The day after the revolution Benghazi was in a daze.There was no government but to the Libyans’s credit there was no anarchy.The city elders quickly got into the act.After congratulating the youth for freeing the city various committees were formed to looks after various aspects of the civic administration.Banks opened and everybody was given a lumpsum amount of 200 dinars as relief. A few shops and coffee shops opened. Schools and colleges however remained closed .Emergency services in hospitals including our college reopened.
The party however continued.All day long past my window youth racing about in their cars honking ,yelling,and firing in the air.In many ways this was a ‘carrevolution’ seeing how prominent the role of automobiles in the Libyan way of life.Many of the protest marches consisted of car convoys and car honking substituted chanting.We joked that we had heard more honking in the post revolution days than in the whole year before. The corniche became a permanent hub for meetings and celebrations.I took a walk there a few days later. Before the revolution I used to avoid taking pictures of the huge Gadaffi posters around town in case I was arrested.So I thought that now that he had gone here was a good opportunity to click some photographs.Poor me! Not one picture or billboard had been left untouched.All were torn down and believe me that takes some doing as he was omnipresent.
The corniche by the Mediterranean had become a 24/7 party zone .The pre Gaddafi Libyan tricolour replaced the green flag of Gaddafi and was fluttering everywhere .At the courthouse were rows upon rows of pictures of people killed or missing during Gaddafi’s reign.People,talking,smiling,praying,singing,photographing,dancing.kids directing the traffic. Old men wandering around with bemused looks.Perhaps they thought they would never see this day and were filled with admiration of the” facebook generation”.I too posed happily in front of a Gaddafi tank with flags in both the hands.Youngsters took turns in having their pictures clicked while kicking Gaddafi’s cartoon .Graffiti artists had a field day covering the whole city with their art.Gaddafi with his various eccentricities is indeed a cartoonist’s delight.
Another place which became a major attraction for Libyans was the much feared katiba (military garrison).I spent a morning walking around the huge compound. Cars filled with families poured into the huge place which was off limits for them earlier.Bulldozers were still to be seen where people had used them to break the compound walls.The entrance had been blown up in a suicide blast by a martyred oil engineer. Most of the buildings had been burnt .Dozens and dozens of burnt cars littered the outside.Nothing much had escaped the people’s fury.As one playstation inspired graffiti on the katiba wall put it was indeed ‘game over’ Gaddafi .