The events of January 2011 in Tahrir Square, Egypt, and the subsequent toppling of the Mubarak regime lit a surprising spark within me; the warmth of pride. Pride that I did not expect to feel.
My grandfather, Ismail Ali Sayed, a youth in Cairo during the 1940's, disgruntled by foreign occupation and hoping to restore the pride (sharaf) to Egyptian identity, joined the Muslim Brotherhood. He embarked on a life of political activism that left a lasting mark on the trajectory of his life. Ultimatley his involvements lead to his exile from Egypt. the very same Egyptian identity that fueled his activism against British colonialism was taken away under the Nasser regime as he became a Lebanese citizen.
His exile resulted in my estrangement from Egypt. Instead I grew up Lebanese/American. And so, the pride felt at the events in Egypt of January 2011 caught me off guard because I felt, despite never really living through Egypt, strangely close to the struggle.
It was then I realized that I had experienced Egypt, in my own way, through my grandfather. It was his stories, memoirs, photographs, and his return (we accompanied him as a family) after fifty years of exile that kept that bond alive.
So in three days I arrive in Cairo where I hope to collect and bring to life those stories, photographs, and
memoirs to piece together the life of a political activist that started seven
decades ago and continues with the youth in Cairo today.