A few days ago I realized that since my arrival in Alex I have only been to the cinema once and the occasion was a friend’s birthday. I used to live in very close vicinity of the best cinema in South London, which made it very easy to catch a film on a regular basis. Now I don’t even know what’s on or what films have been on general release in the last five months. Despite the internet and having access to satellite TV including channels like BBC World, Al Jazeera and Rusiya el-yawm (Russian news channel in Arabic) I very much feel I am in the periphery of the world. According to these international news channels nothing happens in this part of the globe. When it comes to the weather we only find out what the temperature is in Cairo ’cause no one lives in the rest of the country or in North Africa in general and the ‘few’ people who do live there..well, sod them. No one brings out a new book or album. The ‘latest’ fashion they sell here in H&M for more than you would pay at home is Europe’s last season’s collection. Funky art house films are not being released in this corner of the globe and even if they were I wouldn’t know about it. They show the blockbusters in a censured version (if ‘necessary’) and I don’t want to enjoy/ suffer censored art and entertainment on principle. The newspaper I occasionally buy for my media classes mainly informs us on what Mubarak (president of Egypt since an eternity) had for breakfast.
When you live in Europe the media can give you the idea that all the news and all the action happen in the capital (cities). Capital cities are exactly that for a reason but having lived in the provinces I can tell you it’s not too difficult to get a piece of the action wherever you live. Living in the Global South is a entirely different matter, though. The Middle East or North Africa as a region might be culturally and politically very interesting but if you’re residing outside the capital cities- or let say, outside Cairo and maybe Jerusalem- according to the international media your location is not worth a news story. There is always something going on anywhere in the world but what the big corporations consider a good story is what will reach our television screens. If you’re outside the range of vision of the world’s eye, it feels like you’re not really there. You don’t see you current location on television or read anything about it in the papers, therefore it doesn’t exist. Alex, Egypt and other countries in the Global South are mainly leftovers of an imperialistic experience. You can find them on a map,but they don’t exist, not really. Alex is not my home, it’s my current place of residence and I feel for the people who do call it their home. It must be hard work trying to live everyday life in a country with great income inequality , an inefficient infrastructure, a government who won’t allow a democratic system in the name of security and on top of that your struggles are not known to the world because mainstream media doesn’t consider them to be of any interest to their audiences. It doesn’t sell papers. It’s very likely you’re not bothered. You’re probably too preoccupied with surviving and making it to the next day. I knew we were living in an eurocentric world but there is a difference between knowing and experiencing. No one said life was fair.