It can officially be called a revolution now. After 18 days of demonstrations that saw millions of Egyptians take to the streets in demanding an end to 30 years of President Hosni Mubarak, they can now declare victory. Shortly after 6pm Cairo time on Friday, Vice-President Omar Suleiman announced to the nation what 80 million people had been waiting for: Mubarak was resigning and giving Egypt back to its rightful owners -- the Egyptians.
"I just can't believe it ... we knew it would happen, but it is still so amazing," said Engy, a 34-year-old aid worker, minutes before Mubarak spoke to the country.
With the abdication of Mubarak from his post, Egyptians hope will see an end to indiscriminate arrests, violence, police abuse, corruption and torture. The path was not always straight, but with the breaking down of the sense of fear instilled by the aging dictator on January 25, Egyptians were able to do what was almost unthinkable three weeks ago. They took down the dragon, in a true Bilbo sense.
However, the only negative from Mubarak's exit is the fact that his henchman, Omar Suleiman, is now in power. Demonstrators do not want Suleiman, they want a new government that has the interests of the people at its heart. The protesters have said they would remain stalwart until all their demands are met.
Mubarak could survive an assassination attempt -- Ethiopia 1993 -- but he could not withstand the will of the Egyptian people, who over the past 17 days showed they were a people, and a country, able to come together in their cause that is Egypt.
The names that made the revolution possible are long, some lost their lives, while others will lead a new generation of Egyptians into the future, one free from a ruthless leader who did little for a people and a nation. Among those names are Khaled Said -- the young Alexandrian who was murdered by police last summer, setting the stage for these protests -- and Kareem Amer -- the blogger who spent four years behind bars for criticizing Mubarak and al-Azhar -- and Wael Ghonim -- the Google executive who put a face to the millions after being kidnapped and detained for 12 days during the protests. The list is long, and all deserve their credit.
One could take this political obituary to describe the wrongs of the 30 years of Mubarak's government, but that would do unjustly for a people who have persevered in every sense of the world. Currently, nearly half of Egyptians live on less than $2 per day; inflation continues to rise dramatically and salaries remain stagnant.
Yes, there are still problems facing the country, especially economically, but the reality -- and the massive celebrations that persist across the country -- is that these problems can be tackled by the Egyptian people, a transitional government that speaks for 80 million not a handful of corrupt politicians. Egyptians are ready for that change and the world should be as well.
"This is a momentous moment. We don't know what the future of Egypt holds, but one without Mubarak and the people who have tortured and killed our fellow citizens can only be one of hope and optimism," said Rania Mohamed, a 22-year-old Cairo University student.
That is the sentiment on the streets at this point. Optimism. But, the world must understand that if Omar Suleiman takes over the helm of presidency in Egypt, Egyptian protesters will not leave the streets. They want a complete regime change, one without the cronies of Mubarak's three decades in power.
It is history unfolding, as American President Barack Obama said on Thursday afternoon, but one that remains unclear. Mubarak is gone, but what does the future of Egypt hold? Now, the Egyptian people know they can take their country back. It has started.