icecairo at re:publica 2014 INTO THE WILD

 

I posted full blog here

My take on what Happened this year at re:publica

  1. pre:publicaintothewild_republica.9028d67985badecef326f3421ab561fb1135
  2. re:publica
  3. ice at re:publica
    4. post:publica
    5. The Crew

 

afrilabsgig_logo_rgbAfter the greatness of last year in Berlin, the Afrilabs and Global Innovation Gathering (GIG) decided to bring back so many amazing people in one place for the re:publica 2014 INTO THE WILD #rp14 once again.
icecairo joined at least 29 other tech hubs from the Afrilabs network, while more hubs joined us from Asia and South America for the Global Innovation Gathering.

 

My talk was about the maker scene in Egypt growing, about what the ice network has been doing with open source high tech digital fabraication machines designed for rapid prototyping and the funky cools in makerspaces like Fab Labs around the world.

A few years ago, Fablab Egypt emerged on the maker scene in Cairo.

Amiralx quotes for The Africa Report

More and more, the trend of entrepreneurship is picking up in Egypt and the region and the continent!  Usually the forces that control use mainstream trends to increase their share of the pie, and this is usually how these trends make it to the mainstream.  It is the devices under the control of those at the top that propel shitty music or a myriad of frivolous other “interests” into the minds of the masses.

It is the second time where I have been a part of a movement that addresses the masses, the underdog, the forgotten.  I think it is actually a part of a global movement that is a reaction to the inequalities highlighted in the revolutions and movements of 2011.

In this article, the lovely @Amiralx quotes me for The Africa Report.

“It’s the serendipity of like-minded people working together,” says Muhammad Radwan, co-founder of icecairo, an innovation hub and co-working space in the Egyptian capital. The ‘ice’ in icecairo stands for innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship. Radwan’s words paint a romantic description of co-working spaces, an emerging trend in Egypt and the whole of Africa. But in many ways, they also reflect the most resounding sentiment from the engaged young people using these spaces.

the africa report

Running around North Ethiopia & Addis

During Eid, Bassita and I booked a spontaneous trip to Addis just days before, I have a few comments.

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1. Don’t take a cab from airport.

My usual traveling habits kicked up upon arrival, and it was immediately evident that this poor nation had an informal system to maximize profit from the tourism sector. But coming from Cairo, I was no stranger to this. In Ethiopia, You must haggle!

The first price of 16USD for a 10 min drive was eventually taken to 6USD. On my second trip through the airport, we just hitchhiked, Ethiopians are indeed friendly.

2. The choice of accommodation in Addis is extreme.

On our first night we chose something out of the 2006 LP in the center at Ras Hotel for 38 USD. On our way back, we went all over Addis and the ubiquitous Guesthouses were all around 20 USD, not cheap in relative terms. But I figured quickly this was a result of the sex tourism industry very prevalent in Addis. I had heard it existed, but after comparing to Tangiers, Dubai,and Amsterdam, I was sure Addis fit in just the same.

So I looked at 16 hotels one day. The average was 65 USD a night, but ridiculous prices lile 130 were quoted too, for something that aged decades.

I settled into the newly built Caravan hotel for 50. Guesthouses were out as the fresh smell of semen and sex wasn’t really luring me in.

No proper hostels existed for backpackers, but I was advised to check out Cozy Hotel for a similar experience, this was 20 usd a night. In Bole, the Maadi of Addis.

3. Book domestic flights when you arrive.

Continue reading

Street Art in Downtown Cairo

Su Zee writes a powerful article explaining the recent street art that appeared on the walls of the Armenian Church last week in Downtown Cairo.

Note that this wall is similar to the famous Mohamed Mahmoud street in that it has been a gallery over the past 2 years of art reflecting socio political sentiment of revolutionaries in Egypt.

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On my FB, and as noted in the blog above, I was told the artists were El Zeft & Ammar Abou Bakr

Abdelrhman Zin Eldin commented on the posts, referring to the first two, he wrote:

“On Sunday, 10 October 2013, unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire on a wedding at the Coptic Orthodox church of the Virgin Mary in the Giza neighbourhood of Al-Warraq. Among the 12 fatalities were 8-year-old Mariam Ashraf and her cousin, the 12-year-old Mariam Nabil. Mariam Nabil was hit by about 13 rounds in the abdomen, back, side and legs.”

icecairo at Kiki’s Deep South camp in Marsa Alam سخان طاقة شمسية شعبي by @simonjhanna

So I make it back down to Deep South after the debacle of Dec. 2010.  I was officially kicked out of the region after what I did down there.  But make no mistake, I have no regrets, one of the best dives of my life.

