Gaddaffi is still in around, but no doubt on his way out. Amazing I think. Who would have thought that only 3 months ago? Christian Bodegren tried last year to cross the Sahara by camel but got stuck in Libya. He went through some really hard times, but fell in love with this part of the world. And he has followed the dramatic changes which are taking place in the Arab World. So, of course, I asked him to write an article about his thoughts. Compared to many a journalists trying to get in, he has been deep into the sands and heart of Libya, their deserts.
Mohamed Bouazizi shakes the Arab World
Who would have thought that a 26 year old fruit and vegetable salesman named Mohamed Bouazizi, would get an entire Arab world to shake? And who could have known that he would be the one that triggered people in Tunisia to rise up in anger against a tyrant who’s dominated their country for 24 years, and chase him out of the country?
I would not have thought it, that day I stood before the court in Tunisia in 2010 on charges of an illegal sale of my dromedaries, with my Sahara expedition fresh in my memory. My female lawyer told me:
“I’m sorry for everything, but it’s probably best that you do not come back to Libya for at least five years.”
I managed to leave the country after my second attempt, sure that I wouldn´t be able to return for a long time. Maybe never. That was also the end of my Saharan dream. Two days later I walked into a church in Sweden where my big brother was getting married, who knows, maybe everything has a purpose. Several months later Ben Ali fled, and the people of Tunisia were raising their hands to the sky, and they could take their first deep breath of freedom. After days, months and years of dictatorship where television, radio, press and regular access to the internet which was completely in the hands of the regime. This has been a revolution like a glass of water under a dripping tap, which slowly fills up and overflows. And that last drop in this case was the young man named Mohamed Bouazizi.
Somehow the Tunisians wrote a manual on how a modern revolution of today can be made and they even exported it to Egypt. In my mind, it is not difficult to understand that the Libyans took the courage after 40 years of oppression and began their revolutionary journey after the Egyptian people succeed. Mubarak was backed by a strong police and security apparatus, which had a very good track of people who actively worked against the regime. And Egypt was also an indispensable ally for the United States in the Arab world. If the Egyptians managed to overthrow Mubarak, I thought it wouldn´t be impossible for the Libyans to overthrow Gaddafi.
I remember my friend Mohammed shouted to me, as he left me on the shores of the Red sea to start my journey with three young camels in October 2009:
“There are as many police officers in Egypt as grains of sand in the Sahara!”
And I spent a major part of my Expedition money on bribing the police. I have had a few thoughts about Kaddafi and Libya:
Muammar Kaddafi has almost written a manual how to succeed as a dictator in a country. A man with a best before date, I hope. He has been in control since 1969 and has made Libya to North Africa’s now most closed, controlled country. Because he sits on the North Africa’s largest oil reserves. Which means the uprising in Libya will push up the oil prices. This is going to make the global recovery of the economy to slow down. And that is going to make the USA and Europe to handle this situation completely different compare to what we have seeing before whit Tunisia and Egypt. Everything is linked, and when it comes to supporting various regimes with export and import, most countries are guilty, and all should take responsibility for that too. As long it iss not making any fuss which can have a effect on the economy we have no reason to interfere. It is all about the money.
Khadafy’s eccentric approach to running the country in his personal day to day mood, have repeatedly destroyed the lives of the people in Libya. I did also became involved in his family’s problems during my time in Libya. It happened during my time in southern Libya, along with my four dromedaries, when I was trying to get the necessary permits so I could cross into southern Algeria, and whilst I was trying to get an extension of my visa. I didn´t get any of them. And it was all due to Mr. Gaddafi’s youngest son, Hannibal and his heavily pregnant wife in 2008, who had an incident when they had poured boiling water on two house maids in the suite at a luxury hotel in Geneva, and got arrested for it. That made the mad Gaddafi call out for jihad against Switzerland. It killed my chances to get needed permits. Isn´t this politics at its best or what?
My journey ended in the same country this great Arab revolution started. Tunisia. This is where I fled. A country where a 26 year old fruit and vegetable salesman named Mohamed Bouazizi was working.
One person can make a difference.
Christian Bodegren is now preparing for a new Expedition.