Sunday, October 30, 2005

Launching the 2006 Tibra Awards

Hello, friends.

The 2006 Tibra Awards is now open for nominations. Please follow the links below for more information:




Hana Naas

Tibra Foundation
PO Box 2344
Westerville, OH 43086
Mailing list archive:

Friday, October 28, 2005

Down Memory Lane

We're leaving for Libya.

Libya? Where's that? Why can't we go to the States, I asked my dad. I have never heard of a place called Libya. All I knew was I don't want to leave my friends and my school. I was not ready to leave them. But, I was too young to make any decisions for the family.

A few months later, I found my self on a plane heading to Libya. The moment I set foot on Libyan soil, I knew I can't run back to the comfort of my home. It was miles away. I already miss my grandma. The only person I love and care about at that time. I didn't have a close relationship with my parents although all of us live under the same roof. I miss my grandparents and I cried everyweek especially while reading letters from my grandma. My dad got irritated with me but he never once hit me, and I'm thankful for that although I was such a difficult child.

What made it more difficult for the whole family was, we had to live in a hotel for a few weeks as the apartment was still occupied. We lived in a beautiful hotel called the Beach Hotel which was located not far from OCS (Oil Companies School). Don't ask me if it was a 5 star hotel. It wasn't. (I think it's gone now, I found out it has been turned into a shopping complex).

We then moved to the apartment in the middle of the city. I think we lived on the 4th floor. We had a great view of the city and also of the Tripoli port. We didn't have tv, so what do I do for fun? I watch the ships sail in and out of the harbor everyday. I could still see it vividly in my mine till today. I miss living there although the elevator would be out of order most of the time! Thank God we were only on the 4th floor and not the 13th. Pun intended!

Mom and dad took me around the town, by foot, going to the market to buy fish & fresh fruits. I remember dad carrying 2 huge watermelons from the market back to our apartment. Although it was summer, we didn't feel the heat as we were enjoying the walk and the view. At first, we were very cautious of walking around town as were afraid of being spied by the secret police. As you know, Libya has her own "reputation" of being notorious. But, during our 3 1/2 years there, we have never experienced such things. In fact, we enjoyed our time there. Mom and dad would love to visit Libya again.

After a few months, we shifted house again, this time we lived in Hai Andalus, Gargaresh. It easier for dad, as it's closer to the embassy and school. We lived in a villa along the main road to the Friendship village which is owned by the Oil Companies. What I love about Libyan homes is, we have ample space to move around. We can have picnics on the roof top. I had wonderful night picnics with my friends on the roof top and when were start to get bored we throw grape seeds towards cars passing by my house. Those were the days.

When the Americans bombed Tripoli, I was still awake doing my homework. It was about midnight. I was busy studying my social studies and we were learning about civilizations. All of a sudden, I heard a loud noise, I thought it was about to rain, a thunderstorm. In the middle of summer? I didn't know, I was naive.

The next day, I went to school as usual. The gate was locked. Dad usually sends me at Gate B. It was locked. We were curious, I wasn't late, was I? Dad decided to drive to the main gate. We found out school was closed for a few weeks due to the bombings. I was surprised and I told dad what I heard last night. We knew the US & Libya can't seem to see eye to eye. But this? Libya aka Axis to Evil...yeah right...(sarcastic). The Malaysian government wanted all the Malaysian citizens to leave Libya if the situation was critical, dad won't be leaving as he was the 2nd man after the ambassador. He has to make sure that the Malaysian students were safe etc. It's not easy being a diplomat! None of us left eventually but this event has been up here in my mind forever. I don't think I'll ever forget it.

What's sad was that, many innocent people died on that day, a Palestine girl died because her house was hit by the bomb. Her younger sister, Kinda was my junior at OCS. We mourned for her & her family.

In some ways, we were lucky that we moved to Gargaresh because the Americans hit the strategic places in Tripoli & our old apartment was very close by to the intended target. We visited the area a few days after the bombings. We were devastated. The area was badly hit. Mom scolded me for picking flowers at the park. How should I know it was dangerous. I was 9, back then!

So this is what I remember about Libya. An experience I will never forget!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Nalut - my city!

As part of the "TELL US ABOUT YOUR CITY" series, I am writing about Nalut my place of origin in Libya (see map below). First, I would like to give you all a brief overview of berbers in Libya for those who know relatively little about their "jbalia" peers..

About Berbers
Berbers or Amazigh were the original inhabitants of North Africa. There are at least six Berber/Amazigh populations in Libya who currently live in remote areas whether in the mountains (Nafussa) or in desert areas (such at the Tamacheq in the South) where they isolated themselves to avoid waves of Arab migration, escape invaders and keep their culture intact. Compared to our other North African neighbors Algeria and Morocco, Libya has much fewer berbers constituting of less than 5% of the population and with pro-Arab government policies it is unlikely that the berber culture will sustain itself for generations to come.