But then I get genuinely invited by Kiki, the camp owner, because:

  1. We (icecairo) do this awesome project
  2. He feels Bashar made it even for everyone – see Syrian Party in this blog

So we tried to get some local marsa alam folk to join, maybe start a business instead of getting fucked with diesel shortages like we did on the way down.  Both bus drivers waited 6 or 7 hours in line to score enough “solaar) = diesel in Egypt.  We witnessed several physical fights and I predict soon, people will be murdered in these lines.  Rabena yostorha.

The unit was finished in 2.5 days with a team of 7 people for about 1200 EGP!  Installed, tested, and ready to rock before 3al Ganoob Festival!

Simon Hanna from Ahram Online came down to document it, so I made sure I would represent with a #FuckSCAF shirt, what!

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Solar Hackathon: Building a Solar Water Heater at icecairo

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Published on Friday, 12 April 2013 10:30

Written by Muhammad Radwan

What is a Hackathon?

Hackathons are when specialists and interested peoples congregate around a specific topic with the intent to break it down and collaborate.  A presentation or discussion begins and then participants begin suggesting ideas and work groups depending on the tasks at hand. A Hackathon, like a marathon, can be days long with members busting out all their skills to achieve the stated goals.

icecairo Solar Hackathon

icecairo initiated a solar hackathon at the hub that brought together community members from the private sector, students, civil society, and the passionate Egyptian who seeks to learn.

The icecairo team explained the purpose behind launching this initiative.  icecairo’s vision seeks to increase employment in the Green sector, in this instance, renewable energy.  We seek to do this with Egyptian youth or neglected remote areas of Egypt where the need for this technology increases daily.

The first event was aligned with the hackathon description above and the team outlined three products that are the goals of this hackathon: solar water heater, solar water still, and LED light solar setup.  The workflow decided by the team prioritized the products and planned for a linear path, with the solar water heater chosen as the first product to be designed and constructed.

The second event brought together experienced individuals from organizations like Solar Cities and Oasis Renewable Energy and debated the best choice for materials and technical design.  A trade-off between cost and quality concluded in the use of PVC piping instead of the high cost of copper despite the significant difference in the efficiency as a result of the thermal conductivity properties of each material.

The subsequent five sessions were the practical construction of the unit.

Cairo

By organizing with our partners GIZ and Oasis Renewable Energy, a training on the exact process of constructing a solar water heater began. Mr. Adel Hanna, 30 years experience in Solar Power with Academy of Scientific & Research Technology (ASRT), trained the 75+ participants that took part over the various different sessions.  All sessions were open and free to icecairo community members that were held over the course of a month.  The final stage of installation and testing will take in the very near future.

Marsa Alam

One remote area of Egypt that could make use of this transfer of skills and knowledge is Marsa Alam.  In this region, haphazard urban development for the tourism sector threatens the ecological haven that it is, one of the last remaining coastal areas in the country.  The local population, Ababda and Basharaya tribes, have lived nomadic bedouin lifestyles for centuries.  With the growing tourism sector, the government has began forceful land grabbing where it sells to major development firms, forcing the locals to work in the resorts as a last option of livelihood.  Their only other option was fishing which has seen significant declines in fisheries over the past few years.

icecairo intends to empower this marginalized community by transferring the technical and business skills surrounding around this product.  Even though hotels expect a certified product with a quality standard they can rely on, there will be an opportunity for the would-be entrepreneurs to begin developing the required skills.  This prototyping of products and business models will be facilitated by icecairo and its strategic partners like GIZ.

As a contribution to the 3al Ganoob Festival, icecairo vision of sustaining communities through green products fulfills our triple bottom line goals.  The event will take place at the same location and the communities of conscious will convene to discuss many other topics in a conference like environment.

 

Documentation

A crucial aspect to icecairo vision is that every product and project worked on shall be documented and provided virtually for everyone to see and use.  The open source philosophy we promote stems from a sense of community, where we build synergy and advance socially and technologically.

