Here is a short list of Sunday’s happenings in North Africa.
The son of Libya’s president Muammar al-Gaddafi gave a speech to the nation in which he threatened the citizens of his own country with civil war, colonization and a government imposed infrastructure failure should Libyans refuse to accept the course the government chooses.
Despite internet and cell phone connection outages, news is coming through of army and sniper attacks on protesters and a massacre in el-Bayda by both Libya’s army and government hired mercenaries.
Protesters came out across the country: Rabat, Casabalana, Merrakash, al- Houseima and Tetuan.
Despite the success in maintaining a day of peaceful protests, under the cover of night pro-government groups and police began attacking protesters. Watch the video here.
There is news, excitement, fear and hope flooding into my life about the possibilities for the Arab world and humanity within these countries. Having experienced the corruption first hand in Morocco, I am emotional about the change, of course. But I also must admit that my sentiments can be nowhere near as tumultuous as Ismail’s. Yes, I am American and proud to be but in the scheme of things, that means little. Our history is relatively short. Americans have no single ethnic background. Our traditions are multitudinous which in the ends amounts to diluted. I can respect that my neighbor is from Korea and we can celebrate being American together and the diversity that affords. But there is something necessarily shallow in that common identity.
In Morocco I could smell the aromas of dinner coming from my neighbor’s kitchen and know what she was cooking because it was part of the repertoire of rich Moroccan traditional cuisine. To be fluent in Moroccan I had to know these dishes. The traditional music playing for a car window is the same tune Ismail’s grandma sang to him. There is, of course, new trendy music that teenagers bebop to but there are instruments and sounds unique to Moroccan history and identity. And, also, there is the ever unifying religion. While some are more devout than others, there is an unspoken connection between even the most remote strangers. You may not understand anything else about a person but you can relate to their religion if not as a belief, as tradition.
Another piece of this historic puzzle I cannot relate to: being oppressed. I have never been scared to say what I think or denied access to information.
All of this is pouring in on the radio and facebook and Ismail is radiating with news blurbs and energy. We sit next to each other in our study chairs. I’m trying to immerse myself in rhetoric studies and I find myself at strange intersections. I spend much of my time enjoying the beauties of life – good food, dainty tea cups, splendid conversations, literature. I think ahead to the future and how this beauty will be woven in to myself. And in the same moment I am confronted with the injustice and insult being protested across northern Africa and the Middle East. How much better it would be to listen to the news reports, think critically about the issues and return to my rhetorical theory and spinach soufflé. Never have I been confronted with an issue that is so current and so proximal that it seems to trivialize everything else I do. Yet there is little I can do short of going back to Morocco to join the protests. So I have returned to blogging in hopes of contributing to the virtual opposition.
Morocco’s King Mohammed IV is a fine figure head but his ownership of the Moroccan economy and nepotistic habits are reproachable and scandalous. On the other hand, Liberian president Muammar al-Gaddafi is unfit to lead a people. Anyone who posits an army against its own people is not a leader but a despot and should be recognized as such by the international community.