Humour in revolution

Posted on February 2, 2011 | View 595

Laughter the best medicine.

The day will come when men will be killed for laughing", says an angry young revolutionary to her affluent uncle in 1925 Britain in James Hilton's nostalgic novel Random Harvest. The uncle quips, "That will also be the day when men laugh at killing!"


That humour is there in the unlikeliest of situations is evident by the graffiti on a wall in Cairo even while Egypt is witnessing tumultuous street protests calling for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak who has been President for the last 30 years and whose regime has been associated with crony capitalism and repression.


The anger on the Arab street is palpable. Yet, amidst all this fury, the graffiti on a Cairo wall quips, Antique dictators 4 sale!"


The desire to get rid of Mubarak is motivated not by his age at 82, he is only a few years older than India's democratically-elected gerontocrats but as a reaction to corruption and repression at a time when inflation and unemployment are peaking.


The antique-dictator reference could also be to Tunisia's ousted 74-year-old president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali whose wife and family controlled 30% to 40% of the country's economy and owned assets in every sector from banks and insurance to transport, tourism and property while amassing an estimated $10 billion.


Not to be outdone, the Mubarak family reportedly amassed an estimated $41 billion, including a London townhouse worth 14 million and a six-floor Georgian mansion where the President's son Gamal reportedly deposited the 97 pieces of luggage with which he flew from Egypt!


All of which goes to show that there is some scam competition for our own netas. India's political leaders do quite nicely for themselves, thank you, without the kind of absolute power enjoyed by dictators.


Which should persuade Tunisian and Egyptian presidents to join the protesters and shout, long live democracy!

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