Libya by Aziza Baza
If you had asked me to remain in my country five months ago -- I would have hesitated. Not for the lack of love or appreciation, but rather the dim outlook on its future.
My country had been sucked dry from all its beauty, wealth and grandeur. It was like a red-breasted robin caged within the dark dismal shadow of a hunting cat. Afraid to show its beauty, sing its song, fly its wings of freedom.
Its youth, us, aging within our minds. Our hairs greying before their time. Our parents dying for they are now old, fifty. If you reach 70 years of age, you are a living legend.
Liver sclerosis is widespread, alcohol is not. Scurvy is widespread, dental hygiene is not. Diabetes is widespread, adequate healthcare is not. Schools are widespread, education is not. Universities lack basic facilities, such as computers, laboratories, and internet access. Heads of departments within universities hold nothing more than Junior Level Certificates to their names. How did they reach that position you ask?
They know Gaddafi.
The beginning of the end of emotional and mental poverty was born on February 17th 2011. The new date of birth for all of Libya.
The diamonds within the rough emerged and did what no man before them could do. They stood before their oppressor, armed with nothing more than faith, loyalty and moral strength. Characteristics absent within their so called leader. Their voices bellowed beyond the streets, mountains and shook the walls of his compound.
It was on that day that every young man that sat outside a shop and whistled at a passing girl, the young man that slipped his number into her bag and cheekily followed her until she responded. The young man that gave up on searching for work and looked into travelling abroad. The young man that fought with his neighbour over football then took him out for pizza as an apology. It was on that day; those men rose and became our heroes.
The legends of Libya.
They are, we are, the children of Omar Al-Mukhtaar.
We knew our uprising would differ to Egypt and other countries. For our lives had been different. We were ruled by an iron fist. For forty two years we could not mention his name without suffering frightening consequences. Now we dare to speak to him and ask for our rights and freedom.
This would anger the barbaric beast.
Family after family mourned losses because of this man. Families were torn apart as lives were ripped out and replaced with hollow pangs. If you practiced your religion devotedly, you deserved to be captured and tortured. If you were friends with those that did, you best run in fear if you are not caught.
Our meals were controlled. He decided when we ate Lamb, Chicken, Fish etc He decided what websites we could access. If he was angry with a city, they did not receive the luxury of food. He decided who could leave or return to Libya. He decided if we are worthy of electricity, clean drinking water etc He decided that the average wage would be 200LY (law number 15), leaving little or no means to clothe, shelter and feed a family. He decided that if a person entered an empty home and stayed one night in it, that home and all its belonging legally became theirs. Law number 4 caters for the confiscation of private and commercial property, practically passing such stolen properties to the members of his family and of its so called revolutionary committee members who are in charge of security.
He had and still has spies worldwide. They would monitor every Libyan's life. Who they spoke to, where they worked, their family links back in Libya, what they spoke about etc. Everything was reported back to him. If you dare to utter a word against him, you and your family's lives were at risk. If the spies were angry with you, they would abuse their powers and blacklist you.