For this project, a team dedicated to this task has documented step by step the process along with photo-documentation.

In addition, there is data on material costs and location from which one can purchase.

This material will be made public online through our many social media platforms once it is comprehensive and complete.

Photo albums:

Session III (1st practical session):

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.417875438300601.1073741825.265676156853864&type=3

Session IV:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.418273258260819.1073741826.265676156853864&type=3

Session V:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.422643534490458.1073741831.265676156853864&type=3

Session VI:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.419588808129264.1073741829.265676156853864&type=3

Session VII:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.424654757622669.1073741834.265676156853864&type=3

 

Khairat The Giant – OBEY graffiti

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Picture taken in front of G’z Corner in Downtown Cairo, Egypt

I spotted this picture in Downtown, Cairo.  Sheer brilliance.  I am not sure how many people, revolutionary or not, street wise or not, understood the origin.

Obey Giant (1989 – 2008). Regarded by many as one of the most significant street art campaigns.

Arguably one of the most compelling works of philosophy and art written in the twentieth-first century, Philosophy of Obey is the only artistic — philosophical work that Obey has published during its campaign. Written in short, carefully numbered sentences of extremely revealing candor, it will capture the imagination of a generation of Street Artists and philosophers. For Obey, discourse is something we use to examine reality which is in itself both elusive and unobtainable. Obey famously summarized this book in the following words: “I aim to bring something new to every artwork.” The work is prefaced by Sarah Jaye Williams introduction to the first edition.

Books, websites, and even movements have started because of Shepard Fairey.

Check this website: http://www.obeygiant.com/

Obey GiantObey Giant Icons

Demanding Dignity: Young Voices From the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions

So I get an email from May Al Hassan back in Fall 2011 to see if I wanted to write a chapter in this book.  She said Ahmed Shehab el Din from The Stream he and were publishing it.  I figured why not, I was going to write a book myself about the Syrian Party, so here’s a chance to get the story out.

I had already started the blog just to get these details down.  And so I called my boy @dooolism who had been with me in Tahrir and had gone to Benaghazi in Feb 2011 to see if he would write too.

For a year and half, we waited to see who else was contributing in the book.  Doolz was tripping though, he was worried we would end up with some felool or pro-MB nutjob in the book with us.  But after publishing, we found out that they were a bunch of Arab Revolutionary Rockstars, and I have to say I am most impressed by @MARYAMALKHAWAJA from Bahrain.  She’s on point and a symbol of Arab revolutions that started in 2010/2011, respect.

Demanding Dignity: Young Voices from the Front Lines of the Arab Revolutions (I SPEAK FOR MYSELF): Maytha Alhassen, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin: 9781935952718: Amazon.com: Books

 

Then after sending in my piece for edits and finishing up, I end up in Austin Texas for the first time in five years.  I was attending SXSW, and all kinds of my people were there, the Texas based had come in from all over the state, and obviously the ATX people do, along with some from around the country, and people from Egypt too, including the planet360 pimp daddys, Tarek & Tarek.

While I was down there, I bumped into @ASE and only after quite some time he realized that I was one of the people that contributed to the book that he was publishing with May.  He apologized, and only then I remembered he was actually working on the book with May.

Then he tells me May is in town, I end up attending her panel discussion on HipHop And Islam.  It was entertaining and I learned about the 5%.  Respect to May for getting into it.  It was nice to see her later as we strolled around the infamous 6th Street talked about revolutions and Los Angeles. I digress, check the info below yo.

Click Here to Go to their Website: https://demandingdignity.wordpress.com/

Amazon Reviews:

“This is a powerful—and disturbing—book. Don’t miss it!”
– Cornel West

 

 

No MB and No Felool

Some quick rambling here…

The events of the past year have shown us that the Muslim Brotherhood do not intend to work with anyone else in post-revolutionary Egypt.  Since they sat with Omar Suleiman in the first 18 days of the revolution, their hunger for power superseded any real change as demands of the revolution were bargained with.  From July 2011 sit-in to the ambivalence of presidential nomination and percentage of parliament, to the cowardly betrayal in  mohamed mahmoud and the circus of parliament in Jan – May, they have failed to be a positive force for the country.

These past few months witnessed some turbulence and further betrayals, starting with a confrontation with the Mubarak era prosecutor general, I’ll call him “dick”.  And ending with a decision between a dictatorial decree or an MB constitution.

