Seeing Gaddafi’s last moments on TV I felt sad to see a human being in that state. I imagined how he was feeling at that moment. But then I thought: how did his victims feel in his 42 years of brutality? I wondered if he ever, in those last moments, reflected back on his own actions. I hope he did and in a way felt what thousands of victims of his brutal reign felt. For Gaddafi, I felt little remorse; for humanity I was in sorrow: Gaddafi may have died the way he lived but humanity sank low on that day.
Human beings should not be pushed to such extreme limits as to see it prudent to drag a human corpse on the streets. For a moment Libya’s liberators -Gaddafi’s captors- lost all human feelings. It was an explosion of emotions, emotions that had been building over a 42 year reign of brutality. Unfortunately, Gaddafi is not the only African leader to overstay in power, confuse public office for private enterprise, appropriate public resources to purchase superficial international friendships while brutalising his own people.
For interest sake, what would have happened had Gaddafi left power 27 years ago? For a start, he would have been in office for exactly 15 years, long enough for three presidential terms in most Western states! In a fast changing world, beyond 15 years is asking rather too much of anyone to sustain their socioeconomic and political relevance. Turning to Libya, what course would the country have taken? These are hypothetical questions hence cannot be answered with any certainty but Libya and indeed Gaddafi’s circumstances would certainly be different by now; for argument sake, assuming after the (hypothetical) departure of Gaddafi 27 years ago Libya had restricted its presidents to a maximum of two 5 year terms, a third leader would be 40 percent into their second and last term! Gaddafi himself would possibly be a recognised and positively regarded name in Libya’s public life and perhaps a respected as well as influential African within the continent, if not beyond. Surely he would never have spent a single second in a sewer!
Unfortunately, the longer a leader stays in power the further away they drift from the men and women on the street; long stay leaders progressively become insulated, by both their arrogance and ‘trusted’ appointees, from the realities of lives of ordinary people and simple objectivity. This can be seen in Gaddafi’s flirtations with the Arab League, and his delusional idea of a United States of Africa in which he envisioned himself being the leader: he became obsessed with power just like many of his African ‘brother leaders’. Only the Libyans know how much of public funds were wasted pursuing his delusions of grandeur.
I hope with the death of Gaddafi, his sons and the socio-political incapacitation of the remaining ones (Saif Al Islam, in particular) and their collaborators will be the dawn of a friendly and progressive Libyan socioeconomic and political environment. The Libyan people who sacrificed their lives and those of their families and temporarily put their professions on hold to fight a dangerous and arrogant tyrant deserve good governance at the least. There are those African critics who see Gaddafi as a victim of Western nations’ interference on an African state’s domestic matters and blame the West for his death. What sort of internal policy entitles one person and his friends to kill those who dare express their reservations over the way they are governed?
There is no doubting that NATO contributed significantly to the demise of a dictator that ordinary Libyan people wanted out. However, NATO bombs alone would never have won the war. Blaming and/ or crediting the initial ‘peaceful’ uprising and eventual war and outcome on the West is disrespectful of the bravery of the Libyans and it would be just as absurd as it would be condescending to imply that Libyans (victims of Gaddafi’s brutality) needed Western lectures to understand that Gaddafi’s regime was self-serving and intolerant of opposition. Such arguments are typical of state sponsored media critics whose objectivity is now stored in the sewers (final residences of their masters).
I would have loved to say Gaddafi’s death should save as a lesson for African dictators but dictators have a narrow perception of events; they cannot see beyond their self-built cordons of intolerance and repression. When a fellow dictator is ejected those remaining think he was not repressive enough, they build even taller walls of intolerance around themselves, in the process further obscure their view of the world around them until the walls of arrogance and the gates of repression fall flat on them. Gaddafi was an influential political figure but certainly not superhuman. He now will be remembered as simply a historical figure, not a hero that he wanted to be known as by his African superficial political allies some of whom were quick to nationalise Libyan assets in their geopolitical territories as soon as their friend’s grip on power started to slip before him.