I don’t remember that day; I wasn’t born. My mother remembers she was 8-months-and-something pregnant of me and my father remembers he was literally panicked the delivery could happen at any moment. I am their first child, it is as unexperienced parents-to-be they lived that particular October 6th 1981.
They lived far from their homelands, in Switzerland, and it is with this strange obsession specific to the expats they were following as much as they could what was happening in Tunisia (my mother’s country) and in Egypt (my father’s). In 2011, it is difficult to imagine what means ‘following news’ at a time when there was no Internet, no twitter, no mobile phones and hardly any landlines in our families back home, no satellite TV; in fact no TV at all at my parents’ place. A bit of radio, newspapers (in some places in Switzerland you could get a few arabic newspapers with 3days delay), and mostly news from other expats were coming back from travel, that heard something from somebody, that has a personnal story to tell. I don’t know by which of these means they knew the Egyptian dictator Anouar Al-Sadat was shot during the traditional military parade of October 6th.
All I know for being told the story thousands of times by my parents, is that my father rushed to buy a TV immediately when he heard the news of Sadat’s death. Years later, everytime I hear the name of the dictator I imagine a younger version of my father trying to get that new TV (that now would look like an antique) working and a younger version of my mother, pregnant on the couch trying to give suggestions on how to do. I was born 10 days after Sadat’s death, on October 16th. My father never forgets to mention that October 81 brought many changes in his life: a daughter and a TV.
The world remembers Sadat with nostalgy for his peace efforts with Israel, but Egyptians don’t. This hate of Egyptians for the dictator is nothing because of Israel, but because Sadat is the synonyme for corruption, poverty, jails, arbitrary detentions, torture, expensive bread. Sadly ironic to think that a man that was so injust was awarded with a Peace Nobel Prize.
My father migrated to Switzerland because his engineering studies, in the Sadat years Egypt, were not enough to find a job and grant a decent a living for him, his two parents and his 6 sisters. Hadn’t he migrated, he wouldn’t have met my mother and I would have never “been”. Sadat, “my” dictator in a way.
October 6th 2011, 30 years later, Egypt is trialing another dictator, Hosni Mubarak. Age of blood is over for our country and we will be firmly standing to avoid it to ba back.