Thursday, October 27, 2011


When news broke that Colonel Gaddafi had been captured, the mood ranged from relief to quiet disappointment, and to clear jubilation. However, the drama that was to follow has kept everyone riveted on the Libya story. First was the confusion about the way he met his death. The NTC had released contradictory statements on Thursday last week following Gaddafi's capture in Sirte. Owing to NTC's unclear statements on the happenings in Sirte, conspiracy theorists had a field day painting Gaddafi has the 21st century Houdini who had once again pulled his disappearing act on the tribe behind NATO's bombing campaign and the rebels they supported. Several news reports after, the dust had settled. The proof of Gaddafi's capture and subsequent death was in the proof of the gruesome photos and videos that people all over the world were treated to. And no matter how some would go ahead to live in denial by calling the released photos "a hoax" and "fake", as hours passed, one thing was certain, the eccentric Libyan leader with his love for over the top military uniforms, Bedouin tents, aviator sunglasses and female bodyguards wasn't coming back from whatever dark place the NTC had dispatched him to. The pictures of the former Libyan's leader's bloodied clothes and the disjointed stories that accompanied them convinced the world at some point that Gaddafi had been captured alive but died of wounds sustained during his capture. Four days later, new facts have emerged and NATO's bedfellows have admitted that Gaddaf's death was more of a summary execution than anything else.

But I digress. Now as we watch with bated breaths or clinical detachment the events unfolding in Libya, it is obvious that things will never be the same again. As much as I am tempted to veer off course and tackle the hypocritical war that toppled Colonel Gaddafi, I have decided to dedicate this write up to the women of Libya. The ones I saw with gleeful expressions in the crowds that turned out in Benghazi and Misrata to celebrate the death of Gaddafi. As I remember these jubilant women against the backdrop of the recent statement credited to Mahmoud Jibril, Libya's new prime minister that Libya's new legal system will have "an Islamic tint and existing laws that contradict the teachings of Islam will be nullified", I wonder just how many of them are still smiling and pumping their fists in the air. While I am harshly critical of the messianic syndrome and sit tight fever that most African leaders suffer from, I am wary of the intervention of greedy western powers that most times bring more grief than relief to the countries they invade, and Libya has slowly started evolving from the near perfect developed African country we all loved to brag about to a country run by extremists in business with imperialists. Now I beg to indulge in the repeating of commonly known facts. During Gaddafi's reign, there was very little poverty in Libya. The country had the best living standards in Africa. Libya had free healthcare, free education, free farmland, a house and seeds, free energy bills, $50,000 housing money for just married couples, and interest free loans. Libya was a debt free country (unlike most African states befriended by the West), had near free gasoline prices, plus the government paid half the price for your car, among other benefits. Oh, and the women? Libyan women enjoyed more freedom than their counterparts in the Arab world. In fact, Libyan women enjoyed the same freedom with their Western counterparts. They enjoyed free education, and enjoyed rights that saw them driving cars when the women in the Arab world were jailed for daring to get behind a car wheel. Gaddafi with his revolutionary idea that a woman should be trained in the art of war walked his talk by employing female bodyguards. There was no doubt that Gaddafi did not see women as mere accessories to be used for decoration and banished into the background where a mumble of acquiescence is all that is necessary for speech.

Women under Gaddafi were liberated and enjoyed vast human rights, but apparently that will no longer be the case. The US and its allies, in a display of psychotic behaviour and shameless double speak have decided that for the West to survive, it has to work with rebels who clearly share the same ideals with the terrorists they claim to wage wars against. NATO as a military arm of the imperialist West has decided that it is willing to sacrifice those very tenets on which Western democracy and ideals are built on for oil. America, France and Britain have decided that the loss of women rights in Libya is a small price to pay for the gain of Libyan oil. So, while I mull over the new prime minister's words especially the part that lifts the restriction on the number of wives Libyan men can take, I shake my head at the loss of innocence. As the scramble for Libya's oil begins, as the West trips over itself to demand answers over Gaddafi's cold blooded murder, as "friends" of the new Libyan government promise to "redistribute" Gaddafi's wealth among Libyans, as aid becomes a new reality for Libyans, as the new government trades the rights of Libyans for the lure of having multiple wives, I hope that the women of Libya will always remember life as it was before the hawks descended.

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