The point I want to make is the backlash of the whole country involved the same people who had not moved since the beginning of the revolution in fear of an Islamist government complete takeover.   Those people supported a lot of the anti revolution, they disgustingly attacked people fighting for freedom, and the martyrs during the past 21 months, out of fear.

Now they are in the streets because the MB as predicted by everyone is indeed trying to take over.  But after Jan25, there was no way we going to let this happen.  And now they join.  I welcome that.

But what I object to is their stance that the army/SCAF/Shafiq is the answer.  That was and still is the core of the counter revolution.  They are “felool”.

The word felool has been written about before.  check wael iskandar article on this.  I would like to say that the word does have a meaning.  The remnants of the old regime.  Let us be more specific: MoI, Judges, Businessmen, NDP, SCAF

Syria in Zurich

The River in Zurich

The River in Zurich

Recently my friend Rayelle Niemann, @midanfini,  invited me to speak at an event she was organizing in Zurich.  The objective of the event was to highlight the plight of the Syrian people struggling in a revolution against Bashar that little Bitch, to educate the people of Zurich, and to increase the public interest.syria-triptych1200.jpg

Naturally, I was supportive of her efforts, but I asked her if she thought it was appropriate to have an Egyptian speak at such an event.  She figured with my experience (read: The Syrian Party) and with some knowledge of refugees in Cairo and relative proximity to Syria then I was indeed suitable.  I was still a bit sceptical.

Well, I had never visited Switzerland, especially not expensive ass Zurich with the diamonds.  But it is my experience that if one should invite you to travel to a new country, then you GOTS to do it!  Because travelling is the most important school in life, lest you fall victim to the nonsense they feed you on TV (<- kill it).

Now one crucial factor that it was planned on November 25th.  This is right after the memorial of the revolutionary milestone of Mohamed Mahmoud St. But calculating the possibilities of the revolution returning in full charge in such that short period of time, my ‘perfect’ algorithms resulted in the following message: “It’s OK to travel, you will not miss too much in Tahrir.”  I was wrong.

I didn’t think Morsilini would come out and decree himself the dicktatorial powers that he did, essentially denying anyone the right to question his authority.  Never try to assume the infinite variables that could lead to the MB fucking up.  Shitstorms arose, and I was going nuts.  But I would finish what I had committed to in Zurich, and there was a million man march planned the day after I got back.  So I was cool.

 

Social Media

Jugo de Borto2an

Over at Corner College, I was to give a talk on social media.  (full presentation here) Corner college is kind of this funky open space with a focus on the art theme.  Now many of my friends have done this, and I am bored of this kind of talk.  So I decided to give my experience on how social media affected me before Arab revolutions, during them, and at the present time.  I spoke a little about Facebook, more on twitter, then Bambuser and Youtube.

Rayelle put up some shirts of Gaza and Palestine, I brought my collection of shirts from earlier this year, and a collection of stickers were posted on the wall and translated.  And with these illustrative pieces, I challenged the notion of the meaning “Social Media”.  To dissect the words and use the most basic meaning, I suggested to the crowd that it must not all by Cyber, that selling shirts in the streets was another traditional form of social media.  I don’t think people cared about the semantics, and honestly, the point was the sending a message with t-shirts.

Mapping strikes in Egypt

Another focus point in the presentation was the slide on Ushahidi, and how they have been put to use in Egypt’s activist scene, whether with Harassmap.org or the Military Map.  I discussed importance of the plans to complete one for the labour movement.  Also discussed features of Ushahidi with respect to other mapping platforms including; categorization, CSS changes, SMS/Email/Web entries, verification, etc.  I think this is a very important and useful tool for geo-taggin info using a decent visual interface, but also it is a crowdsourcing tool reaching remote areas at times with high volumes of information that no organization or government can ever hope to capture.

Stickers like 7akmoohom (حاكموهم) on the columns in the space

I also spoke of the hundreds of stickers that have been on the streets of Cairo since the revolution.  How we use them on our shirts, instead of printing shirts.  More cost effective to organizers and def some art in there.  Some of the few on the wall were Moqate3oon or Boycotters, referring to the people who chose to boycott the Presidential elections run by SCAF, the main source of the counter-revolution.  There was also 7akmooohom, or Try Them, an initiative focused on justice for the martyrs.

