Today, the world watches as Egypt holds its first elections since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak this spring. News reports have once again flared with stories of protests and gatherings in the famous Tahrir Square.
So it only seems appropriate then that Egyptian protest singer Ramy Essam was awarded the Freemuse Award last week.
Several months back, the Songlines team watched with bated breath as the movement famously referred to as the ‘Arab Spring’ unfolded and musicians were caught up in uncertainty. We were sadden to learn about musicians who, like Essam, were arrested – or worse – during the revolution. But to see these same artists win recognition for their political activism offers hope that there is a change coming and that these courageous musicians will not be left forgotten.
Essam was presented with the award last Monday (November 21) at a ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden. The award award is sponsored by the Björn Afzelius International Culture Foundation (BAIK) and honours musicians with a political voice. Essam had also just received the Freedom to Create Prize the day before in South Africa.
While onstage in Stockholm, Essam commented, “My dream is to spread the voice of Egypt all over the world. Thank you for helping me in that.” He then went on to say “My presence here [in Sweden] doesn’t mean that I have forgotten what is happening in Egypt. We have understood that the Egyptian revolution is not finished yet. The 18 days [at Tahrir Square in February 2011] were just the beginning. We will stay protesting in the streets until freedom, democracy and social equality has been approved. I am looking forward to getting back there, so I can be with them.”
This article originally appeared in SONGLINES.