Gadaffi and Mandela: Real Friends?

We featured BBC reporter Rana Jawad on the program today. She’s a young
Lebanese-British woman, married a Libyan, and ended up in Tripoli in
2004. She stayed through the uprising in 2011, was the only western
journalist to be in Libya for the duration of the war, and filed for BBC
online as the conflict raged. Rana has just published “Tripoli Witness:
The Remarkable First Hand Account of Life Through the Insurgency”. It’s
a compelling mix of user-friendly background on Muammar Gadaffi and his
ruthless and sometimes irrational leadership of the country, and Rana’s
own perceptiveness as an outside observer of the madness that led the
revolutionaries in Benghazi to say ‘enough is enough.’

In one part of her book, Rana Jawad discusses Gadaffi’s visits to
summits in various African capitals where he’d dote on his fellow
heads-of-state with suitcases of cash. Partly for goodwill, partly out
of a sense that he was the father-figure for all of Africa, Gadaffi won
a lot of loyalty with those payouts, while back home, Libyans wondered
in quiet anger why more of that cash didn’t come their way. Oddly
though, some notable and sensible leaders seemed to come under Gadaffi’s
sway. None other than Nelson Mandela for example. And after all, what
did a man who spent decades in prison for his beliefs have to gain by
saying nice things about Gadaffi? I asked Rana how she reconciled that.


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