Cabaret Voltaire

The main day of the event, Sunday, hosted many speakers from Syria at Cabaret VoltaireOday Al Zoubi, a Phd candidate in England (check some of his articles in opendemocracy.net here), spoke of what the revolution in Syria meant to him and the symbols of a revolution, which in the case of the so-called Arab Spring were the youth.  He spoke of the children of Deraa that sparked the revolution in Syria, and Hamza Al Khatib, the young boy tortured to death at the hands of the insane regime.

I was to speak next, and I was originally going to speak of my ordeal in Syria, refugees, the Syrian revolutionary tent in Tahrir.  All in this presentation. But I had met Blend again.

In May 2011, I was in Tahrir for a million man march against the ruling military junta.  On the same day, there was a social media conference for activists from Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Morocco, and other Arab countries.  I met Blend Hamza there because Amira Al Husseini recognized me from TV.  Blend urged me to give details of my story in Syria so that the people understood unequivocally that I was forced to lie for regime’s plan to blame the uprising on “foreign agendas”.

Blend showing places on the map of Syria on the wall

So when I ran into him in Zurich, it was a great surprise.  He told me about his horrible ordeal as a field doctor for the many months that followed until the regime caught up to him.  Forced to hide, then forced to leave the country, he found himself near Zurich.

Well I spoke to Rayelle about the importance of having Syrians speak at an event like this, and everyone else agreed as well.  So I cut my presentation short so that Blend could show pictures of the atrocities he witnessed first hand.  He showed some gruesome pictures of dead friends, doctors like him, targeted for helping old women and young children.  It was heartbreaking to say the least.

Then, Bissane Al Charif “Bisa”, a film and theatre scenographer, began to explain the revolution from the eyes of an artist.  Originally Palestinian, she had been raised in Syria and now lives in Paris.  She spoke of the artistic strategy employed as part of the resistance.

A short, boring presentation by Reto Rufer of Amnesty International was in the middle there.  They were the ones kind enough to host the event, so you got make an appearance I guess. I think I fell asleep. But thanks to AI for hooking it up.

Then Ziad Malki spoke of his experience and his organization, Swiss Relief Association for Syrian People .  When we met that day, he said he remembered my story well.  They all watched me on TV, and he related that to his experience with Syrian mukhabarat.  Now living in Zurich, he helps provide aid to refugees.  His other Syrian colleague, Mus’ab, asked if I could take a photo with him.  He wanted to show his Syrian friend living in Dubai that I wasn’t a spy, because they still debate it until now.  He told me it was crucial for me to go and do more of these talks.

Later in the evening, we watched

Film, short introduction by Ziad Malki
Flood in the Baath Country, 2003, colour, 48min,
Arabic, with english subtitles,
by Omar Amiralay, Syrian documentary filmmaker, 1944 – 2005 Feb 2011 an approach to examine the influence of the Baath Party in Syria
courtesy http://www.proactionfilm.com

 

Gaza March
Meeting Point for Gaza March

Meeting Point for Gaza March

That Saturday, I was told that there was a march against Israeli indiscriminate murder of the Palestinians in Gaza.  I’m always bout it in so-called free countries to talk shit about the murderous genocidal atrocities of the state of israel.  Def a plus on the trip.

It was super interesting to see the people who participated.  Mainly non-Swiss, the crowd reached about 300 people.  More than half of them were Turkish from all ages, Arabs, and a few Swiss and other Europeans.  What was really interesting was the well selected protest route through the richest and most shishi roads in Zurich.  What was also more interesting was that all the different cultures and languages.  This was an obstacle for uniting all chants.  So frequently the crowd would chant “Allahu Akbar!”.  Some of the young girls in this march were dressed in black with a head green band and chanting this.   Without even having gone to a single march in my life before, I can tell you this is not the best way people.  These are the scenes they show them on TV to instill fear in them.  The purpose of the march should be gathering people along the way, not scaring them.  You should’ve seen the look of those Swiss as we called Netanyahu a terrorist and then Takbir! :)

look at girl on the left with the green band on her head

 

I met a lot of good people on this trip and have to say despite being gone the Friday of Morsy’s announcement, I was happy to take part in the Syria to Zurich event and to have travelled to another new country.  Revolution Continues until Victory!

ثورة ثورة حتى النصر ثورة في كل مكان مش بس في مصر

 

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