I lived in Egypt from January 2012 until July 2013. When I first landed, I came to a country in the throes of revolutionary aftermath. Autocratic dictator Hosni Mubarak had been toppled and in his place ruled Field Marshall Tantawi from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Presidential elections were quickly approaching and the Muslim Brotherhood’s spare wheel, Mohamad Morsi, was a front-runner. After a nail biting election, the Brotherhood’s man was democratically elected as Egypt’s first president over the old regime’s Ahmed Shafiq. Jubilation filled the streets as millions of excited first time voters celebrated the success of their revolution. But all was not well. Many doubted the president’s commitment to serving all of Egypt, and not just the Muslim Brotherhood’s strict Islamist agenda. As the months progressed, his autocratic nature began to show. A constitution was jammed through. Special presidential powers were taken. And people took to the streets. Between the period of November 2012 up until now (August 2013) protests have been constantly held in every corner of the country. Spearheaded by the Tamarod campaign the popularly elected Morsi was brought down by the same people who put him in power, on the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Now, the country is once again in the hands of the ever-powerful military with the promise of new elections on the horizon.
In my time in Cairo, I worked at an international school teaching Social Studies. I organized a photography club, coached a girl’s basketball team and made friends with hundreds of wonderful young Egyptians. I was in the spotlight as their window into a different world with different values. I learned from them constantly and I like to believe they learned from me as well. When I was not working, I was hanging out in hookah bars, exploring the sites and visiting anywhere I could. I met wonderful people, went to protests and was constantly being challenged to understand. Throughout this period of my life, my camera was never far away. I was in photographic heaven and finding as many places to shoot as I could. I travelled around the country from Cairo to Dahab and Luxor to Fayoum. I photographed protesters and street battles as well as slums and shops. I saw photos everywhere.
This book is a tribute to the things I saw, the people I met and the incredible period in history when I called Egypt home. The country continues to transform and now that I have left, I watch with concern and optimism. But part of me will always remain, the part that is still driving down a sun baked desert road listening to the sounds of Misr.