By: Malak Lamie
Despite what our grandparents tell us, there’s no denying that we Egyptians strongly hold on to some elements of our culture. We do indeed still enjoy the occasional selfie at the lantern section in Khan El Khalili and a bucketful of Koshary Hend.
Though, it would be naïve to underestimate how much Western soft power has managed to ingrain a copy-cat society within us. The truth is, for the longest time, we’ve been experiencing a perpetual identity crisis – especially within our small westernized bourgeois community.
After having been colonized for so long, perhaps we’ve internalized an inferiority complex. We’re constantly trying to prove ourselves as equally competent as the West, who has always regarded us as second-class. Therefore, to challenge this conception, we conform to their “superior” expectations.
Groundbreaking coping mechanism, isn’t it? But thank God we know how to curse in four different languages.
We’ve assumed the preconceived notion that everything foreign is innately better, while Made in Egypt (literally and figuratively) turned into an automatic label of inadequacy. And to be fair, who can blame us? We’ve neglected local industries for so long that quality has indeed become a rare (and quite pricey) incidence.
In our quest to be perceived as educated, modern and ‘open minded’, here are 14 ways we unconsciously strip ourselves of our culture today:
1. We send our kids to ridiculously expensive international schools where they can slowly get de-Egyptianized
If only I had a dollar for every time a teacher told me “Don’t do that, it’s too Egyptian“.
2. We’re obviously in dire need of a shopping mall every 10km
There’s nothing more fulfilling than throwing ourselves into the mania of consumerism. Retail therapy for the win.
3. We make sure to obnoxiously toss in a couple of French words in our conversations
You know exactement who I’m talking about.
4. We reproduce an obscene amount of gated compounds that resemble mini wannabe replicas of suburban America and Santorini
Why waste a plane ticket to Greece when you can just head to Sa7el?
5. Someone has an accent?! What an abhorrent display of their lack of education!
On the other hand, when non-Egyptians can’t even pronounce khalas, they get an A for adorable effort.
6. We constantly try to whitewash our bold African/Middle-Eastern features
Straighten your curls, pluck your brows, bleach your hair, brighten your skin and shrink your nose; who cares about wiping away centuries of ancestral heritage in the process!
7. Everywhere you go you’ll find at least a dozen Kylie Jenner look-alikes with recurrent bursts of existential crises
The ultimate dilemma: we’re dying to leave, but we have a hard time giving up all the dala3 that comes with staying.
8. We love our Black Fridays, Sweet 16’s and whitewashed history books
Isn’t cultural imperialism thrilling?
9. We can never let go of our Frappuccinos
Who needs 2ahwas when you can get carcinogenic coffee for 70LE at Starbucks? Capitalism 1 – Logic 0, yet again.
10. We’re probably the only people who describe something ratchet/distasteful using the word “my country”
11. We ban veiled women from restaurants and forbid them from swimming at the beach
We wouldn’t want to make the Arab guests feel uncomfortable, now do we?
12. We eat red velvet konafa
As if konafa wasn’t good enough already… its inventor is probably rolling in their grave.
13. We text in a hybrid language
Me7na aslan beno3od sa3a 3ashan nela2y 7eroof bel 3araby 3al keyboard.
14. We’re more concerned with our kids being able to recite Shakespeare than writing in grammatically correct Arabic
Raise your hand if you managed to barely pass Sanaweya 3ama because of scattered textbooks you found in the bathroom stalls.
Nowadays, ‘modern’ is synonymous with ‘western’. Under the pretext of development, we shoved ourselves in an endless imitation game at the expense of our own identity.
In order for us to truly prosper, we need to work on decolonizing our minds by proudly reclaiming our already abundant culture & heritage.
3o2det el Khawaga manifests itself in almost every aspect of our lives. We can still thrive as a nation without having to follow the European instruction manual. Spoiler alert: it was never designed for us in the first place.
By Malak El-Lamie