The past year has been the most tumultuous in Benghazi history. From an obscure city on the Mediterranean it was pitchforked to the centre of world attention as the cradle of the Libyan revolution.Today as that effort comes to fruition with the appointment of Libya’s democratically elected prime minister it has once again hit the world headlines for the unfortunate terrorist killing of the American ambassador to Libya .
Late November last year just as the dust of the revolution was settling down I along with a friend went for a walk around the by lanes of this now famous city.This blog post is a trip down those memory lanes.
Sauntering around downtown Benghazi I could not help noticing the crowds in front of the banks.Cash was still tight as the new interim government struggled to normalise the situation.The streets were still littered with rubbish as the cleaning crews which fled were yet to make a return .As usual the cafes and the cigarette stalls were as usual doing brisk business.There was an air of optimism that tomorrow would be better.
Walking along the narrow streets of the Italian quarter I could see businesses were largely idle with people not having enough cash.The Italian quarter has a nice colonial feel to it and is pleasant to walk around .Later we moved to the waterfront near the courthouse, the site of the epic happenings last year.Now, after the storm things were quiet.The courthouse was covered with graffiti along with pictures of the dead and missing during the conflict.
A little ahead from the courthouse was a unique war memorial. Art and expression in any form was discouraged in the old Libya.Freedom brought forth a urge to express oneself this was done in many forms – graffiti,newspapers,television channels, radio stations to name just a few. So this was’ war art’. War equipment creatively welded and rearranged to form various intriguing forms.We had a pleasant hour lounging about this one of a kind museum.Soon I would be leaving this city of friendly people to go and work in another part of the country.I sure would be carrying some compelling memories of this city. Today Benghazi is back in the spotlight. A pity it’s for all the wrong reasons.