It’s taken a while but I’ve gotten to the stage of checking my Twitterfeed first thing in the morning. Yes, my ban on news stories is long over. So it came to pass that on Thursday October 20th, 2011 I was fully awoken by what normally just arouses my mind. What? Quadafi captured and possibly dead? Impossible. No way! I was in Boston for the 49th IDSA annual conference and I had planned to go to one of the early sessions so I was up really early.
I had woken up begrudgingly to the sound of my alarm but now I was wide awake, in shock and my mind was reeling from what I had just read. I turned on the TV in my hotel room and flipped from news station to news station. Indeed. The capture of Quadafi was sort of breaking news. Had he really been captured? Who had done it? Was it the rebels? Was it NATO? Hilary Clinton didn’t seem too impressed by whatever it was that was on the Blackberry handed her. Meanwhile al-Jazeera on my twitterfeed was reporting that he was hurt, that he had died from his wounds including a shot to the head. But still the news on the TV was debating whether or not Quadafi had indeed been captured for real this time.
I believed my Twitterfeed and I sat dumbfounded. Quadafi not only finally caught, but dead? And then I started to wonder why it was I felt sad. I thought back to when Quadafi first made his appearance on the landscape of my brain. It was probably the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. I was nine and living in Germany. Muammar Muhammad al-Qadafi – the Colonel with the miltary uniform made his appearance alongside Mohammed Yasser Rahmen al-Husseini, the old man with the black & white checkered scarf on his head. Their names mesmerized me.
A couple years later, I was in Ghana learning about Kwame Nkrumah, pan-Africanism and the independence movements of several African countries. Those days of Africa’s bright future. On the other hand I was learning of Ghana’s multiple coups, of Doctor Doctor Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, of multiple self-proclaimed African dictators for life and their downtrodden peoples. Both times Quadafi made his appearance, and both times I must admit he was painted positively. Our Brother Leader. Our man to the North who seemed to align himself to Africa more so than to the Middle East unlike the others up there. Quadafi who carried on Nkrumah’s flame of a “United States of Africa”. Quadafi, who when the West commanded “jump” to us all, would rise above and defiantly rain truth-laced insults instead. What was not to like?
Now trust, I’m not saying Quadafi was a good man. I’m just sharing what I knew of him in my childhood. And what I learned of Quadafi while living in Ghana was positive. After all, wasn’t he good friends with our very own Junior Jesus? It wasn’t until I came to the US that the negative caricature of Quadafi begun again. The Libyan link to Lockerbie. The mad eccentric Quadafi who spoke nonsense at the UN’s General Assembly causing respected diplomats and world leaders to clamor for the exit in droves. And while with age I had come to learn that like other African dictators, especially those of military background, he had done his own people wrong, I still “liked” his gall and tenacity to tell the western world to mind their own business (of course more colourful) and to continue to campaign for Africa for the Africans and the idea of a united Africa.
I’m sorry. I’m not normally one of those conspiracy theories kinda-gal. But I don’t believe that the West has ever had Africa’s best interest to heart. I don’t believe that African leaders have their countries best interest to heart either, but that’s another story. I will admit that when the people of Libya started to revolt against their leader following suit of Tunisia and Egypt I was glad. Finally, another long term leader gone. Next, it should be Mugabe, then Musaveni, then Mbasongo, then Dos Santos. They all need to go. Time is up! You have overstayed your welcome. The young people are restless for change! What an exciting time. But Quadafi the great (and crazy) held on tight. Eiii, the poor man. When NATO started to interfere I saw right through the act. I didn’t like it one bit. Cause for democracy my foot. Mugabe is still sitting there is he not? Is Somalia still not torn apart? Did they run to the cause of the Sudanese over the past couple decades?
Quadafi, our King of Kings, needed to go. True. In the past few months, I pitied him. I wondered if he was senile now, on top of his enigmatic madness. I hoped for the sake of the Libyans that they too would win their revolution and that the waves of the Arab Spring would find the way to each corner of the African continent for a real well deserved cleansing. Clearly, Thursday October 20th, 2011 was a historic transition not only for Libya, but for Africa. But that doesn’t change the fact that the assassination (murder, killing, execution call it what you want) of Quadafi was not only wrong but disgusting and disturbing. I don’t care how many of his own he tortured and killed. I don’t care if he gave the orders for the Lockerbie bombing. An eye is not given for an eye. It is not for us to decide the fate of another human being nor should the killing of a one be celebrated.
Hmm. This world we live in.
Well, Libya, you’ve gotten your wish. Your Quadafi is gone and the threat of one of his sons left behind to continue the tyranny gone too. I only hope you fashion your democracy (surely Islamic, possibly Sharia) in a manner that pleases the West. For your sake. Sometimes the devil you know…