Snap shot from the past to draw an agenda for Kairouan

These are the guests attending a speech of Ben Ali at Carthage Palace in March 20th 2010 and Mai 1st 2010. Check the first raw.  – Photo Credit: Nawaat.org (captured when viewed on state TV: Tounes 7).

The hint from the photo up here is to help me express the idea of how Kairouan shouldn’t be the same stagnant city as always. I’m not being clear then Let’s Google Kairouan and see what we get…hmm, there you go, the first web and image results show you an historic old city with the Great Mosque, the Mosque of the Three Doors, the Basin of the Aghlabids, and other numerous archaeological remains still fairly intact witnessing the glorious civilizations of the first centuries that passed by this small city…Cool, interesting! Oh and did I mention that one of the top results also states that Kairouan is listed in the UNESCO’s world heritage convention since 1988! Wow impressive!

Excuse me, but there is something missing in the whole Kairouan puzzle. The city and its historic monuments are still there which is perfect but what about its people?

What you notice when wondering in the streets of Kairouan is the amount of despair in the faces of its people; the crowded coffee shops everywhere and the dominating business in the area: restaurants: Kaftaji, mlaoui, chapatti and pizzarias!

But is that what Kairouan is all about, walls, stones and food?

What I’m trying to bubble out here is the lack, NO, I mean the Absence of all sorts of a cultural and entertaining life…

Institutions may already exist to take care and help develop a cultural scene but I’m 110% sure they were swollen by the purple system long ago. Is that too bad? Keep reading:

There in the heart of the city lays the huge Cultural House and to quote a friend who told me that it’s the biggest one in Tunisia “speaking of stones and walls” and not “achievements”!

He used to be a member of painting club and he mentioned to me how the responsible there takes young people’s paintings and buries them somewhere in the cold rooms of the Culture House! Shouldn’t those art works be presented in a gallery instead?

On a sadly funny note a another friend in Tunis directed my attention to this documentary supposed to be presented in Kairouan’s Culture House-   well guess what, I went to check it out where a bunch of old people sitting at the door prevented me from walking in and denied that there is any documentary what so ever to be played! I haven’t noticed any posters by the way.

I also can remember the pain in the ass that a group of young people with the dream to form a Rock band had to go through during high school just to get a room in this Culture House to rehearse and keep their instruments.

Oh, Am I nagging too much about the negativity and sad stories of the Culture House then let me switch the subject and tell you not to forget about the Basin of the Aghlabids that got totally neglected and did you know that after the whole campaign done by young people from Kairouan and the impressive project ideas they came up with to bring some life back to that monument and benefit from the surrounding area; the elite suggested to fill the place with trees and plants!! Young people had suggested making fountains, clubs, malls and hotels near one of the miracles of Aghaliba and they suggested filling it with tress!  And then started lecturing us about sustainable project ideas_ please give me a break!

Bottom line youth in Kairouan had enough with the bureaucracy and locked roads; it’s time to turn light ‘On’ in the Culture House and let’s have debates, workshops, and film and theatre festivals.

I want to see more and more NGOs and voluntary groups, more campaigns and more events and they need to be easy to be implemented! No more looking for Mr. X to approve and sign!!

Some suggested making Kairouan the capital of Tunisia; well that’s a very ambitious demand these days but when looking at the history of the city then we can understand the legitimacy of such a demand. But let’s be practical and work on making Kairouan a cultural capital as a first step and then demand shifting the political powers to it! Is that too much to ask for?

Article appeared on aghlabeats and on leadershit blog.

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