15 February 2011
Egypt's 80 million people have been shouting at us lately. Local TV, radio and newspapers are filled with their recent happenings. In fact that country is sending warning signals out to many others not only in the Arab part of the world but to many other nations as well.
Many nations—Yemen, Algeria, Tunisia, etc.—are seriously taking note of the Egyptian events and studying closely what it means for them and their leaders. If the mighty could fall and so quickly, what does that say to other nations, smaller and less oppressive.
Over the past three weeks, Egyptian youth startled the world. Basically, in non-violent ways—thousand-people marches, camping out in public spaces, chanting and singing—they have managed to topple a dictator of 40 years, send him and his family packing and put on notice that the high and mighty military as well, to follow its lead or face the same rejection.
All this political turmoil happened without a gun in sight, a bullet fired—at least not from the protestors but only from those desperate to hang on to power, privilege and wealth. The youth involvement showed People's Power at its best. Yes it was a close call. Certainly and definitely dangerous since people had no guarantee that the military wouldn't mow them down like so much grass. But their freedom and liberty was worth it and so they stared down the military and more importantly, the dictator and his cronies.
These youth, society's poor, had little hope of securing meaningful jobs although blessed with many years of education and in many cases much better than their parents ever had. The old Egyptian regime had grown brutal, even murderous. However, the one area where the youth were strongest—the use of the computer, Twitter, cell phone—were the tools they used to topple the Old Guard.
Many times those at the top of the political ladder—cabinet, parliamentarians, civil servants, lobbyists, the Old Guard-- can hardly make their way around the simplest of computer programs much less harness its power to enhance their everyday political lives.
Youth on the other hand pressed home their advantage. They organized marches, talked to each other over cell phones and kept messaging hundreds and hundreds of their followers on a minute by minute schedule. The Old Guard worked on the out dated theory that if the media was controlled and directed then those opposing the regime would find it hard to do anything meaningful against it.
How wrong they were! In less than a month, thousands and thousands of Egyptian youth had out foxed, out smarted and out flanked the powers of the state which the Old Guard thought was unbeatable.
But is the Egyptian scenario saying anything to us sitting in 'far away' Solomons? First of all we are not 'far away' at all! TV, radio and the print media bring local youth into the international picture quite quickly. Secondly, the Egyptian youth's situation—poor, unable to get jobs, representing society's largest sector, better educated than their parents—are currently duplicated here in these islands as well.
No, fortunately, the murderous, repressive regime housed in Cairo is far from anything here in the Solomons. However, our youth are terribly upset to be experiencing first-hand the non-governance antics of the present government and opposition. Many youth ask themselves: What can we be doing to get our nation out of this mess? Does the Egyptian event have lessons we too should be learning?
Is the no-confidence vote the only, it certainly is not the best way, of resolving our disagreements? Can't 25 level-headed, fair minded Parliamentarians be found to lead the nation out of its impasse, work together to better the country and lead the majority of its poor people to prosperity?