By Nayera Yasser
Young people plan their whole month ahead in order to reach that day when they can finally spend it singing and dancing to songs that truly represent their life and unfold their deepest stories.
To attend a concert by “Massar Egbari” or “Cairokee” is currently a milestone amongst Egypt’s youth, because of what these bands stand for.
Needless to say, the two bands, which have been around for almost a decade, are two of the very few local talents that could be considered as genuine artistic advocates of the youth.
The two bands were scheduled to perform as part of a mega cultural festival called Bab El-Shams, (The Door to the Sun), in Antoniadis Garden in Alexandria. The festival was supposed to include an exhibition of several minor projects by the governorate’s youth, an artistic workshop, an initiative driven by unpaid volunteers to clean the historic garden, and finally a concert by the two bands.
Much to everyone’s surprise this sold-out event, which encourages volunteerism and supports a national treasure, was cancelled just a few days before its planned date.
Unlike the usual process of paper work, taxes and insurance, the garden’s director asked for extra permissions as he refused to host the festival until the organisers acquire “unneeded” written permissions from both the military and the security directorate.
The festival’s organisers, Agora which is a well-known cultural organisation that has hosted similar festivals before, did not hesitate to contact the previous officials. Nonetheless, Agora was surprised by the replies.
While the military was keen on offering all the needed security and services, the security directorate also offered helpful services, yet they were too hesitant to give a final answer. As an alternative decision, they referred the case to Cairo’s National Security.
Despite the fact that the two bands are registered at the syndicate and for long held all the needed paperwork and permissions to perform anywhere locally and internationally, National Security kept delaying the matter refusing to give any final answers.
“During the last meeting with one of the officials there, he sarcastically described Massar Egbari as a youth band that incites the adolescents and only sings about the negativities in the country,” said Tamer Attallah who is the technical director of Agora and Massar Egbari’s drummer.
According to Attallah, who used to be a police officer, the comment was both illogical and unsuitable as the institution does not have the authority to evaluate the country’s musical talents. “The band’s genre and appropriate choice of lyrics should be celebrated rather than oppressed,” said Attallah.
Attallah, on behalf of Agora directly, contacted all the participating individuals and bands and called the festival off. “I could not delay the festival endlessly especially that a lot of people have already paid for the tickets, it is my responsibility to return the money to the expected audience,” said Attallah.
National Security still has not issued any official papers related to the matter. Neither an official permission nor refusal was sent to Agora.
After the unexpected incident, the governor contacted the garden’s director in an attempt to keep the festival from cancellation. However, the director insisted on a written permission from the National Security.
Regarding their future plans, the two bands are expected to perform separately during the coming month. Nonetheless, according to Attallah, Agora does not plan on organising any future festivals in collaboration with the government.