By Michel Cousins.
Tripoli, 9 August:
During Ramadan Tripoli comes alive . . .[restrict]at night and stays vibrant into the small hours of the morning. But last night and this morning were like no ordinary Ramadan night. It was Tripoli’s big event. It was a year ago, going by the Islamic calendar, that the city was liberated. Last year, 20 Ramadan fell on 20 August. This year it fell on 8 August and no one was going to allow it to pass unmarked. After the Ramadan night-time Taraweh prayers, the city became one big jamboree with everyone celebrating the anniversary.
There were street parties across town. Outside the High Court on the cornice, people were dancing into the morning; there was free food. It was the same in Dahra, in Hay Al-Andalous and so many other places. Vehicles festooned with Libyan flags, and more than the occasional Amazigh one, and blasting away on their horns, drove up and down the roads.
The biggest party was in Martyrs Square. The festivities got underway with what looked distinctly like the Olympic flame being carried round the square by a procession of young runners in trainers. In fact it was supposed to represent the torch of liberty, as in the New York statue.
The flame holders had run all the way from Araada accompanied by a kilometre-long convoy of cars covered in flags and blaring horns. They passed through a number of residential areas — El-Hani, Nufleen, Fashloom, Dahra and then Martyrs Square. Other people joining them along the route.
Early on, it looked as if there might be fewer revellers than in the square back on 17 February to celebrate the first anniversary of the revolution, although there were certainly many more fireworks being left off.
But the partygoers kept on arriving. After all, this was Tripoli’s own big night out. By 1 a.m., there were thousands of people in the square. Whole families were there, some even with babies in arms.
In one part of the square, minor politicians tried to be serious with speeches about the revolution (the major ones were over at the Rixos conference centre for the handover of power from the NTC to the National Congress). Fara Buasha spoke of the need to disarm the brigades, ensure unity and bring Qaddafi-era officials to justice. A few people politely clapped when he finished but most of the revellers were not interested. They ignored the speechmaking and got on with the serious business of celebrating. They sang, they waved flags, they moved around, they greeted unknown fellow Libyans as if they were well-known neighbors. Near the lake, a large group of people had gathered to take part in the reconciliation vigil .
The excessive humidity did not dampen anyone’s spirits though it certainly dampened their clothes. The sweat was pouring out of people’s brows in the square.
The party was still in full swing when the Libya Herald team left. [/restrict]