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I am from the “Arab Spring generation”: the generation that took the street in 2011 to fight for their dreams. I can no longer talk about a flourishing spring when I think about what is happening in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Egypt. However I am very optimistic about the future of my country. My hopes are so high because I understood from my personal experience that change is possible. During the last few years, I moved from individual research to campaigning against fracking, from doing my first investigative journalism to lobbying the parliament against the abuses of oil companies. I never expected that my work would transform people’s perception and decision-makers’ opinion about the natural resources in Tunisia and lead to the constitutionalization of people’s sovereignty over natural resources.
A week ago, I bought a notebook to write my memories about this four years journey that ended with the adoption of the new Tunisian Constitution. This is an extract of what I written.
Chapter IX: The night I opened the Pandora’s Box
It was a cold night in January 2011. Ben Ali was gone and “Ammar 404”, the mythical Orwellian Tunisian Big Brother was dead. No one was there to monitor what I was Googling. Combinations of keywords led me to unexpected, but astonishing findings. “There is uranium in the Tunisian phosphates? More than fifty multinationals extract oil and gas from the Tunisian soil? Hmmm … This does not fit what we have been taught at school!” the following months feverishly searching for explanations. The newfound freedom fed my curiosity further rather than satisfy it. It took me a while to understand from what I found in trade reports and specialized articles that, contrary to popular belief, Tunisia is not a resource-poor country. This perception of poverty was “merely” due to a problem of opacity, so I decided to open this black box. […]Chapter X: The night the Constitution was adoptedI stood there on the balcony and, together with all those around me, proudly joined in the singing our National Anthem: “If, one day, the people will to live Then destiny must obey Darkness must dissipate Chains are certain to break.” The solemnity of the moment and the strength of those verses gave me goose bumps. My eyes were full of tears … tears of joy and deliverance. The National Constituent Assembly had just adopted a new constitution that would lay the foundation for a newborn democracy, the first of its kind in the Arab World. This seemed like a great achievement, but the intensity of the feelings I was experiencing was for another reason. It became apparent to me that change is possible, real and concrete! All of my efforts were not in vain. I could finally be proud of my perseverance and what I had achieved, in particular, Article 13 for which : “Natural Resources are owned by the Tunisian People. The state exercises sovereignty over them in its name. Investment contracts related to these resources shall be presented to the competent committee in the Assembly of the Representatives of the People. The agreements concluded shall be submitted to the Assembly for approval.”[…]I will not publish this story now; I want it to be part of the autobiography of a leader who believed in change since he was young and who, throughout his lifetime, directed his energy and passion towards building his “Tunisian Dream”. But in order to be a great change maker, I find that it is not enough to be a dreamer and a fighter. I need to get a strong academic background that allows me to understand the complexity of today’s issues and to be prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. It is time to go college.