No More Revolutions

Mohamed Hamdy Mustafa

The artist Ayman Ramadan listens to Mohamed Hamdy Mustafa, a seller of spare car parts.

Ayman Ramadan: What do you think of the revolution?

Mohamed Hamdy Mustafa: I was happy at first about the protesters and then I really regretted it.

Before the country used to be safe. But no longer. The country is a mess. There are so many problems.

People now are killing each other. There is theft of houses and cars. I have a friend, Mido, he had LE30,000 stolen from him during the revolution. From his apartment. He spent years sweating to save this money, and then boom, overnight, gone.

Another friend, his car, a Mitsubishi Lancer, was stolen.

Tell me where freedom is in a situation like this. This isn’t the freedom people have been talking about.

More than thirty-one thousand cars have been stolen. The thieves came out, the police are gone, there are fights now with guns — no longer fists. The whole country now has weapons. People die every day or two or three.

All the cars of the country have been stolen.

Women are being kidnapped, too.

I’ve seen gunfire with my own eyes. I’ve seen shops being looted with my own eyes.

So the revolution has done nothing for me. Where is the revolution?

One day I have work, one day I don’t. There’s no freedom. Where is freedom and my rights in all this?

Mubarak was better for one thing: we had peace and safety. Now no longer. That’s gone. The change is for the worst. We’re waiting for the good to come. But when? When I die? When is the change coming?

And what are we going to do? There is no one who can be a president. What are we going to do? I don’t mind a dictator for a hundred years, as long as I have safety back. As long as we have the stability and security we had before…

People at first were happy for the revolution, that the thieves like Ahmed Ezz would be jailed — the son of a bitch. But it hasn’t worked out like that. There are other thieves and killers and bad, bad things now.

I want my rights. The revolution is meant to help the poor people. It’s not happening. I still don’t have work. I may have to steal, like the thieves and thugs.

I don’t want that. I want rights. I want to be able to pay for my wife and child, for their medication. That’s freedom — to be able to buy medication, to have healthcare.

And you know, there are people much poorer than me. They have to steal. What are they going to do, leave their kids to starve?

The problem is the education system. How can you have seventy or eighty kids in a class and expect them to learn? My daughter’s son has to take private lessons for LE25 a lesson to learn and he is just in first grade. How can he learn if the teacher is thirty meters away from the student because there are so many people in class?

And kids need LE5 a day to eat and drink. Plus lessons. Plus plus plus.

I’ve been working since I was eight. I never went to school. I am now, I think, thirty-two… or thirty-five. I have no idea. I haven’t saved any money. How? An apartment is LE20,000, and then you have to do it up and buy furniture. That’s LE50,000. You have to do it in installments. I am about to have another child and I still have payments due.

I want my kids to have an education like in Europe. Or maybe America. Kids have rights. Even if their parents have money, the government is responsible for them. Kids get their rights.

Kids here are weak because food is bad and there are no vitamins.

The revolution should have changed this. Or it should change it, at least for the next generation. For our kids. I want my kids to be the happiest kids in the world.

I don’t see the revolution brought anything new. I want people to love one another, and now, even a brother won’t help his brother. If you have a pound, you would keep it to yourself.

Everything is still done by bribes, everyone is still stealing. You won’t change thirty years of a way of being overnight.

When you make LE400 a month you have to steal. You have no choice. Either you kill yourself working or you steal.

I want safety and a good job and freedom. I want the next generation to have rights, to have a good education, to have a future.

The revolution harmed me. I went for two months without work.

The revolution destroyed me.

I don’t want to eat kebabs everyday. I just want to live okay.

I don’t dream of being in a palace. I just want to live. One word: live. Find a good hospital, a good school, a safe path on the way home at night.

You have a good head, you’re successful. Teach me. Share your knowledge.

The revolution is now all about talk. Talk talk talk. Everyone is busy saying things on the internet. What is all this talk? Show us action.

I am illiterate, I don’t know about the internet. I want action. I want results.

During the revolution people would make protests in our area to create chaos so that they can go and steal the houses with gold. Catastrophe.

The army is trying. It wants to hand the country to a clean government, but there isn’t one. The poor army, it knows this.

And ElBaradei. I’m not convinced by him. He didn’t live here. He didn’t see what our suffering is. He hasn’t felt it.

He lives in palaces, in Europe. He hasn’t seen a poor person. I want someone to feel Mohamed is suffering. He doesn’t feel us. He won’t give me a job.

You know, it’s a mess. Now everyone wants to do a political party, but there is no time for this. It’s all talk. We need to get on with things, find work, build the country. And this business of Tahrir, every week they want to do a revolution, a revolution. It’s over. The revolution was the 25th. No more revolutions. Time to move on.