Nigerian Circus Ape
The following post is cross-posted from my main Southeast Asia blog over at FriskoDude
I've read a few early reports from Americans on their organized tours to Tripoli and beyond, but none of it really rang true. Just accolades about spectacular desert scenery and visits to deserted Roman cities. Not much truth in any of those Slate stories, but fortunately the Los Angeles Weekly has posted a jarring account of the situation in the land of Khaddafi.
Most apartment buildings were more or less equally dreary, but one did stand out. Architecturally it was just another modernist horror. But a 6-by-8-foot portrait of Qaddafi was bolted to the facade three stories up. It partially blocked the view from two of the balconies. The bastard couldn't even leave people alone when they were home.
The posters weren't funny anymore. There were too damn many of them, for one thing. And, besides, Qaddafi is ugly. He may earn a few charisma points for traveling to Brussels and pitching his Bedouin tent on the Parliament lawn, but he's no Che Guevara in the guapo department.
I felt ashamed that I first found his portraits even slightly amusing. The novelty wore off in less than a day, and he's been in power longer than I've been alive.
He was an abstraction when I first got there. But after walking around his outdoor laboratory and everywhere seeing his beady eyes and that arrogant jut of his mouth, it suddenly hit me. He isn't merely Libya's tyrant. He is a man who would be god.
His Mukhabarat, the secret police, are omniscient. His visage is omnipresent. His power is omnipotent.
And he is deranged. He says he's the sun of Africa. He threatens to ban money and schools. He vanquished beauty and art. He liquidates those who oppose him. He says he can't help it if the people of Libya love him so much they plaster his portrait up everywhere. Fuck him. I wanted to rip his face from the walls.
LA Weekly Link