Corruption is black, brown, grey, devoid of color. And in Egypt, it can be seen in streets piled high with trash and polluted canals, in maddening traffic resulting from outdated infrastructure, and chronic power outages. Corruption is everywhere, yet this silent killer of hopes and dreams is hard to pin down.
Not anymore. A band of graffiti artists and other concerned citizens led by Amr Nazeer are splashing bright, vivid colors on bridges and water pipes, walls and other public spaces throughout Cairo as part of a new campaign called #ColoringThruCorruption. By painting another dull, concrete bridge, they draw attention to how dilapidated the damn thing was before.
90 million Egyptians, some of them paying tax, and lately – what does the country have to show for it?
Previously blamed on the Mubarak regime, the absence of genuine change shows a systemic problem that has spilled into the post-revolution era.
So Nazeer launched #ColoringThruCorruption.
Posting in Arabic, Nazeer outlines the goal of his latest campaign on his Facebook page.
“We’re not painting to make life pretty,” he wrote. “On the contrary, this is our way of drawing your attention to the reality of the situation: the government is stealing your money, the taxes you pay every year to renew your car license, pay your traffic tickets, pay for the roads, bridges and highways to be maintained, pay for your water/gas/electricity bills and so on,” Suzeeinthecity translates.
He adds that although only 10 people contributed to the first action, he hopes that next time 20, 40, 60 or 100 people will help invigorate the next slum or crumbling wall.
He makes getting involved easy with a google pledge form that others can sign, though he emphasizes that only Cairenes should bother.
And whilst it’s attractive to blame these troubles on a wave of radical Islam that is hovering over North Africa, a trend that has Tunisian women bearing their breasts with messages of dissent, Egypt’s corruption goes deeper than that.
“The biggest proof of corruption is when one man lives in a palace and across the road, another man lives in a slum,” Nazeer concludes.
Lead image by Amjad Aggag and the second by Mohamed Abd El Hamid, both taken from Nazeer’s Facebook page.