Life in Libya: Celebrating fateh

September 2, 2010

What a night. Libya celebrated fateh, which kind of translates into opening. It signifies the beginning of Qaddafi's revolution and reign. Yusra and I got press credentials to the Sept. 1 celebration at a racetrack in Tripoli's city centre. There was horse racing, fireworks, female military formations, African dignitaries, music and thousands of people. In his 41 years of power, Qaddafi's reputation has morphed. He was a public enemy during the Reagan years but now the U.S. is congratulating Libyans on the Sept 1 anniversary. Qaddafi's evil image of the 1980s has morphed into that of a quirky leader with a fashion flair. His big cause over the last 10 years is bringing together a United States of Africa. Last night's celebration lauded "brother leader." Alas, the colonel did not make any remarks. Someone explained to me that despite all of the pomp and circumstance, this was a low-key fateh Who knew? The crowd eventually dispersed at 2:30 a.m. The streets remained packed. Before going to the race track, Yusra and I attended the VIP dinner. We got pretty close to him. See pictures to right. My plan of the colonel seeing me in a crowd and requesting an interview was, unfortunately, foiled. Natalie is traveling to Libya under a fellowship from the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media at Columbia College.

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