It is day thirteen of the Egyptian ‘revolution’ and public life in Egypt is getting back to semi-normal. Traffic has increased on the Kasr Al Nil Bridge leading to Tahrir (Liberation) square in downtown Cairo. A third queue has formed in the middle of the bridge for the anti-Mubarak faction walking to the square.
After thirty minutes, one person at a time, they reach the military checkpoints to enter the enormous anti-Mubarak camp. Organisers stand on both sides of the street, welcoming the supporters chanting “Go out Mubarak” and “Welcome VIPs”. All of a sudden the entire population of Egypt has become VIPs!
The first thought that comes to mind is that this is a cultural festival. Large groups of people are spread all over the square, some playing music and chanting, while others are dancing. Some are distributing food like koshary (an Egyptian dish) and semeet (Egyptian bread). There are even those who are making tea.
Walking further down from the entrance, a pleasant, middle-aged man stands with his popcorn machine. People from all over Cairo, from different backgrounds, age groups, social levels, and educational backgrounds are united for the very same cause - ending the current political regime.
The stage is set on the right side of the square, in front of the old American University in Cairo (AUC) campus on one side and the Mogamma El Tahrir (governmental offices complex). Right after the Asr (Islamic afternoon prayers), people are gathering around the stage waving their Egyptian flags and chanting, “We want the end of this tyrannical regime”.
Samia Jaheen, a member of the Eskenderella band, held her microphone and started leading the anti-Mubarak chants, followed by the rest of her band. Everyone took their places on the stage and started their patriotic concert.
Hazem Shahin, the founder and musical composer of Eskenderella, started off with “Oum Ya Masry” (Wake up Egyptians) by Sayed Darwish, a patriotic song that brought goosebumps to the audience as they sang along, feeling proud to be Egyptians and eager to continue with their protests.
“Oum Ya Masry” was followed by “Rageein", (We are back) by poet Amin Haddad. Again, Jaheen was able to engage most of the Tahrir crowd who followed her words.
Shahin started playing his oud (a pear-shaped stringed instrument) and the audience cheered and whistled the first notes of Sheikh Imam’s “Ya Masr Komy Shedy Elheel” (Rise again Egypt). The Eskenderella band then dedicated Fouad Hadad’s poem “Ya Akhdar Ya Teir” (You Green Bird) to all the Egyptian martyrs who have paid with their lives to free Egypt.
The band also performed a number of other songs including “Yetgamaa El Oshaq” (All lovers gathered) by Ahmed Fouad Negm and Sheikh Imam and “Bahibek Ya Masr” (I love you Egypt), and a patriotic poem by Ahmed Haddad.
Another special moment at Eskenderella’s concert was the recital of a poem written by Mina Nagi, a young man injured during the brutal attacks by the pro-Mubarak protestors last Wednesday. Nagi was shot at thirty times with rubber bullets, and during his recovery he wrote a prayer/poem dedicated to Egypt.
Though the stage and sound equipment did not do the band justice, the audience enjoyed their performance. On Sunday 6 February 2011 in Tahrir Square, this concert helped give the people gathered there dignity and pride, and reinforced their commitment not to rest until all of their demands are met.