Waking up in the old room,adjusting to the new reality of the place, recalling the details of the housethat used to be and still is home, after long and eventful weeks and months, Irealised that I am back in Libya.

I didn’t have a plan for thisvisit, besides spending good time with the family and listening to themnarrating their account of the past months, their hopes and fears, I decided tolet my plans loose, and to reflect on the dramatic change the country is goingthrough.

I found a stack of new Libyannewspapers; my brother got me before I arrived, so I sat down and browsed themall. There were 18 newspapers, a small portion of over a hundred publicationsthat are circulating in free Libya since the revolution in February. In generalthey all seemed to focus on revolutionary propaganda, and raising awareness onissues like security and protecting public services and encouraging the commongood. Some of the newspapers are published by The (Authority of SupportingPress), which replaced the state run (General Press Corporation), which used toown and run all Gaddafi regime newspapers. The new authority will offer fundingand logistical support for some newspapers but claims it won’t interfere in theway these newspapers are run, so far it’s too early to evaluate most newspapers,and I can assume that most of them will dissolve due to lack of resources andonly a dozen or more will manage to survive and progress.

In the evening I was invitedto attend a political party – under establishment – meeting, this was anopportunity to experience part of the political debate that is forming andbrewing in Libya. Many Libyan political and intellectual figures are preparingthemselves to take part in the new political process in Libya through formingpolitical parties that are all under establishment until a new party and electionbill is approved, which is expected in the next several months.

I listened to middle aged menand some young activists debating details of the party’s constitution andmanifesto, and the upcoming press conference they plan to have in few days todeclare the establishment of their political party and invite people to becomemembers. It was weird and surreal to listen to Libyans talking and debatingparty politics after decades of incrimination of any party activities in Libya,when the word ‘Party’ became synonymous to treason and persecution.

Driving around Tripoli isn’tan easy task, the infrastructure; roads, traffic signs and lights are in a verypoor condition, combined with a significant amount of rainfall during the previousdays made driving hazardous, but after a few hours you regain an ‘innate’Libyan sense of driving in the city.

I went to visit myGrandmother, an 80 years old lady that lived most of her life in her house inAzzawiya Street, near the main Tripoli Central Hospital that I used to work foras a junior surgeon. I always enjoy chatting with Grandmother, as she remindsme of the days we spent as kids at her house, when the family was small andintimate. She told me about the hard days during the early days of therevolution and her fears when NATO planes began bombing Gaddafi intelligenceheadquarters not far away from her house. She kept saying that all this bombingreminded her of her impoverished childhood and how she witnessed the bombingcampaign of the allies on Tripoli during WWII against Fascist Italy and NaziGermany that occupied the city.

After leaving Grandma’shouse, I decided to head to Martyrs Square and experience some of the joy andjubilation we saw on Television. The square was almost deserted, few cars wereparked in the middle, while wind blew posters and banners of martyrs hanging onthe Red Castle, few cars passed by raising the independence flag, and someyoung men with military fatigues fired unenthusiastically few shots in the air,as a celebration for the Libyan national football team reaching the finals ofthe African Cup of Nations. I didn’t stay long, and decided to return duringthe day to take some shots with my camera when some real celebration isplanned, although it seems that people passed the point of celebration and arenow sinking into the reality of daily life.

Driving back home through Hayal-Andalous and Gergarish, stopping at two or three checkpoint on the way,observing many cars brandishing stickers and banners of Libyan revolutionary symbols,and witnessing the usual daily fights of young men, I contemplated how muchchange did we achieve during this revolution?

It is obvious that we gonethrough a dramatic event, and in some cases a traumatic one, but it’s still yetto be seen how this event will affect the behaviour and mentality of Libyans,and whether we will get over revolutionary rhetoric and symbo
ls of patriotismtowards a sober rational reflection on this dramatic change we went through,but for the time being it was liberating to drive around Tripoli without theimage of big brother dominating the streets and minds of Libyans.

To be continued…