Friday, October 28, 2011

Cats of the Libyan Revolution

The war is over, Libya has been liberated, life is slowly returning to normal. We see less and less freedom fighters on the roads, fewer guns, and a reduced number of checkpoints. 

As I was going to work one day last week the traffic slowed to a crawl and I craned my neck around the truck in front of me, trying to see what was holding up traffic but there was no checkpoint in sight. The traffic continued at a crawl. Suddenly I spotted what was holding us up. In the very centre of the road was a tiny little kitten. Drivers were trying to avoid hitting the poor little thing. As I pulled up next to it I stopped and said to my daughter 'Open the door carefully and go pick it up'. 

My daughter got back in the car with the kitten and exclaimed 'Mom it's so dirty! And her eye is infected' 'Don't worry. We'll get her sorted out later when we get home' I replied. 'Is it male or female?' I asked. 'It's a girl. What should we name her?' my daughter asked and then she started listing off all the names she could think of. 'Wait and see, we'll find a name' I replied.

I only had a few hours of work, my daughter looked after the kitten while she waited for me to finish. When we got home I told my daughter to feed the kitten and let it get used to our house. 

Later I had a look at her. She was filthy and her eye was infected, pus matting all the fur on her face, her eye was sealed shut. I gave her a warm bath, and gently wiped away the dried pus with a clean soft cloth. Then I dried her under the warm air of the hairdryer set to the lowest speed and temperature. Her eye was swollen and I wasn't sure if she even had an eye. I got out some eye ointment that I had in the medicine cabinet and applied it gently. She was so patient and sweet - never made a single complaint.

Our newest addition after we rescued her and gave her a bath.
She's just a little 'ole alleycat. I decided to name her Zenga, the Libyan word for alley which was also made famous during the Libyan uprising - Zenga Zenga! Dar dar! She's the last of the cats we aquired during the Libyan revolution. It seemed fitting to give her the name Zenga. 

Last March at the beginning of NATO's intervention in Libya and 'Odyssey Dawn', the code name for the US operation in Libya, our cat Dawn gave birth to three kittens during a particularly scary air raid; one calico we named Odyssey - my son later gave her to one of the neighbours, a pure black one  named Layla - she later dissapeared, possibly eaten by an owl, and the last a typical striped male that we named Homer after the Greek writer of the famous epic poem The Odyssey.   

Homer's favourite hobby is knocking over coffee mugs. He manages to break a few every week. In the morning he sleeps on my bed where he enjoys the morning sunbeams. The rest of the day he can be found sleeping on top of my computer or draped across the top of the keyboard. 

Homer resting in the sunbeams.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where Were You The Day Kadafy Met His End?

Yesterday marked the end of an era, the end of Kadafy. I was sitting at my desk getting some things ready for work when I heard guns going off in my neighbourhood, and the sound of a young boy shouting in the distance. 'Allah Akbar! God is great! Kadafy is dead! Kadafy is dead!' At first I just sat and listenened, not sure if what I was hearing was real. Then I called out to my daughters to switch the TV on to the news. Sure enough, they were reporting that there were unconfirmed reports that Kadafy was dead. 

Pictures! Videos! Show us some proof! 

Soon enough a still shot was presented on Aljazeera English and it was soon followed by mobile phone video footage of Kadafy's blood spattered body. By then the entire country had erupted into crazed euphoria. Guns were blasting away, horns were blaring, people could be heard shouting out 'Allah Akbar!' Someone went to our neighbourhood mosque and was shouting over the microphones, but he was soon replaced by a recording of the takbir played on a constant loop. 

I tried to call my husband but the phone service was so clogged by users calling all at once that it shut down temporarily. He finally managed to get through to me and told me not to leave the house as the celebratory gunfire was dangerous, and traffic in and around the city was so jammed it was hard to move around the city anyway. 

I got a text message from OTE that said 'Ding dong the witch is dead!' a phrase taken from a song from the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'. Within a few seconds the same message was sent again, and again, and again, every few minutes. AlMadar's sms service was going berzerk but it was so funny that it was this same message that kept being sent to me. It was as if AlMadar was sending me a singing telegram..... 

'Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead, Ding dong the witch is dead' 

I started laughing and singing the song out loud. And I wasn't alone -  Everyone in my house was either laughing, singing, shouting 'Allah Akbar' or dancing. Some of us doing all of them at once! It was as if we'd all gone crazy. This must be the hallucinatory drugs Kadafy had talked about! His death was like a drug - a happy, euphoric drug! And we were all high on it.

