I am woken by a frantic voice blaring from a coarse loudspeaker, demanding, pleading, insisting. The voice rises to a hysterical shriek, then breaks into slow mournful song backed by a wailing choir. The hymns rise and fall then the ranting begins again. I can hear others more distant.
The Egyptian “youth revolution” has been compared to innumerable historical instances ranging from France’s 1789, to Russia’s 1991, Berlin’s 1989, via Iran’s 1979 and the more recent Eastern European coloured pushes. Some more radical analysts went so far as claiming that Egypt was its own historically unique moment. Ironically enough, the political transitions closest to Egypt’s have been the largely overlooked African revolutions of 89-91. And as former Afro-optimists of all colours now attest, this moment of ‘African Renaissance’, has proved incapable of bearing much fruit, despite initial excitement and democratic enthusiasm. Can we avoid a similarly endless Arab spring?