Beirut: I am unashamed to admit how much I’ve cried in pride for being Lebanese. Since I rushed to Riad Solh Square to participate in this unforeseen and unprecedented uprising that started last Thursday.
I was in a café with a friend at Sodeco at 9pm when news broke about protestors gathering in downtown Beirut.
“This is big. I have to go there,” I told my friend as we paid and left.
Walking down to join protestors, I was excited.
Countless thoughts rush through my head and my body was shivering in excitement.
For as long as I can remember the economy has been unstable, stagnant and seemingly always on the verge of collapse.
The youth had very little hope and many travelled abroad after graduating seeking stable employment opportunities.
I was one of them.
I graduated from Lebanese American University in 1999, but remained unemployed for three years.
At that time, the country’s financial state was much better than it is today, still it wasn’t good enough for me to find a job.
I left to the UAE and worked there for more than 15 years before I decided it was time for me to return home.
I wanted to give Lebanon one more chance.
Since I’ve been back this year I have been trying to fit back in, but everyday seems gloomier than the previous day.
I walk in the streets and see the people—many are hungry, most are angry.
I’m struggling as well. Despite being a hopeful person, its very hard to keep moving forward in this depressing situation.
Now, I started thinking that emigrating to Canada, Europe or Australia to find work would be a better option for me.
It is clear that the protesters are not content merely with cosmetic changes, they want the whole system to be uprooted.
I believe Lebanese are ready for a full-fledged secular and liberal society.
For years, Lebanese have been held hostage to sectarian-driven politics.
Most Lebanese flew the flags of their political parties, but today all you see is a sea of white, red, and green—the colour of the Lebanese flag.
Slogans that captured my attention most were the calls for major constitutional amendments to terminate sectarianism.
I never thought I would see so many people chant against their own political leaders—unchaining themselves from their sectarian affiliations.
The past five days have reinforced my feeling of pride as a Lebanese citizen.
I am witnessing something truly magical in my country
I am witnessing something truly magical in my country and even though I am struggling now, I am happy to be here in this moment.
-Bassam Za’Za is a freelance journalist based in Beirut. His Twitter handle is: @bassamzaza