After a while the noise in my neighbourhood died down, most likely because everyone had gone inside to watch the news on TV. The internet turned to a crawl as everyone with internet access attempted to download the emerging news footage and videos that were hitting the web faster than the television news services could televise them.

When my husband came home I suggested we have a celebratory meal of bourdeam (meat smoked in an underground pit) with rice and salad. The meat had been marinating and was ready. So that got us away from the television for a while. But when our meal was ready we ate in front of the TV - glued to the news, watching images and video of Kadafy and his son Motesem and listening to everyone speculate as they reported the news. All the while the whole town continued to honk their car horns and shoot off guns. Soon there were even fireworks showering the sky with beautiful colour and light shows.

We all felt so happy to see the end of Kadafy. It's hard to explain the way we felt. Like walking on cloud nine, like walking on air, like having a huge weight removed from our hearts. Euphoria is a good word but how to describe it because you won't know euphoria until you're struck by it. 

We stayed up until late watching TV and checking the news on the internet. Finally we decided to go to bed. 

In the morning we packed up our breakfast picnic and headed out the door for our Friday drive. In some areas the streets were coated with a layer of bullet casings from last night's celebrations. We headed toward Bab Al Azizia. In the past week the walls surrounding Kadafy's old compound had been bulldozed. But there were still many people arriving to have a look at what remained. 

The bulldozed wall surrounding Bab Al Azizia
A flea market had been set up in front of Kadafy's bombed out house and people were buying and selling their wares under the hot morning sun. One section had been turned into a pet market and people were gathering around to look at the dogs on display.  

The Friday morning flea market in front of Kadafy's bombed out house.
Kadafy is gone. Some people think it's a shame that he's not alive to face justice. But I think Libya's wasted enough time on him - forty-two years is long enough. It's time to look toward the future. Libyans have a long road ahead of them. I am so proud that I was here to witness this day in history. 

The view of downtown Tripoli from the broken walls of Bab Al Azizia.

Monday, October 17, 2011

It's my birthday

I hope I get the best present ever. . . . .I'll let you guess what that is.
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

UPDATED | And the truth shall soon be known: Mis/Dis-information and Libya

As I was drifting off to sleep last night I was abruptly awoken by a barrage of gunfire and shouts of  'Allah Akbar' coming from all directions. My children, who were all still awake, ran out to see what was happening while my husband who was sitting in the TV room immediately started searching the news channels for information. There were unconfirmed reports that Motasem Kadafy had been captured trying to flee Sirte and had been taken to Benghazi. I got up to watch the news, hoping that they would show video or at the very least some pictures - but there was nothing. Finally I went to bed.

In the morning the reports still had not been confirmed. I watched a bit of the news and searched news websites for information but found no new information. Patience, patience, soon enough the truth will be known! 

Libya is awash in misinformation and disinformation. Today, in my blog's email I received an interesting letter from someone in Malaysia who is searching for the truth in some interesting 'facts' that someone had sent him about the 'charitable' former leader of Libya. After having a good laugh I decided to post his letter in it's entirety on my blog and let my readers answer his questions. Please feel free to comment!

Here's the email:

Hi Khadija
I sighted your blog while searching for some facts about Libyan life. Recently I received an email about Col Gaddafi and am wondering if it is at all true? Could you help verify?

Below is the email :-

The international media, influenced by the Americans, has successfully painted Gaddafi as a hard-core dictator, tyrant or whatever you want to call him. However, the media as usual has also failed to show the kind, giving Gaddafi we never heard of. Gaddafi unlike most dictators has managed to show his humane side, the very side we dream of seeing in other dictators. I consider Libyans lucky to a certain extent and one wonders with the new democratic rule they cry for will it improve or worsen life for them. Yes, Gaddafi has spent millions of Libya`s money on personal ventures but is the average Libyan poor? We know others who take a country and destroy it until you feel like there is no hope of restoring this country… looting some prefer to call it. Did Gaddafi loot Libya in any way?

Now let us get to the unknown facts about the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi:

1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.

2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans
given to all its citizens at 0% interest by law.

3. Home considered a human right in Libya – Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi’s father has died while him, his wife and his mother are still living in a tent.

4. All newlyweds in Libya receive $60,000 Dinar (US$50,000) by the government to buy their first apartment so to help start up the family.

5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans are literate. Today the figure is 83%.

6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick-start their farms – all for free.

7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US$2,300/mth accommodation and car allowance.

8. In Libyan, if a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidized 50% of the price.

9. The price of petrol in Libya is $0.14 per liter

10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to $150 billion – now frozen globally.

11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.

