SOMETHING GREATER THAN DEMOCRACY: THE EGYPTIAN CLASS OF 2013A government of the people, for the people and by the people. I learnt that in primary school and its one of those (very few I must confess) perfectly intact fragments of my childhood memories that remain. I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by implying this is because it stirred an ideological notion in me or resonated with a hitherto unworded truth deep inside me. To be honest it just had a nice ring to it.

As recently as four years ago, very few in the outside world could have predicted the events that unfolded in parts of Arab Africa and the Middle East. I seriously doubt that more than a handful of people living there could have. Tunisia. Yemen. Libya. Egypt. Syria. The Arab Spring.

The Egyptian people fought for Egypt’s right to democracy. The unique course of their struggle and victory are a story for another day. There was violence, yes, but because of the actions of some parties the revolution was comparatively peaceful. The details of that story are public knowledge.

Some people see a lot of bad in what the Egyptian people managed to achieve in their most recent “revolution”. For a fledgling democracy it sets a dangerous precedent. I did not border my last statement with “Some say” or “They say” because I also believe it is true. I do not discredit the demerits of their actions or pretend that there may not be consequences. Overriding all of this however, is what I believe they have achieved.

The Egyptian people have demonstrated to the entire world, a glimpse of something that our apparently-almost-universally-loved maxim was referring to. The sentence defines the concept of democracy which intends to empower the people- the masses if you like. It seeks to place the direction of a state in the control of the population by their choosing from their number who holds the steering wheel. It is flawed in that it is what it is. A concept. A system. A static solution to a dynamic issue. Imperfect. The Egyptian people refused to earn freedom from a dictator only to be imprisoned by a system… a concept.

I am aware that we could go a lot of routes from here. I could point out that there will always be opposition and incumbent in any government. We could begin a discourse on the importance of protecting the rule of existing law in preventing a fall into anarchy. Reprimand the military for the not being more responsible in the aftermath of their bloodless coup and for their role the resulting sad loss of lives. Maybe even cite example upon example of numerous oppressive dictatorships that started out as innocent Messianic interventions by the military. However, I want to end this by emphasizing two things.

First of all, we seem not to realize that it is only in the pages of a book that a problem can have a static solution. Any resolution to a real-life problem has to be dynamic and holistic. Every action has a reaction. Here, the issue of cause and effect is ever-present. Mankind in the quest for peace and liberty has to always re-think, tweak and retool methods as there are always a previously unseen issue and a new angle of approach.

Secondly, for the sake of stimulating thought, let us recall the case in view. In the run-up to the elections that brought President Mohammed Morsi into office, he won support of an overwhelming majority of his countrymen, not just supporters of his party. On assuming office his policies reflected ideologies of his party. On the eve of his first anniversary the Egyptian people, who had not that long ago voted him into office, took to the streets again. The opposition had been steadily gathering momentum and, pointing to a petition that they had earlier passed around, demanded he leave office. A day after Morsi’s first anniversary the Egyptian people taught us a lesson. People are not made for systems, systems are made for people.

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This article was contributed by:
Gbenga Durowaiye
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