Yesterday started like any other day in Benghazi. The rumor mill was turning at pace. Sirte was on the verge of falling. The NTC was about to declare an end to hostilities. For days and days, however, we had heard the same, so most of us didn’t expect October 20th to unfold the way it did.
The morning was spent trying to arrange screenings of my film to various English-speaking schools in town. While at the European School, my friend Dado received a call from another friend. Halas. Sirte, the last bastion of Gaddafi, had fallen. Once again, I was a bit skeptical, because I had heard the same before. I went to speak to the Headmaster and didn’t think any more of it.
After the interview, Dado and I headed to the Libya Alhurra tv station to collect footage for the music festival. Something definitely was amiss. Horns honking and Kalashnikov fire at a greater frequency. And even the distant boom of gelatina. Hmm. Perhaps.
We pulled into the station, and joined a crowd gathered by a tv. Sirte has fallen, and some big names have been captured. Yet what of Gaddafi? We waited. Nothing. An interminable period of time passed…and then the cheers erupted. Local news claimed Gaddafi was captured, but once again I was skeptical. After all, Motassim was “captured” 10 days ago. And Saif was “detained” after the fall of Tripoli.
But then the pictures filtered through. Images of what appeared to be a lifeless Gaddafi. And soon Al Jazeera confirmed that it was indeed true. After 42 years of iron fisted rule, the self-styled god king was dead. A man who hovered over his people ominously, even within their dreams, reduced to pleading for his life in a sewage pipe. From whence he came, as some would argue.
We rushed out of the station and headed straight for the courthouse, Dado blasting Dire Straits the whole way. The road was packed. Horns honking. People chanting. Guns firing. There was a palpable energy in the air, one that I had not felt since I was here in April and May. The courthouse area was beginning to fill with people…and the noise was deafening. Walking through the crowd, it was easy to be swept away in the euphoria. For even though the war had been winding down over the last couple of months, the death toll in Sirte was rising steadily, and the specter of Gaddafi still hovered over their lives. Yet now it was over. The head separated from the shaven body.
We spent rest of the afternoon at the courthouse interviewing people, and enjoying the jubilant scenes before taking a siesta. When we returned in the evening, the downtown was absolutely packed. Gridlock everywhere, but nobody cared. We walked by a car accident, but those involved were too excited to pay much notice. Benghazinos and Benghazinas were out in full force, and enjoying a night that they will remember for the rest of their lives. VL Day.
As I walked through the downtown area, I wondered what it would be like in six months. Would the vacuum left by Gaddafi lead to a mass scramble for power? Would one tyrant be replaced by another? Or would Libya become a beacon of light to the rest of the world? Many questions are left unanswered. Yet I can still hear the faint voices of the wives and mothers of the Abu Salim victims on that fateful night in February. “Wake up, Benghazi. Wake up, Benghazi.” On this day, the 20th of October, 2011, I can assure you that Benghazi, and the whole of Libya, has its eyes wide open.
|From Pictures – LIBYA 2011|
Libyan rebels turn converted SUV’s into fighting machines as they defend their families and homeland from Gaddfi’s mercenaries.
Photo taken by Matt Millan May 2011
New hopes, new dreams, new beginnings will harden the spines of anyone. With change floating in the air for all to smell, some acts that seem impossible or even suicidal become rational. In Cairo last week, Libyan refugees tried to storm the Libyan embassy in Egypt. These poor Libyans were offered money in-exchange for supporting Gaddafi’s campaign. The Libyans refused the bribe and turned their efforts towards the embassy.The goal was simple, remove the green Gaddfi flag of Libya and replace it with the red, green, black flag of pre-Gaddfi rule. Obviously, the embassy refused. Egyptian soldiers came to protect the embassy from the Libyan refugees. The tensions soon raised into pushing and shoving between the soldiers and the people. The Libyans grew more and more outraged at the Egyptian soldiers. This provoked the army to bring in a heavy machine gun with live rounds.
