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Yaser El Manawhly - The Monetary Fund

[Screenshot from Yaser El Manwhly's [Screenshot from Yaser El Manwhly's "The Monetary Fund." Screenshot from Youtube.]

With witty political commentary and folk-ish oud melodies, Egyptian musician Yasser El Manawahly channels the spirit of Sheikh Imam into the contemporary political and social issues of Egypt. In this song, Yasser takes on the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Talk of an IMF loan has been widespread among Egyptian policymakers since the January 25 uprising unseated Hosni Mubarak. Even though this song was released in October 2012, it is particularly relevant to current political circumstances given recurrent discussions of IMF talks with Egypt over a prospective loan agreement that would supposedly help relieve Egypt of its economic troubles.

This song takes on the idea that of the IMF as Egypt’s great savior in a satirical manner. While some of the attacks are subtle, such as "You help me build my home," and "You help me seed my land," therein mocking the patronizing nature of IMF loans to so-called Third World countries, others are straight to the point: "Oh Monetary Fund, poison in honey, who's going to try?"

The song is a refreshing reminder that the crisis and the economic problems in Egypt remain the same, despite changing political players. Perhaps the Muslim Brotherhood delayed the issue of an IMF loan out of fear of popular discontent, yet this song was also written while Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were in power. Now that they, too, have been ousted, it seems that the Egyptian government is that much closer to reaching an agreement with the IMF. 

What is Vox Populi?

Vox Populi features popular artistic and aesthetic expressions that emanate from the Middle East. It seeks to highlight silenced, underrepresented, and/or subversive cultural forms and conduits while challenging hegemonic and mainstream cultural production and narratives about the region. This is accomplished by exploring the actual conditions of reception and consumption of cultural products among popular cultures in the Middle East as they relate to questions of inequality, power, and difference. In addition to showcasing the independent work of ordinary citizens and groups, the page aims to capture new and changing forms, spaces, and avenues of political and social transformations. Through interviews, analysis, individual and institutional profiles, video snippets, films, music videos, and visual and street art, Vox Populi communicates and showcases important trends about/from the region that are often left out in what is otherwise serious analytical treatments.

Featured material does not necessarily constitute an endorsement by Jadaliyya. Rather, it reflects trends, patterns, and emergent spaces for alternative forms of expression. 

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