The pathetic sight of a blasé Hosni Mubarak on Qatari TV station Al-Jazeera urging the feverishly brash and dogged protesters gathered in Tahrir Square to go home was a rather amusing but tragically pitiful affair.
With his hair perfectly coiffured, his skin calmly radiating in a glowingly restrained manner – his shirt neatly pressed – and tie done up in the old-school fashion typical of an uppity middle-aged English head teacher, everything about the former chief air marshal of Egypt’s air force was a sight to laugh at mostly.
His increasingly obnoxious and frantically comic arrogance betrayed a benevolent arrogance so many despots naturally exude in their choreographed dealings with the masses: The I-know-best and you-are-all-my-children archetypical arrogance.
This mattered not in the Arab Spring.
The people had grown tired of Mubarak rigging elections in his favour.
They had grown weary of his cronies callously looting state resources.
The defenceless masses gathered in Tahrir Square could sense history was on their side.
It had all started across the border in Tunisia.
Muhammed Bouaziz- a poverty-stricken Tunisian street vendor – had set himself on fire on 17 December 2001 in protest to the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he said was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aide.
His demise the next month sparked the genesis of the Arab Spring.
So the land of Egypt was ripe for change.
Rather oblivious to the political sand storms gathering in Cairo in 2011, Mubarak, a la Chemical Ali – Saddam Hussein’s merciless cousin- fought a cowardly war against the tsunami of history about to torpedo Egypt.
His nasty securocrats were a battle-hardened bunch.
They fought hard.
They fought dirty.
They killed unrelentingly.
Abl al rabie or Before Spring is an Egyptian movie about the true story of young blogger who lost his sight during the Egyptian revolution.
It is a detailed recollection of the advent of the Arab Spring in Egypt. The film won the Platinum International Humanitarian Award for 2016.
It’s also in the running for film of the year at the World Humanitarian Film Awards which are to be held in December.
Director Ahmed Atef painstakingly paints a landscape of socio-economic upheaval, vicious torture, crafty deception, deadly repression, wanton violence – gruesome death – through the vivid insights of a blindingly insightful revolutionary.
The film stars Ahmed Tawfik, Hanan Metawe and Hana Shiha.
Before Spring’s lucid portrayal of history, its dramatic impression of the impact of social media on Arab society, supremely captures the revolutionary mood of the times.
Egyptian activists skillfully utilised a plethora of social media platforms to evade the watchful gaze of the secret police and mobilise the youth. The bloggers shared their joys and pains via social media: conscientiously whipping up emotions and driving the youth into a revolutionary frenzy.
They also organised meetings, issued warnings, posted status reports.
Jolted into a panicky state of self-preservation Mubarak’s regime used the considerable state resources at its disposal to literally silence its opponents.
The regime-controlled courts played their part by confining activists to indefinite illegal imprisonment. State TV and radio fed the masses a steady stream of nauseatingly blatant pro-Mubarak propaganda. While state spies posing as agents of change flushed out hapless activists.
An air of deathly mistrust engulfed Egypt, taking with it thousands of young guiltless men and women.
Through all this drama Mubarak has done pretty well for himself.
He hasn’t lost his ill-gotten wealth.
Not much of the $US70 billion his family siphoned has been recovered.
He hasn’t lost his freedom.
In spite of all the charges laid against Mubarak and the laughable trials he’s faced – he’s a free man.
He hasn’t lost his sight.
He’s at liberty to see the utter chaos his deplorable 32 years in power have bestowed on his beloved Egypt.