One brave man climbed up to the top of the embassy wall. He pulled out the old Libyan flag, the crowd erupted into a roar that signified its strength to the Egyptian army. The soldiers quickly removed the man from the wall as they manhandled him to the ground. Yet the tensions remained high and the tide could go either way. The people started running towards the Embassy door. That started the firing of the machine gun into the air to gain control of the situation. This event almost hit a boiling point and could have easily turned into another massacre for the books. However, showing a great deal of wisdom and courage an elderly man spoke to the people and cooled the situation down. If it was not for this man a boiling point would have been reached. As stated by Matthew Millan, who reported this story, “I would say it skimmed the boiling point… you could palpably see it trying to go over.” Things calmed down eventually, yet the message seems to be the same these days. In parts of the Arab world a conscious ideal is attempting to manifest in reality. The people of Libya, Yemen and Syria are polarized on the same belief that a better life is possible. Oppression and exploitation have reached their own boiling points, that the people are better off fighting and dying if necessary for a better life, than live the old one.
Article written by Erik NielAs seen in this mini protest in Cairo, this ideal is spreading throughout the globe. It is awakening more and more people to the realities of the world. The people are gaining, a momentum that no government or other entity can resist. People are the strength, the power, and when liked up together a force of enormous power is manifested and available for whatever purpose.
The mentioned countries are only a small handful of nations slowing roasting over a global flow of information. Many nations in Africa are, or have been brewing for centuries. Conquered by imperialist of the old world, they still serve their colonial masters. The age of dictators was born, they ruled with an iron fist and a thirst for power. Colonies like Libya formerly controled by Italy, and before, the Ottoman empire have been under rule by others for centuries. As with Libya, the unrest in people reached a critical mass and blew up in the face of their dictator Gaddafi. What I find interesting is the occurrence in these conflicts, as with Egypt, Libya, and Yemen. Like a train of dominos, each one steps up the next to fall. If anything is obviously clear, the people when pushed to inhuman levels of exploitation will eventually respond. Even if their untrained armies loose hundreds of souls, the momentum generated cannot be stopped. People will take over compounds with sticks, they will meet any aggressor face on regardless of his strength. The point is being free.
I can only imagine how sweet the glass of freedom would taste. Once sipped, ones sight has forever been changed. The person begins to see a different world of possibility and realize how much has been taken from them. Anger develops in the heart, then explodes into a full blown rage against the forces that took so much. From there its mathematics, geometric progression throughout the populous.
Freedom is the sight of opportunity and the power to live and imagine. The forces which developed over time have become obsolete. The age of colonialism is finally coming to a close. Here in the 21st century a more even distribution of power, wealth and quality of life will be demanded by the people and the planet. I wish I could say without destruction, but I fear it would lie. The old colonial paradymes of the world are archaic and must be laid down tin the history books. Monsters like Gaddafi, and the others of the world must be cut away, but not forgotten. If a group of students in Libya can mount a nation wild revolution, then any other country can have the courage to say, ‘No More,’ also.
With so many people tasting a new brew of freedom it is only conceivable that more will join in. What countries, what people will be next to stand up and protest to the ruling enitity? Will it be another oil rich country, will it be somewhere in Asia, or will it be somewhere even closer? Anywhere people see policies limiting their lives, or the lives of their grandchildren is fertile soil for the next domino to fall. Word to the wise, ‘leaders of the world, care for your people, feed them well, teach their children, and respect the land or the people will come with a force unimaginable.’
Written by Jak Ahabdune
Jak Ahabdune is an eccentric and enthusiastic writer from Venice, California with a unique, creative approach. Currently, he enjoys writing for e-zines articles and for a variety of websites as well as his own blog site, Jak’s View. He also frequently writes for 180 Films, an independent film company based in Los Angeles. His innovative and inspiring imagination strikes as a fresh draft of originality when he explores topics like skateboarding, consciousness, science, film and music.