Libya 2011

Journalism - Special Assignments



Grasini & Figi

In the morning I walked down .the harbor. The sky was lead, rain was carried with storm wind. The boy that drove me the night before in the desert said that he does not remember a year like this- all the greenery in the desert. At 4 AM somebody through 2 hand grenade to the Hotel Kuso's Lobi. Kaddafi's people aiming at the Media? More air attacks in Ras Lanouf.

I was filming the Libyan war ships as 2 guards ran towards me saying it is not allowed - they led me inside the harbor - I showed them the journalist card i received from the rebels media center and the had of the port shook my hands.

Just before that a youngster walked into the media center holding unexploded mortar bomb.

"look" he said to his friends "its from Israel!"

It was not. This is the war around here- disinformation, amateurs and naivitee.

I walked on. in front of the harbor stands a beautiful palace.

"You know what this is?" asked me a man in a suit. He was in his 60s and looked an Intellectual.

Professor Figi studied for 11 years in Fiorenze and is the one responsible on Architecture in Benghazi.

"This is the Palacio bulid for Grassini by 3 famous Italian Architects in 1931. Grassini was the Governor of Libya under Mussolini - a great time in Italian Architecture that influenced the eastern Mediterranean.

Libya was conquered by the British in the 2nd ww and then came independence in 1951 and King Idris came into power - it became his palace, and from the balcony overlooking the piaza he took his first speak to his people.

"It was build in a distinct Libyan architecture" said Figi, that took from local north African architecture."

The palace was fool of grace and from its windows you could see the sea and the ships. The rooms were huge but everything was smashed - in the celebration of chasing Qaddafi somebody burned and looted.

"You know the Italians build the big Cathedral with 2 domes - Roman Catholic - they took the dome from the mosque and doubled it."

"And what about the Jews?"

"Long gone."

"Their synagogue?"

"Vanished"

"And what about the Jews?"

"Long gone."

"Their synagogue?"

"Vanished"

We set in the main hall and Figi was speaking about how Kadaffi was afraid of the dead - the way he destroyed the tomb of Ali Muxtar - the man who rose against the Italians and was killed at old age in 1931. Omar Muxtar is the symbol of the new revolt. Qaddafi tried to annihilate the memory of Omar Muxtar.

"After the revolution I want to restore the tomb to its original place near Tripoli" he said "I have all the plans. And to build a museum for Qaddafi's crimes against our people. You know. Qaddafi is saying we are a bunch of tribes - of course we were - there is nothing shameful in it, but long ago we emerged into people- we intermarried and we are one now- and the people are against him. Only if for one reason - For Freedom! He took away our freedom, chased away with fear - there is not even one family in Libya that did not loose a family member - he killed many of us. Freedom is essence, nobody can live without freedom!

"You know that he didnt let us even name the hotels - he interfered with everything - there is a huge wonderful lake by Benghazi - he directed the sewage system of the city to the lake 10 years ago. Every day the city pores 100, 000 cubic meters into the lake- destroyed!

You know that oppressed people live in dreams about the past because the present is impossible.

Now its the first time in my 64 years that I can live in the present and dream the future. That was my father's dream , he died before it came true. But i See it! and now I shall die happy.

The boys brought us cappuchino. It was an Italian colony.

"You know the Turks left her in 1911 and then it changed into Italian hands. Its exactly 100 years now and it comes back to the free people of Libya. We can manage- We have culture, We are educated and we are reach. Till we had the fuel we were the poorest country in Africa and Qaddafi that comes from the poorest village in Libya south of Sirt robed us from our rashness- but now that it is back to our free hands - its going to be reach. With culture. With freedom.