New York- I have a contribution in this week’s episode of the Real Dictators series by Noiser Podcasts. It explores Captain-cum-Colonel Gaddafi’s early years as becomes deeply influenced by the pan-Arabism that was echoing out of Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad at the time. Gaddafi, from his provincial background in the rural Sirte hinterland, has his imagination set alight by the respective Arab nationalist and Ba’athist ideas being promulgated by Gamal Abdel Nasser and Michel Aflaq at the time that espoused the notion of a supra-national Arab identity that would one day trample over the Sykes-Picot lines drawn in the sands across the world’s then newly independent Arab-majority nation-states.
These burgeoning cross-border social currents led to Libya’s 1 September revolution in 1969 as the Free Officer’s Movement ousted the rather dormant monarchy of King Idriss al-Sanussi. What neither ordinary Libyans, nor I would bet members of the Revolutionary Command Council, knew at the time was that Gaddafi would ending being Africa’s longest running post-colonial ruler–perhaps tied with Gabon’s Omar Bongo depending on when one gauges exactly when in 2011 Gaddafi lost control of the Libyan state-only relinquishing power in his grisly death.