Imagine visiting a place that borders the Mediterranean and walking through ancient Roman cities. Italy? Think again. Picture yourself wandering among 12,000 year old rock sculptures as the wind continuously reshapes the desert and then stumbling upon a secret oasis. Where would you be? Libya. Despite the country’s natural beauty and the capital Tripoli’s claim to be the “White Bride of the Mediterranean” and one of North Africa’s prettiest cities, it’s not somewhere most people add to their travel itineraries. Politics and religion play a huge part.
Africa’s fourth largest country, and more than 95% Sunni Muslim, Libya survived countless battles and a devastating Italian rule before gaining independence in 1951. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi arrived in 1969, and has been in power ever since. That’s the Reader’s Digest version anyway. Libya is one of several North African countries since the fall of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine in January and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak last week to begin pro-democracy demonstrations. The main focus of demonstrations thus far has been in Gaddafi’s home of Benghazi. One report I found stated that 84 people have already died in the protests. Hundreds more have been injured.
Yesterday, on our photo walk in Seattle we happened to pass a peaceful demonstration, where I snapped this picture. This particular flag is not actually the official flag of Libya, which is a solid green. The flag wrapped around the young man above is the original one to be flown after gaining independence, but replaced by Gaddafi in 1977.
Since my blog is for photography, it’s a lesser known fact to most of my readers that I’m interested in all things Africa. Although I may not write about it frequently, I do think about it often and will definitely keep following the news on these events.