A Big Fat Libyan Wedding
Well, I finally got my invitation to Aisha Kadafy’s wedding. It was a long time coming. You’re probably wondering what on earth this is all about. Well, here’s the story:
Over the years, every once in a while, I would come across someone that would ask me ‘Do you like The Leader (Moamar Kadafy)?’. Of course in Libya talking about the leader has always been a taboo subject. You didn’t even dare to say his name; usually he was just referred to as ‘The Leader’. Of course, all that’s changed now – you can call him whatever you want, and most times it’s not something nice.
So here I would be, faced with this rather awkward question, wondering if the person doing the asking planned to report whatever I said to internal security. I didn’t want to lie and say I loved the man, or that I even liked him. So I finally decided that when faced with this rather inane question I would reply truthfully ‘No’.
This answer always provoked a look of shock and disbelief. And then I would add ‘I wasn’t invited to his daughter’s wedding. I have always done my best to promote his country and to do whatever I can for Libya and its citizens. The least he could have done was to invite me to the party. And you know in Libya if you aren’t invited to someone’s munasabat (occasions) you can just cross them right off your list. So he’s off my list.’ They would spend about a minute contemplating my explanation and then have to agree with me because I had explained it in such a way as to include their very own social custom. And of course, thinking I was joking they would also laugh (rather nervously).
Would I have gone to the wedding if I had been invited? I’m not sure. I hate Libyan weddings and this would have been a mother of a wedding. But in a weird way it would have been nice to have been asked. After the start of the Libyan uprising a video of Aisha’s wedding was leaked to YouTube (here and here). The wedding had an underwater theme complete with a golden mermaid throne for the bride and groom to sit on while they watched their guests and were entertained by famous Arabic singers. I’m sure it must have cost a fortune, but the overall effect looked really shlafty (Libyan word for redneck).
So where is this story going you are wondering. Keep reading, keep reading….
After the rebel fighters stormed Moamar Kadafy’s compound, Bab Al Azizia, and secured it, people poured in to have a look at all that was there. And there is a whole lot to look at! The place is huge. And while they were having a look people went crazy and started looting the place. They drove in with trucks and hauled off the furniture, carpets, air conditioners, TVs and anything else they wanted (including arms and ammunition). Kadafy’s house was full of the leader’s personal effects; clothes, books, medical records, they even found his personal photo album devoted to his beloved Condoliza Rice. People and journalists started riffling through all the personal documents and secret files and records that were stored there too.
At first, when I watched this free-for-all on television I was appalled. Then my husband said ‘Let them take it all. Let them get this rage out of their systems. Let them see for themselves what’s been kept from them.’ Apparently, the future plan is that they will demolish the site and turn it into a public park. I suppose it would cost a fortune to hire a company to come get rid of this stuff – why pay? Just let the people haul off what they want. Of course files, and other things of that nature need to be preserved and archived. And weapons need to be secured. But the rest of the junk… let them take it.
As we watched the looting on tv my kids wanted to go to Bab Al-Azizia and see for themselves like everyone else, but I said ‘Not yet. Wait until things settle down a bit.’ We took the kids to Martyr’s Square instead and they had a great time joining in the celebrations. And then we just forgot about going to Bab Al-Azizia. We were busy getting on with our lives. So when my son Yusef came in to the kitchen for breakfast a few days ago and said he was going there with his cousin I was surprised. I asked him what he was going to do and he said that they wanted to explore the place and see it for themselves.
So off he went with his cousin on an adventure that lasted the entire day. And he said he still had not seen everything. The compound is huge; by some accounts over 6 square kilometers. He had a great time discovering what was there. He even sat in Kadafy’s jacuzzi . That family must have been obsessed with jacuzzi’s – they had them everywhere!
Despite the fact that it’s been over two weeks the looting continues. Yusef wasn’t interested in plundering the compound, he just wanted to explore. But at one point he looked down at his feet and something caught his attention. A cream coloured envelope, peeking out was a card engraved in gold. He reached down to pick it up and discovered that it was an invitation to Aisha Kadafy’s wedding. Obviously he couldn’t pass that up; he had to bring the invitation home to present to me.
So that is the story of how I got an invitation to Moamar Kadafy’s daughter’s wedding!
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