Sarah Abdurrahman is a producer for On the Media
Witnessing a Free Libya
Friday, August 26, 2011 - 03:54 PM
Yesterday, as I was sitting at my desk in the WNYC offices, I experienced a moment I never thought I would in my lifetime. The events taking place in Libya right now are historic, but for my family they are life changing.
Thursday is our busiest day here at OTM, and as I was scrambling to finish my segments for this week’s show, I kept one eye on the developments in Libya. All week, I’ve had one of my computer monitors dedicated to work, and the other streaming 3 or 4 satellite news channels at a time. As a Libyan, it has been hard to tear myself away from the news for even a minute. Then on one of the screens, I saw my father. He was speaking at the first press conference of the National Transitional Council in the newly freed capitol of Tripoli. The NTC moving to Tripoli was significant, but I was distracted by something more personal. There was my father. In Tripoli. In Libya. For the first time in thirty years.
Since before I was born, my father was unable to return to his country of birth. Like many other Libyans in the diaspora, he would face severe consequences for speaking out against the Gaddafi regime if he ever went home. In February, I was a guest on OTM, and spoke about my generation of Libyans living abroad, children of dissidents, continuing a legacy of opposition begun by our parents. Admittedly, I got a bit emotional, because I think for the first time I realized how difficult it must have been for our parents to work so hard and sacrifice so much and still not achieve their goal of ousting Gaddafi. This latest uprising lasted six months, but for many of us, it was decades in the making.
Now, seeing the end of the Gaddafi regime brings on a range of emotions. Jubilation for the people in Libya, who are tasting freedom for the first time in 42 years. Excitement for all the people outside the country who are now able to return. Heartache for the families that have lost loved ones throughout the past few months and through all the years of Gaddafi’s relentless cruelty. Sadness for those that didn’t survive to see this moment. Pride for the brave men and women who stood up and said Enough! Admiration for all the talent that came together during this uprising to create new media, organize humanitarian aid, set up communication networks, etc., etc., etc.
Appreciation for the world’s media, many of whom lost their lives trying to ensure the world witnessed the uprising. Optimism for those living under other stubborn regimes in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere. Respect for those that never gave up on the struggle and never succumbed to Gaddafi’s way of doing things.
And immeasurable gratitude for the thousands that bravely gave up their own lives so that their fellow man might have a better one.
Seeing my father speaking from Tripoli yesterday was unimaginable to me a year ago. And if this was on the radio, instead of a blog post, you would probably hear me crying again. But this time, its no longer out of sadness for the past. It is out of hope for the future.