At this point you may think to yourself “Is Mark still talking about Egypt more than 2 months since returning home?” The answer is yes. Proudly.
As I have now published all the interviews I have to share with you from the journey, I realized there was still audio that I had never put together and released to the public – the audio from Tahrir Square, as Chris and I, together with inspiring friends and people who just came right up to us, speak about what was going on around us. It was, and remains, a unique moment in my life and clearly from listening to people, an unforgettable moment in their lives as well. Part of a long struggle where there are beautiful and terrible days. This one, I believe, was a beautiful one. Take a listen, one last podcast from the Arab Artists in a Revolution series, one last chance to be transported back to a time and a place that captured the imagination of the entire world. Special thanks to the dear friends who every time we came to the square, stuck with us made us feel at home.
As part of the Arab Artists in a Revolution series, during our three weeks in Cairo, we had the pleasure of meeting up with the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. He may not be an artist but at 90 years of age, he is an extremely experienced observer of Egypt and the world, who is passionate about humanity and its problems. In this interview we meet in his living room over looking the Nile, the river that is “like a god” to him and who’s present and future crisis he see’s as 100% tied to that of Egypt.
Unlike previous interviews in this series, you may find (as we did) that this one does not go smoothly. Dr. Boutros doesn’t always like the kind of questions where you have to use your imagination, the “Academic questions” as he calls them, “that help fill pages of the newspaper”. Yet despite his frustration with the media, he lays out the state of Egypt on the global scale; what is happening, why it is happening, and the key questions that people inside and outside the country should be – but are not- asking.
The name Tyre was one I remembered best from the days of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 2006 when the city was bombed and that standard war-map would appear on news reports. While in country this past December, when I was offered a chance to go down there and speak with someone who lived in a refugee camp- I immediately said yes. But what I didn’t realize until I got there, was just how many people not only live in the camps, but were born and have lived their entire lives there. In a situation that has existed since 1948, there are stories that would be hard for some people to believe and too much for others to think about.
This podcast features a conversation we had with a young artist by the name of Ashraf. After taking us to see the city and some of its amazing history, he sat down with us to answer our questions about his life, the situation for residents of the camp, and what the prospects are for people who have been referred to and treated as non-citizen “guests” for over 60 years.
Over the course of my week in Beirut I had the good fortune of spending time with teacher and performance artist Raghda Mouawad. Through her I learned a great many things about the country and its people, including details about the education system and the harsh reality for artists during an economic crisis in a country that offers little support. We also get back into that now familiar topic, the contradictions of Beirut when it comes to identities, ethnicity and beyond.
The following podcast was recorded in a car late at night in Beirut on the eve of my departure last month. Special thanks to both Raghda and our silent passenger in the back seat, Krystel Khoury, for taking the time to explain and show me their city. Friends like these in far away places make doing what I do, not only possible, but a pleasure.