Though the Egyptian revolution has moved from the spotlight as far as major US media outlets are concerned, the efforts of Egyptians have remained unceasing in ensuring the transition to democracy that Hosni Mubarak's absence has made possible. Since February, Egypt has seen continued demonstrations in Tahrir Square, as Egyptians dissatisfied with the mere departure of Hosni Mubarak have continued to call for constitutional amendments, and for true reforms in military and government rule. Since February, Egypt has seen an historic and controversial referendum, in which a record 41% of the population voted - a percentage unmatched in many decades of referendums. In short, the on-going revolution has sparked a spirit of civic engagement and empowerment that few of the young generations have ever known, and few of the older generations can remember.
This level of civic engagement and participation has not left the diaspora community of Egyptians untouched. In New York, the Arab and Egyptian listservs are buzzing with a fantastic energy - talks and panels and films and benefit concerts all clamoring for attention in these very hopeful and very critical times.
One exceptional example takes place this weekend in New York City, sponsored by the Egyptian American Medical Community (EAMS). The proceeds from this gala dinner will go to support medical relief efforts in Egypt. In attendance will be Congressman Gregory Meeks, and Wael El Ebrashy, an Egyptian journalist and TV host of "The Truth" will MC the event. Of particular interest to Afropop is the roster of performers coming from Egypt to enliven this gala dinner. Singers Eman El Bahr Darwish and Amal Maher are scheduled to perform with an ensemble of New York musicians skilled in Arabic music performance.
|Eman El Bahr Darwish|
Umm Kulthum herself was not only a musical figure, but was seen by Egyptians as a cultural ambassador to the rest of the Arab world. She did not only sing love songs, but concerned herself with the contemporary politics of her time, and was often courted by the ruling party of the time, given her strong presence in the hearts and minds of the Egyptian public at large. At her most politically outspoken, Umm Kulthum throughout the 1960s and 70s, donated all of the proceeds from her concerts all over the Arab world to Egyptian government coffers during Gamal Abdel Nasser's war effort with Israel. Amal Maher is one of the youngest voices on the scene that has so confidently taken up this repertoire, continuing to bring it to diverse audiences all over the world. Here is a short clip of her performing the much longer song, Enta Omri, in Amsterdam:
|Abdel Rahman El Abnoudi|
A few stanzas of the poem was sampled in this song, which was one of those that went viral in the days of the revolution. The song is entitled, "Sout El Horreya"; "The Voice of Freedom", and to date has more than 1.4 million hits on youtube.
- Mariam Bazeed