The Symbolic Weight of a Tent or the End of Gaddafi

Libyan rebels have finally conquered colonel Gaddafi’s stronghold in Tripoli. They have destroyed golden statues of the leader and stolen his bed sheets, golden trays and precious glass ware. They have been waving the new flag over the symbols of Gaddafi’s power, with the famous tents, torn and burned, as highlight. Ah, Gaddafi’s tent! He took it during m,ost of his international travels. To Paris, not long ago, where it was set up as his headquarters with the timid approval of president Sarkozy. He was planning to bring it to Equatorial Guinea’s capital Malabo during the African Union Summit in July. And, of course, he used the tent at home to host statesmen and journalists. I have been sitting in one of the colonel’s tents twice. To my surprise the tent wasn’t standing in the beloved desert, the Bedouin’son’s home as we know, but in the central court of the military barracks in Tripoli. Surrounded by tanks, covered under nets.  The tent was only a few yards away from the airconditioned offices, from clean toilets and banqueting tables. Gaddafi would appear in his silk shirt, green at the start of the interview, but slowly turning darker from his sweat. He would be sitting on cushions, gesticulating, spitting words.  Perspiration would conquer the shirt as an oil spill in the ocean, from under his arm pits towards his chest. He didn’t seem to notice. The man always sweated as if he was using pills or drugs. I remember his panicked eyes, or were they just fanatic? I remember his delight in answering questions he had to be presented in advance and I remember him getting irritated if I chose to try other questions. Irritation was his middle name as far as I am concerned. But back to the tent: burning this power symbol must have been the biggest blow to Gaddafi until today. I can see him watching the television images and grinding his teeth, shouting out of frustration to whoever was near.  The burning tent, the best proof that the end is near for the regime. I doubt if Gaddafi will be caught alive though. It belongs to his theatrical nature to blow himself up in one way or another. Maybe by flying into one of his oil wells? We will know in a few days.

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