I was in Cairo in december 2013, not far behind Tahrir Square and less than 6 months after the events of June 2013 and the fall of the regime of Mohammed Morsi.
Thanks to my friends, I was able to go several time onto that famous square and around, having the opportunity to take pictures of local people living their usual life, far from all the violence we were used to see at the TV regarding the egyptian events.
During my stay there there’s been three bombing attacks against military bases and policemen but at no time I felt I was in danger, may be because people always keep smiling, to be kind with me. To be true, I felt… overprotected! Cairo is so huge that there was no chance that I am faced with an attack.
The following photo has been taken between December 5 and December 16th, in difference locations in Cairo but most of them directly on Tahrir Square or nearby around.
Children like to spend their time on the streets much of the day to indulge in their favorite games around the people who go about their lives. The streets are noisy with all these games and good mood is palpable everywhere you walk making this city a lively one in spite of the stifling pollution.
The most impressive is what these traders can put and store in very tight spaces! The ingenuity is appropriate and these storekeepers show imagination and a big sense of the arrangement! And keep in mind that the night, all the goods have to be under key inside the small house!
I could hardly believe that less than 6 months before more than 12 millions people were gathered there to protest against the government and brought it down in July. People were all very welcoming and friendly, smiling, intending to show that situation was back to normal.
Since the dawn of time, the shops, the expertise and the tools are passed from father to son. We often see young artisans in their early twenties at the head of their own business using 100 years old machines and tools that belonged to their grandfather or great-grandfather.
People are very happy to see foreigners walking the streets. I was approached and questioned on numerous occasions on the vision of Egypt that foreigners may have. Here, people seem to have been completely abandoned by the western in their struggle for freedom and they do not understand it!
The most worrying for this wonderful country is that tourists have deserted the destination because of disorders and insurrectional situation that is making the economy conditions complicated. The capital fled the country, numerous companies put the key under the door and the unemployment is omnipresent But despite that I had almost never seen so many smiling and caring people in the streets.
On leaving school, the oldest take a break at the café of their area for a cup of tea and often start working on their homework for the next day. Despite all the troubles, everyone here is aware that only education will enable the country to have a better future. Because here as somewhere else, the future rests on the education of the youngest and on their understanding of problems bound to this country situated in the confluence of the West and the East.
And it’s true, people live there as if nothing ever happened before. People have a tough live, they all mainly have their own shop or business, they start early in the morning and close late in the night. But it’s business as usual for them!
The shops open early in the morning and stay open until very late at night even when customers are scarce. In those quiet moments, the reading of newspapers often establishes the activity the most appreciated to pass the time. This seller of spare parts for cars chose as for him to kill time by means of its telephone.
Egyptians are proud to remind that at all times the country has been ruled by authoritarian and strong men in the service of the people. This is now pinning its hopes on the General Al Sissi who we can see on the picture at the back of this shop. Will he put the country back on the right path? Here, everyone wants to believe it!
The stalls of street vendors are mostly from the recovery of old cars that are fully disassembled and refitted. Here, for example, the fuel tank was reused as an area of storage for foul medames, the wings are the table bar, the hood becomes the kitchen area, etc. The foul is a dish of North Africa and the Middle East with beans. Calorie, protein, long to digest and especially little expensive, it is considered by Egyptians as a “donation of god “.
I’m pretty sure they already worked that much whether under Moubarak’s regime or Morsi’s government. Main difference is for sure that since 2011 tourists are much more rare and making money is much more difficult now that the country went through an economic collapse.
Winter is hard this year. The snow has arrived at the gates of the Egyptian capital and the sun is hidden by the clouds for several days. The cold is lastingly installed in the streets and locals are led to seek and carry combustibles for heating.
Al Ahram newspaper is the oldest daily paper, the most read and most spread by Egypt and by all the Middle East with an edition of more than one million copies. Nevertheless, his closeness with the successive military powers and the opening of the press less soft independent newspapers with the powers in position made him lose about 40 % of his electorate since 2011. This prompted the newspaper to change its mode of governance, its editorial line and to publish a supplement closer to aspiration of the youth of the country. A revolution is there also happening, the Revolution of the information.
Young people are deeply involved in the profound changes facing the country in the last 2 years. As in the middle of this street transformed into huge coffee, the young people like finding themselves in the evening around a good shisha to discuss. They command tea, coffee either karkadé and play the last video games on console or look at the European championships of soccer at the TV. It is then the opportunity for them to change the world up to the night end and for me to take the pulse of what they think of the situation of their country.
The Visa off Perpignan festival
The Visa pour l’image festival of Perpignan is the most famous photo reporter festival in the world. It takes place every year in September in Perpignan and gathers many professional reporter photographers. A parallel competition called “Visa off” is organized and lets to non-professionnal reporter photographers to attend the festival and compete in a dedicated section with more than 200 others photographers.
Exhibitions are in local restaurants or shops so as people can easily and directly access to the photos all in a very friendly atmosphere.
Above are the 15 pictures I’m going to send to the committee, with the hope to be selected to attend the festival and compete with other reporter photographers.
For the moment I’m not sure about how I’m going to name this exhibition in French.
I think to call it “La révolution normale“, but I’m not convinced yet.
Is someone have a better idea? I want a title saying that the revolution went through this country but people are still living the life they’re used to live since ever.
A printing of one of this 15 pictures to win if someone finds a nice title that I can use!