Berbers and Arabs
By and large, the differences between Arabs and Berbers lay in culture and language. It would be impossible to distinguish between the two based on physical attributes, although berbers are said to be much paler and exotic looking, with colored eyes not being an uncommon trait (I am definately no example of this!). The biggest separator between Arabs and Berbers remains language - Berbers still use the amazigh language among each other although all know the Arab language and culture. The berber dialect is becoming more and more Arabised with many Arab words used (sort of like Tunisians with French), this is probably due to the fact that the Amazigh language has no written form. Culturally, there are differences in rituals and foods but with emergence of Satellite TV it is all becoming increasingly homogenous. As a people Berbers do not have much of an identity, compared to the more unified Arabs who see themselves as one nation. Berbers live more by tribal and familial lines and tend to identify with a clan rather than a common coherent culture. Religiously, all berbers are Muslims; the Arabs brought Islam to Libya, in fact berbers were marginally Christian before.

Nalut: My Hometown
My entire family is from Nalut in Libya, which is part of the Jabal Nafusa (mountains of Nafusa) and that technically qualifies me as an Amazighia! With a population of 170,000, the Nafusa range contains most of Libya's amazigh population. Nalut is a small town on the top of the mountain and is located halfway between Tripoli and Ghadames and marks the end of the Nafusa mountains.

Often, Nalut is visited as a part of a desert tour for tourism. The city is known for its incomparable old town where it is possible to see how people lived up til about a century ago andwhere remanants of an old castle and mosque may be found. The castle or "Kasr" was used in those days for the storage of foods such as grains and olive oils - which serve the basis of many of our foods. Each year as I go to visit the home of my ancestors, I am increasingly impressed with the expansion in building and the continued growth within Nalut. We now even have a "downtown" for shopping named "Lebanon Road" where all items of clothing and for the house are brought up from Tripoli and sold at the quarter of the price. There are also several restaurants in the downtown area! In addition, there are several colleges and schools as well as a large hospital where the staff is predominantly Eastern European (apparently we have quite the Ukrainian population)! Regardless though, as soon as you enter Nalut.. you will undoubtedly be impressed at how well the culture has remained intact and you will be overcome by a mystical feeling that time just went back a few hundred years...

Beautiful pictures of Nalut:
Website for Libyan berbers:

***Please read Ayman's comments for further information on the Amazigh people - he is by far much more knowledgeable on this topic!!!***

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I hope you ar all having a great Ramadan. I think we've all been so busy and could not blog here yet. I'm sure after the Eid things will improve. Still I'm happy that we have this space for ourselves ;)


Tuesday, October 25, 2005


hmm not all at once now...

name: .e!manie.
location: ottawa, cda
originally: trablus

ive never lived in libya. i was 4 months old when we left, and ive never been back. frankly, my desire to go back has, over the years - been diluted. i lived in london, england till i was 8 and london was - hmmm to say the least, a place that has stolen a part of me with it upon leaving. till this very moment it feels like its waiting for me to come back. and a part of me is hoping, wishing and praying that i return to find it just as i left it.

however, what i can say is that growing up, there's been a lil bubble of a libyan community in most of the cities that i grew up in. whether london, or here in otttawa - or the few cities in the u.s. that i have visited. finding that lil niche... the lil home away from home is always a great reminder of where you are from. a smaller reflection of back home. sometimes you wish it would disintegrate and fade away, and then there are times like ramadan iftars, weddings, baby showers, etc... when you really feel proud of your heritage and want to dig up and reveal more of your own roots.

its granted that there are the stereotypical tendencies - the gossip, the interference, the nosiness on behalf of many which is reflected in my bitterness... but at the end of the day, when you walk out of a libyan lamma and your stomach is in knots because of how much you have laughed, or your fingers are numb from the darbooka... or when your voice is almost shot because of the zghareet... and the overall good times... i just wonder, THIS magnified... must be what its like back home... ?

and that is something that i'd like to return to... mere good times. no pain, no bitterness, no hatred amongst/between people... no hypocrisy, no ugliness.... just a sense of community, a sense of belonging and a sense of 'home'... maskan... coming from the root word sakeena - to feel at peace.. and serene.

p.s. just a funny story for you all: a few months ago my mother and i were invited to a libyan baby shower. we went, and brought along my brothers wife who is a canadian-revert. libyan custom holds that when a baby is born.. after about a week, a party is thrown and of course - its not the same without 3aseeda :) (i'll leave the explanation of that dish for another post).... one womans teen-bopper daughter was pretending to be cute and grossed out by the women digging in with their hands, and asked for a spoon. meanwhile, my sister in law who is canadian.. and very new to these concepts - crossed her legs, moved in beside us... watched for about 2 seconds as everyone dug in.. and then reached in to the dish... and started munching. flickr would have appreciated that moment :)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Tell us about your city!!!

What ties most of us on this blog (thanks for the great initiative Hanu!) is either our interest/experience in or our heritage from Libya.. So, I thought it would be interesting to invite each and every one of you to write an exerpt about where in Libya you are from or the places you have visited (for those of you who are not from Libya) and give a little description of history or customs or anything really so that we each get more educated about our lovely jamahiriya and learn a bit more about each other in the process..

Thursday, October 13, 2005

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