In a country where it is a revolutionary sin to name football players by sport commentators and where government officials are anonymous, banished to be known by their real names, where you are branded with the cursed seal of being born with all the wrong stereotypes. When you are guilty of bedouinism, terrorism, fascism, despotism, and racist bigotry, I can still draw a silly smile and face all the destruction and ugliness with an irritating and unrelenting optimism.
I don’t claim divine wisdom, neither do I lack insight, but I can still look into the mirror of our past and future and see the bigger picture with bright corners and rosy expectations. I can lose faith in myself and in some other divine beings but I am not ready to lose faith in who we really are, and where we came from to reach this point.
For all the dark periods in our recent history, for all the social, political, economic changes, good and bad, that we faced as a nation, for all the frustrations and disappointments we feel everyday, I can shout loudly that I am proud to belong to this land, which one day, nearly 60 years ago, was a battle ground for more “supreme” beings, and the most southern border of the known old world. A land that started from nearly nothing, and built its identity, the last valuable thing we shouldn’t shy from or barter.
In 1947, at the age of twelve, my father along with his parents, siblings and other extended family member migrated to Tripoli, from the mountainous town of Yefren, after suffering drought and famine, they were very poor, poor to the limit that they had to eat clay sometimes to kill banging hunger, poor to the limit they grew small tomato plants in moist, shaded caves while sitting to guard them from waves of locusts, which were caught in small bags and sold by the kilo in the local market. Until 1948 my father could barely read and write Arabic and spoke mostly in Amazighi, but by 1958 he was travelling to Benghazi to become one of the first of his family to enter the Libyan university graduating with a Bachelor degree in economics, and learning Italian and English.
This is the story of most Libyans of that generation. This is the Libyan dream, nothing unique, nothing miraculous, and nothing to be falsely proud of, but simple and humble progress towards reaching our ambitions to be. For one reason only, that we believed in our will to change, that even before the political slogan of Mr. Obama was coined, we truly believed that “yes we can”.
This is a small insight from a Time’s article (Birth of a Nation) written few days after Libya’s declaration of independence on 24th December 1951 that might give us
a broader view of how it all began.