“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”,
(Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)
says Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as he urges his comrades to seize the moment to overthrow the ruler they see as a tyrant. The changing winds that started in Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution and had blown into Egypt. Ordinary citizens were revolting against authoritarian governments and the associated political corruption as they suffered soaring unemployment and a rising cost of living. Smaller protests have also spread to Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. Will they succeed? The world will have to wait and see.
What happened in Egypt had unsettled past notions about what it meant to be an Arab and a Muslim. For the first time, Tunisians and Egyptians were destroying the alleged link between tyranny, corruption, terrorism and human rights violations with Islam. The Muslim world should welcome this change, having suffered from stereotypes for decades
Militant Islam's greatest ally had always been the West's hypocrisy. The Western world had denied its own values in the Middle East, giving autocracy precedence over democracy. But people can be strongly influenced by the very things they are fighting against. Was autocracy in the Arab states meant to be a barrier against Islamism?
Democracy was now definitely seen to be an ally of Islamism. Hamas was triumphant in the 2006 Gaza elections. The Muslim Brotherhood had pledged to support a secular Egypt, but will that promise hold if they comes to power? We must remember that the Egyptians were not fighting for Sharia law or for an Islamic state.
This was a revolt against rulers who had implemented policies that had seen their citizens dehumanized, victimized and marginalized. It could also be seen as a revolt against the Western powers that created these modern Arab states and maintained them as security states after the 1970s.
What had happened now in Tunisia and Egypt will surely ripple throughout the Arab world, as ordinary citizens realize that they must seize and protect their freedom and dignity. The world are now witnessing a historic moment that have long been denied to these ordinary people that is the right to define themselves and their governments, to shape their governance systems, and to engage with each other and the world as free human beings, with rights that will not be denied aka DEMOCRACY.
In the university too, the winds of change were about to take place. It was the SU elections fever. Following December’s vote on the rise in tuition fees, this year elections were going to be more important than ever as you can read from these posters (above). Every spare wall around the library was plastered with posters. I was just waiting for someone to taped one on my window!!! To me, the most impressive voting scenario was when this group of Jane supporters sang an improvised classical version of Hallelujah outside the library. They did attract a lot of attention especially when they sang it on the walkway joining the library and the chemistry department. It was hilarious and a lot of people joined in the fun. Moi was too busy taking photographs.
I was supposed to conduct a library tour for the students from the Ritsumeikan University, a private university from Kyoto, Japan. There were about 30 of them who were here on an Intercultural Exchange Program. Unfortunately, I still had my coughing fits and I really don’t want to spread my joy to anyone. One of my colleagues from the International Student Group took over on a very short notice. Thank you. But I did came up to the Seminar room and tried to sit quietly at the back, which I failed miseably. To the young Japanese students, I wished them youkoso*.
It was also time for the much anticipated/dreaded Annual Review. It was a chore to do because you need to think what you had planned last year, whether you’d achieved it, reasons why you have not achieved, plans for the future etc, etc. You really need a clear head with no disturbances whatsoever. I took a whole day to do it and frankly, I was quite surprised to see the long list of things that I’d achieved in 2010. It was there to see in black and white. I guess the review was not a futile exercise after all.
This week was a reflective week for my 23 Things project. Hmm…actually I haven’t had the time to reflect. Busy catching up as usual with Twitter and Facebook. We have accounts with both because as librarians we need to keep abreast with what was out there. But I am not a fan at all especially Facebook. I don’t tweet but I can see its usefulness especially when some very important news was tweeted as soon as someone received it which otherwise I would not have known so soon.
I also watched the televised international friendly between England and Denmark from Copenhagen. Chelsea midfielder. Lampard, captained for the first time and earned his 83 caps. Quite a boring game and the Three Lions had to come from behind to beat Denmark 2-1 in the football exhibition. They still have a long way to go.
The casa was now enveloped with intoxicating perfume from these beautiful flowering indoor hyacinths (above). Although I planted them all at the same time, the blue bloomed earlier, and then the white. But the pink seemed to be a bit stunted. They bring joy and colour indoor compared to the bleak landscape outside. Although this Hellebores had flowered beautifully outside the window sill and lots of tiny buds were clinging on the Forsythia in the garden. I couldn’t wait. The yellow flowers of the winter jasmine were also blooming but the plant was in tatters due to the strong winds. I’ve also spotted the Hippeastrum, commonly called Amaryllis, forming a bud. It was suppose to be flowering during Xmas, but hey, who’s complaining.
The beautiful vocal goldfinches were back and feeding on the flowering alders outside our casa. I could hear their delightful liquid twittering song and call as I got ready for work. It was always a joy to see them with their striking red faces and the bright yellow flashes on their wings waving you goodbye as you get into the car. They always made me smile.
"The February sunshine steeps your boughs and tints the buds and swells the leaves within."
~ William C. Bryant~
*welcome in Japanese