words like coup and seemed skeptical and somewhat doubtful about the people’s revolution unfolding in Egypt, as opposed to the celebratory sense I got from those actually on the ground in Egypt. 

Here it is, July 4. The day we celebrate our independence – and yet we cannot celebrate with another people’s revolutionary movement, half a world away? This, to me, seems odd, and a bit sad.

Why wouldn’t you be celebrating? I wondered to myself.

Haven’t you seen the images that have been coming from Egypt, the images of hundreds of thousands (and many say millions) of Egyptians taking to the streets to stand for ‘Egypt?’ Can you not see what I’m seeing? How is your view of the same events so different?

Perhaps I got it wrong – perhaps I missed something.

But, upon further checking with friends in Egypt – friends from many different places and sources, the message was clear and it was unanimous – this is a good day for Egypt, for Egyptians. This is a people’s revolution against a sect that had tried to hijack the events of January 2011. So, rather than sit back in resignation, the people decided to take their revolution back.

It is a beautiful story. A story of courage. A story of hope. A story of unity amidst so much diversity – Christian and Muslim, just to name one of the most obvious factors to be seen amongst the protestors.

Of course this is just the beginning. Of course the ‘work of democracy’ is hard and messy and not always linear. Of course it is something that can be hijacked (again) –  but this is precisely what gives these days hope – that the people have awakened from their slumber and have come together to say ‘enough’ – or, in the Arabic slogan for the June 30 re-revolution, تمرد, tamarod, rebel.

It was said during the January 2011 revolution that there were those called couch potatoes, the couch potato party – those who did not come down from their high-rise apartments to join in, but who stayed safely upstairs in their apartments, on their couches – what we might call armchair quarterbacking. Those who did not want to get involved, get messy, or participate in the demonstrations but who preferred to hang back and see how it all played out.

It seems that we in America, sitting in front of our TVs, safely on our couches, are more prone to provide commentary than commendation, to be cynical rather than celebratory.

I wonder if, on this July 4th, as we celebrate our freedom, hard won, often fought for, if we might also take a moment to celebrate ‘revolution’ – for that too, is in our history, in our heritage.

Revolution – a sudden, radical, or complete change, a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something, a change of paradigm.

I wonder if we too might not need a bit more ‘revolution’…

photo: melon cart

melon cart      Cairo, Egypt
© 2009 erin dunigan


Like many images, I didn’t set out to ‘capture’ this one–it just presented itself along the way to somewhere else. An image, quite literally, of the ‘journey’ becoming the destination.

I was in Cairo, Egypt, for two days. In the evening I decided to walk down the street from the seminary where I was staying. What struck me about this house of prayer was the brightness of the yellow, contrasted with the design on the door, of the gate, and the tiled floor–the lines that seemed, in a sense, to draw one into the frame.

At first I walked past. But I was drawn back. It was the open door that compelled me. Drew me in. That is when I made this image.

enter, Cairo Egypt
© 2009 erin dunigan

Day 16: walk like an egyptian


sphinx profile

sphinx profile

Mina, my host and tour guide in Cairo, warned me that Egyptians are crazy, especially in driving. I thought he was kidding. I thought wrong.


There are no lanes on the roads in Cairo. There are also no crosswalks. What I thought was a crazy game of human frogger in Chiang Mai was nothing compared with the Egyptian version–sometimes crossing 6-8 lanes of fairly rapidly moving traffic. It really was impressive to watch, but a bit nerve wracking as well.

In addition to watching human frogger, I did also get to see the pyramids and the sphinx today. Wow.

It was pretty crazy to be seeing something right there before me that I have read and heard about for so long. Pretty awe inspiring.

Day 15: Cairo arrival—we’re not in Thailand anymore, Toto

When I booked my ticket the only way to get a flight from Bangkok to Paris was to change planes in Cairo. I figured, if I’m going to change planes there, why not see the pyramids?

I’m being hosted in Cairo by the Evangelical Theological Seminary, which has many connections with the Presbyterian Church, USA. It is great to be part of a ‘connectional’ church!

After a bit of settling in, resting, and a traditional Egyptian breakfast of beans, pita bread and cheese, I headed out with Mina, a member of the seminary staff and my tour guide for the two days, to the Egyptian Museum. I did get interviewed on ‘Nile TV’ so if anyone happens to get that channel, I’m pretty sure I’m famous.

The Egyptian Museum has more sarcophoguses (does that make them sarcophogai?) than you can believe. It is also the location for the King Tut treasures. This was actually my second time seeing them, as I had the opportunity when they came to LA to see them as a young child. They were no less stunning this time, though minus the La Brea tarpits…

Cairo is an incredible city. I feel almost like I am in a movie, it is so completely other than anywhere I’ve been before.

A few Cairo impressions:

•    It is ‘cold’ here…I say that because I think it is probably in the low 70’s, but compared to the high 90’s of Bangkok, low 70’s feel cold enough to wear my fleece. Just wait til Belfast…
•    I’ve yet to see one woman on the street, other than myself, walking around with her head uncovered. Most are just covered, not veiled, but I did see one woman without even so much as an eye opening. I feel a bit naked with an uncovered head.
•    Cairo is a dirty city. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way—it is simply a description. When you are surrounded by a dry, sandy/dirty desert, it seems inevitable that buildings, roads and sidewalks would wind up covered in dust and dirt.
•    I think Cairo may be the most ‘foreign’ feeling place I’ve been yet. (Actually, it’s not foreign here, I am.) I’m not sure why this is. I think part of it has to do with the covering of the women’s heads—I feel as though I stick out not only for being white and blond, but also for being uncovered.  Also, at least in the parts I’ve been in so far, it seems to be much less taken over by Western or global franchises. That said, the place recommended for me to get dinner tonight did happen to be a Pizza Hut. But, I had to walk about 15 minutes to get there, and past nothing else recognizable to my western sensibilities. Except for Pepsi.
•    Coke has lost the battle to Pepsi in this part of the world.
•    Mosques are everywhere. I love the sound of the call to prayer, though I’m guessing when it happens early tomorrow morning I might not love it as much.

Tomorrow Mina is going to take me to the pyramids, as well as to some Coptic churches, and hopefully to Old Cairo.  Should be fun, and hopefully some good photo ops…