Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Love Nationalism

The African Cup of Nations has been underway in Angola, and last night, Egypt played Cameroon in the quarterfinals. Lillie and I went to Mohandiseen, a district in Cairo, to watch the game at a cafe. Watching soccer surrounded by Egyptians is weirdly religious. Not only was the commentator invoking God's grace every time the Egyptians had the ball, everyone around us was muttering/screaming, "Ya rab!" ("O Lord!") four times a minute throughout the entire game.

The cafe we were at was the place to be. There were several camera crews filming the chaos and the reactions of the crowd. We got interviewed. Despite Lillie's refusal to speak into the microphone ("I don't speak Arabic!"), they shoved the microphone in our faces. She predicted the score of the game and I said, "Masr ha-tiksab, in shah Allah, han shouf." (Egypt will win, God-willing, we'll see.) How reassuring.

They tried interviewing a Saudi man behind us but he refused and spoke badly of Egypt, while the host pleaded with him saying, "C'mon! We're all Arabs after all." He had none of it.

When Egypt won, I saw him holding an Egyptian flag. Oh, how quickly he came around to Pan-Arabism.

Egypt ended up defeating Cameroon 3-1, scoring two goals in overtime. The cafe erupted and once the match was over, people went crazy in the streets. As soon as we got out, we saw three trucks full of riot police ready for the madness. Honking, screaming, flag-waving ensued for the next few hours.

It was a lot of fun being surrounded by chaos and happiness. People were genuinely thrilled for and proud of Egypt--a feat that only takes place from soccer victories and moving away to another country and romanticizing the good old days. It really is a great feeling to be proud of your country. People rarely get excited about America in the same way. No one riots in the streets unless something bad happens. Bo-ring.

The drumming and chants made for a festive atmosphere. Old men drop 50 years when Egypt scores. Their dance moves, however, remain from the 40s.

How to: Can of aerosol and a lighter.

Egypt plays Algeria in the semi-finals on Thursday. Egyptians are ready for war. Here's a good summary of what happened before. Algeria defeated Egypt two months ago to make into the World Cup and it is time for revenge. In shah Allah, han shouf.

No comments:

Post a Comment