The new decades by Amal Tobich – Tunisia

I was around 14 years old, living just like any teenager. A Tunisian girl from the countryside in the North of Tunisia who barely cared about politics, debates or things like that. I was following  all that was happening around me without really getting into details. Yet, I still remember that day as if it happened today. The day during which my people’s movement sprung up a new colorful Tunisia.

Everything stopped  for me with a quick flash from a breaking news at 8 pm. Me and my small family were, as usual, happily gathered around the table, having dinner, chatting, and talking about our day. Abruptly, a deep silence governed the room, my dad took the remote control and to anxiously rise the volume. We could hear everyone breathing. We were attentively listening to the journalist’s report. The report said that a young man from Sidi Bouzid burned himself to death. The reasons behind that accident were mysterious and fuzzy and the government and the population didn’t seem to agree on the facts.  Everyone stopped eating, and their faces became pale and concerned. Everything was changing forever for Tunisians.

Days later, I personally did not really give it any attention; to be more precise, I pretended that it would pass. As time went by, things did not go as I expected!

The south of Tunisian started to stir crazily; protests, prisoners, manifestations, hunger strikes, and so on. People wanted the president to leave. All those demands were generated by several factors; from poverty and social inequality, a weak educational system and unemployment. On top of that lied the deprivation of the most basic rights. Many reasons were exposed with only one ultimate demand, “Dégage,” or “leave”. The situation was not under control. In fact, it was unstoppable, which pushed the government to make several public speeches to attempt to calm the situation, giving promises and blaming some outside agendas for all the troubles the country was experiencing. Things accelerated as unions, workers, and civic organizations broke their silence, and started to rebel furiously. Many Facebook and Twitter pages were created denouncing the situation; women’s testimonies, youths’ anger, and other injustices were visible at that moment. The Military was on the Tunisian people’s side. Facebook was covered by red and white showing their support with the peaceful movements towards freedom. “Tunisia First.” No more silence. We would change immediately this traumatic situation. It was enough of corruption. Protests reached the capital and school was suspended.  Tunisia was defying the government.

Nothing calmed them down, Tunisians wouldn’t stop this time.

I was following carefully what was happening, trying to match all events together. Things were becoming unstable, a lot of cities experienced disorder. But, after a period of disorder and disequilibrium, of fear and anger, Tunisians decided that this was going to be the day. On 14/01, thousands of different citizens found themselves gathered on the  Bourguiba avenue. More than 100,000 protesters, hand in hand, were asking for the president to leave. They were powerful, inspiring, and beautifully spreading real and strong messages to anyone who tried to stop them, “We are united.” On that day, after watching the news ,I became sure that regardless of the hard times ahead, we would keep on believing in a better future as the revolution was offering us the opportunity to discover our own values, and for me, that was the light that proved that I’ve been caring since the beginning.

 

This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.

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