A Big Thankyou to the magazines publishing the story completed recently in Libya , notably Der Tagesspiegel and A-magasinet (www.aftenposten.no) , hope to publish these tears soon. Here’s the link to full story for those of you interested:
Here are a few thoughts on my motivation.
Out of all the countries in the Arab spring Libya for me seemed the most interesting. There was something inspiring and clean cut about the way the people removed such a brutal dictator whilst introducing democracy and keeping control of the revolution ; side stepping the drift into insurgency ( as has happened in Syria).
In Libya the whole country it seems is behind the process of democracy. After the recent, and highly regrettable, killing of the American ambassador , 30 000 people came on to the streets to remove the militias allied to Islamic extremism deemed responsible. This truly is a popular Revolution.
However, although we have heard much about the Islamic extremists how many people know about this huge popular response to extremism days later.
The nature of the news machine is to report the most dramatic, the most inflammatory stories if you like. My personal response to this is, and has always been to think ‘there has to be a more complex and honest way to report on and understand a situation’.
I reported in my introduction:
“Our perceptions of Libya are constricted by a news industry that focuses on the most dramatic events – the fighting and global strategy. However, it’s only by talking to the individuals intimately involved with the revolution, that we can truly see the big picture and understand the legacy of Muammar Gaddafi.
So driven partly by my fascination with Libya and partly by the urge to tell stories in a less sensational manner I felt compelled to visit Libya.
I was first inspired to work like this in Kosovo and have since been to Afghanistan and Haiti, (www.louisquail.com) working in a similar way.
Of course there are many difficulties still in Libya as it recovers not just from revolution but 42 years of a brutal dictatorship. While I was in Libya there was a gun battle outside my hotel, and the airport hijacked by a disgruntled militia (more of this on my earlier blogs). Shocking as this is, it was in no way indicative of my lasting impression of Libya.
I met some truly amazing people, such as the lawyer, turned soldier, turned lawyer Ghelaio who fought to protect his family and is now fighting for a truly free Libya or the 15 female revolutionaries in Tajoura who risked their, lives fighting for freedom.
When every house hold has a gun, and easy access to grenades its not surprising that trouble happens, but what I was always amazed by was how little trouble there was. This is a country with problems but also of moderation. For the most part the Libyans were friendly, and optimistic that there would be a better life for them and their country men.
I shot on film, taking my time, and interviewed people, sometimes at length. I felt it was also important to document and pay tribute to the ordinary people involved in extraordinary events and to report on their tragedy, courage and stoicism not to mention other unexpected qualities such as moderation and tolerance.
Often for the most part people seemed grateful that they could at last speak openly, and people were always friendly.
My one regret was I didn’t get to see the fabulous Roman city outside Tripoli. I’m betting if I return to Libya in a few years or so it will be along with thousands of tourists enjoying a peaceful country with an amazing history.
The wars end anniversary is on the 23/10/12, it seems a fitting time to show this work and remember the courage and loss of the Libyan people.