Kefteji’s anniversary – one year of covering the Tunisian uprising

It’s hard to believe it’s been a year, but 126 articles later, the Kefteji blog still has plenty to say about the ever-changing political and social landscape in Tunisia.

Last year in my first post on this site I wrote:

I am writing to document this moment in history and to think about the joy, the optimism, the contradictions, and the fear borne of this new found freedom. The Tunisian revolution has been an opportunity for an entire society to have a debate (sometimes publicly, sometimes privately) about what society should be…It’s an opportunity that has raised profound questions about what government should be, the value of democracy and its limitations, the role of religion and the state, and the intersection of development, corruption, and international finance.

Today, as I write, instability has continued to plague the country, Tunisians debate openly about whether they are on the right track, and religion, corruption, and the economy are as important as ever.

Despite the peaceful handover of power following free and fair elections and the appointment of a representative assembly, Tunisia’s future is still very much up in the air. Which is all the more reason to continue monitoring, analyzing and debating Tunisia’s politics and culture.

Thanks to all my readers for a great first year. The growth in readership over the last year has been astounding to me and I appreciate all of the comments, feedback, and support. Keep it up and I will too! Happy reading.

Website update

I’ve made some changes to the website today. The most significant is aligning the blog name to my Twitter name and site URL – Kefteji.

Kefteji, besides being one of my favorite Tunisian dishes, is a metaphor for Tunisian society. At its best, Kefteji is a balanced mix of Tunisia’s bountiful agricultural production, a balance of spicy peppers, garlic, olive oil and eggs. But, if unbalanced – the peppers too spicy, or the eggs undercooked – it can be a disaster. I’ll try to keep my posts balanced, like the best kefteji.

From a content perspective, I’ll be refocusing some of my work toward highlighting Tunisian voices. Up until now, I’ve mostly written with my own voice, using my own analysis. In the coming months, I hope to update more regularly, using more Tunisian voices as springboards for conversations. I’ll be highlighting not just Tunisian writers that I read, but also reaching out to Tunisians to contribute to Kefteji. Contributions are more than welcome.

Creating the Future in Tunisia

Never in my life have I ever felt like I do today, or have for the last 6 months. I arrived in Tunisia on December 30, 2010, 16 days prior to Ben Ali’s departure. Prior to the revolution Tunisia was a suffocating place intellectually. Political thoughts were kept to oneself and the media was heavily censored, including some of the tightest controls over the internet in the world.

And then, suddenly, as if out of nowhere, a people rose up. And there was freedom.

This was freedom not in the way that you say you are free in America or in Europe, where it’s a metaphor for the acceptance of the social contract you were born into. But freedom in that now you could go out on the street and yell at the top of your lungs what you thought about anything. Freedom that you could log into facebook and not think you were being monitored. Freedom in that you could write a blog about whatever you wanted and not fear getting kicked out of the country.

It is that freedom that has compelled me to write here. I am writing to  document this moment in history and to think about the joy, the optimism, the contradictions, and the fear borne of this new found freedom. The Tunisian revolution has been an opportunity for an entire society to have a debate (sometimes publicly, sometimes privately) about what society should be. Who has that kind of opportunity in their lifetimes? I certainly haven’t. It’s an opportunity that has raised profound questions about what government should be, the value of democracy and its limitations, the role of religion and the state, and the intersection of development, corruption, and international finance.

Today in Tunisia I feel like a special guest. A guest that has been given the opportunity to see a people make choices that could impact generations and inspire people around the world. Having been given that opportunity, I am writing to document what I see, what I feel, and what I hear and I hope this will give my readers (and myself) a better understanding of the world that we live in and the choices we make as citizens.