The moment I arrived in Cairo, I knew that the so-called “Gaza Freedom March” would not reach it’s destination. Hosni Mubarak’s military dictatorship, amongst other factors, saw to that.
Instead, I abandonded the “international delegations” and went to stay with an Egyptian activist friend – two visits in a week from state security were not exactly comforting, but we enjoyed lambasting Codepink’s suicidal decision to not work with local activists all the same. I was also reunited with vie, a Norwegian girl I had met in Bil’in, and who will stay in my heart forever. Not least for going-it-alone, escaping police house arrests in hotels and ending up on the run, camping in a field near the Rafah border.
Meanwhile, on New Year’s Eve, Codepink announced that their march would go ahead nonetheless. They got 15 seconds down a Cairo street before they were penned-in by police, with a few beatings thrown in for good measure. I pretended to be a local, which was greeted by a shouting commander threatening me with arrest, but I managed to make a speedy getaway on my wheelchair.
Whilst doing so, I bumped into Sara, my revolutionary Egyptian sister from London. After more arguing with the “undercover” state security (somewhat noticeable with their bulging stomachs and matching moustaches) during which one of them literally threw my wheelchair (thankfully, without me in it) onto the pavement, we went to get cups of tea and catch up after seven months apart.
The two of us spent the next few days planning how to start a revolution back home, whilst I waited for my brothers from Viva Palestina to arrive. I was going to Gaza, one way or another, even if it did meaning my delapidated wheelchair behind.
I waited, and waited, staying with an Egyptian family who Sara had hooked me up with and who treated me like their son, whilst the Viva Palestina convoy began hunger-strikes in Jordan and also faced the wrath of the hideous Hosni, who was too busy having cups of coffee with Netanyahu, the racist Israeli Prime Minister, whilst we demonstrated against them outside the Journalist’s Syndicate in Cairo.
Finally, on January 3rd, I got through to Kevin, a close friend of mine and organiser of the convoy. He told me that the convoy would be in al-Arish the following day, and that I should meet them there. I was one step closer to returning to Gaza, wheelchair-less, but as determined as ever.