12. A portion of Libyan oil sale is, credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.

13. A mother who gave birth to a child receive US$5,000

14. 40 loaves of bread in Libya costs $ 0.15

15. 25% of Libyans have a university degree

16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.

Which other dictator has done so much good for his people?

Well, are these so-called facts true, my friend?

BTW, keep up the gud work with ur blog.

Much regards,
Kuala Lumpur

*** UPDATE ***

Thanks for all the interesting comments about the misinformation that is circulating about Moamar Kadafi's charitable achievements.... NOT

It seems other bloggers in the Libyan blogosphere have also been inundated with requests to explain these most interesting facts. There is an excellent explanation to all of the above mentioned on Ema's blog: Gadaffi Myths Thanks Ema for putting that together! 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Libya - Green Where it Should Be

For the past few weeks we've been having unusually rainy weather for this time of year in Libya. Normally the rains don't begin until mid November. Actually, I've never seen such weather in all the 22 years that I've lived here. Many people say that this weather is a blessing from God to the people of Libya and that finally the evil is being removed from the country. 

Today I went for a walk on the farm and took this panoramic photo. The leaves on the apricot and peach trees haven't begun to change colour yet. The fields are turning green long before they usually do and the wildflowers are beginning to sprout. Everything smells fresh and clean. If this weather keeps up the fields will soon be ablaze with the colours of wildflowers. 

Green - where it should be. - click on the image to see a larger picture

The war in Libya continues..... Please keep Libya in your prayers!

Friday, October 07, 2011

On a quest

The weather was fantastic this morning. My husband and I got up early, packed a picnic breakfast, grabbed our cameras and headed out the door. We were on a quest to track down and photograph Libyan street art to post the Libyan Street Art blog

We weren't sure where we would begin, just following our noses. Along the way we took other pictures too. I thought these of the flags were especially nice. 

The weather was perfect. We stopped along the shore to have our picnic breakfast. By 10:30 the lighting was getting too harsh for good shots, so we headed for home.

The fighting continues in Sirte. Don't stop praying for Libya!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Libyan Street Art

I've set up a photoblog to collect and display images of street art inspired by the February 17th Revolution. Have a look:

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Creative Collaboration

One of the wonderful things that is happening in Libya is that Libyans are finally free to express themselves. This is showing up in many ways, but I'm truly amazed by the graffiti and murals being painted all over the city. Many people are even hiring artists to decorate the outside walls of their homes. Designs range from very simple spray-painted graffiti to elaborate murals that are worthy of museums and galleries. 

I cannot help but to slow down as drive by to admire these works inspired by the revolution and the Libyans' newfound freedom. My husband, children and I often stop to take pictures and we see other people taking pictures too.

Many of the messages are written in English as well as Arabic and sometimes in the Berber language, Tamazight. Red, green, and black, the colours of the new flag are used in abundance. And many pictures feature Kadafy and his son Saif Al-Islam. The range of work and ideas expressed by the people of Libya after 42 years of creative suppression is simply awesome.

I'd like to start a blog or website to post images of these interesting works of art. Is anyone interested in collaborating on this with me?

Still Praying

This morning I found our praying mantis friend still happily roosting in the plumeria. Can you see him? He blends right into the leaves.

Keep praying for Libya!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Evening Prayers in My Garden

We've been taking advantage of the beautiful weather this evening to spend some time in the garden. Sara spotted a lovely praying mantis perched on the frangipani, which is also called plumeria.

Mantis are friends of the garden because they eat pests and other insects, while being harmless to humans. I'm always so happy when we find them in the garden.

Did you know.....

  • The word "mantis" comes from the Greek word meaning prophet.

  • Praying mantis eggs can be sold online and is popular among farmers who purchase them to control pests.

  • One mantis species in Spain, Apteromantis aptera, is actually considered as endangered.

  • The praying mantis is actually more closely related to the cockroach than to grasshoppers!

  • It is believed that the female mantis will eat the male after mating since the protein helps in egg development. 

  • The praying mantis has excellent eyesight and can see up to about 50 feet away.

  • The praying mantis is the only insect that can rotate its alien-like head almost completely around! House flies can tilt their head slightly but not to this degree. This flexibility helps with their hunting.

  • In French culture, the praying mantis can supposedly guide a lost child home.

  • In China, roasted praying mantis eggs were eaten to treat bedwetting!

  • The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. But it is often spelled preying mantis and is googled this way almost as often as the correct spelling.  Preying Mantis is in essence of the character of the insect and correctly describes its predatory nature.

I like to think that the mantis is really praying. And boy, oh boy we need a lot of prayers these days!

The war in Libya continues........ Keep praying for Libya! 

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