Sunday, 12 December 2010


7ekayat min el-Mokattam: empowering Egypt's less-heard youth

  • Sunday, 12 December 2010
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  • In this video, Mahmoud Saber sheds some light on "El-Mokattam Blog Tales", a civil society project to empower young men and women from the temporary-turned-permanent "Earthquake Victims' Resettlement Project" (Masaken El-Zelzal) on the El-Mokattam Hills east of Cairo through art. The project aims at capacity-building and explores and trains youth from El-Zelzal the use of digital photography and the skills of internet-writing providing the most ambitious, yet least socially-mobile the means to express themselves and have their voices heard globally.

    In this video, Nesma Geweily of the Namaa Initiative explains more about El-Mokatam Blog Tales [video in Arabic, with English subtitles].

    The project is part an initiative by Namaa Initiative in partnership with the NGO Alwan & Awtar. It is also supported by the Rising Voices initiative of Global Voices.

    More details on the project can be found on the El-Mokattam Blog Tales page on the Rising Voices/Global Voices website. Here is another video [in English] featuring Nesa Geweily introducing the project earlier this summer when the project was formally launched.

    El-Zelzal is a particularly marginalised settlement which developed in the early 1990s as thousands of Cairenes fled their homes in the wake of the 1992 earthquake and the collapse of a number of budget-accommodation apartment buildings built using shoddy building materials and and insufficient use of steel reinforcement bars. The neighbourhood developed on Al-Hadaba Al-Wosta (The Middle Plateau) of the Mokattam Hills just above the earlier state-planned-turned-informal settlement of Mansheyyet Nasser. Together, they are referred to as El-Douweika.

    The inhabitants suffered yet another natural disaster in 2006 when a landslide left their homes destroyed, or under threat from an avalanche of rocks from Mokattam's upper plateaus where tope-end residential and luxury developments are taking place. Large parts of the neighbourhood were forcefully-evacuated in a brutal show of force and its social fabric once again shaken.

    Cairo's landscape is scoured with 'unfinished' or unpainted apartment buildings which are intentionally left on concrete and red brick form to avoid government taxation levied on 'finished' and 'luxury' residential properties. The aesthetics of these buildings is characteristic of many urban slums, informal settlements and peripheral neighbourhoods inhabited by the less affluent and the city's aspiring newcomers. This photo is from Masaken El-Zelzal, El-Douweika.

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