Art & LifeSportsAn open letter to Gaddafi


Posted on Friday, 05 March 2010 13:44

An open letter to Gaddafi

By Petina Gappah

In the Know features an interview, opinion or analysis on the events making the news in Africa each week.

Libya’s Ambassador to the United States has tried to calm a rising global outcry over his President Muammar al-Gaddafi’s call for a jihad against Switzerland, saying the Libyan leader intended an economic boycott, not an armed attack. Here, Geneva-based Zimbabwean writer Petina Gappah pens an open letter to Gaddafi.


My very dearest Muammar,


Brotherly Leader! Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya! King of Kings of Africa! Employer of an All-Female Team of Bodyguards! Owner of a 7.5 per cent share in Juventus Football Club! Wearer of Natty Gold-Braided Costumes and Provider of Employment to a Million Nimble-Fingered Seamstresses! Pitcher of Tents in Central Park! Doer of General Wacky Doings!


Brotherly Leader!


I salute you!


Liyban leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. Photo: Elise Colette/JAI understand your anger against Switzerland, Brotherly Leader, I understand your displeasure at the Swiss belief that no one is above the law. I am aware, King of Kings of Africa, that the Swiss last year arrested one of your sons, Hannibal, after he and his wife (allegedly) beat up two of their servants. Now, Hannibal has also (allegedly) beaten up his own wife at hotels in London and Paris. His other hobbies, harmless, no doubt in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, but frowned upon in the more uptight societies in which he has practiced them, are attacking Italian policemen with fire extiguishers and driving the wrong way up the Champs-Elyseé in a very fast car and very drunken state. Harmless, Brotherly Leader, perfectly harmless ... so a policeman could have lost an eye or two, a woman might have lost a limb or two in an accident but that's all to the good, the fewer eyes one has, the less one sees of this sinful and depraved world, and the fewer legs one has, the less likely one is to walk and hop and run into sin.


In the Geneva Incident, as you know, both Hannibal and wife were arrested after they (allegedly) went to work on their servants with their fists and other implements. Now, I accept that you believe that your son and his wife are above the law, because they are related to you, Brotherly Leader, and if you are not above the law, then who is? Swiss law, clearly, and French and British and, for that matter, Italian law, cannot possibly apply to relatives of the Brothely Leader who are extensions of the Brotherly Leader himself. So of course, the Infidel had to pay ... You very correctly cancelled flights between Libya and the Infidel, you suspended trade relations, you withdrew more than five billion dollars from Swiss bank accounts, and you prevented two Swiss businessmen from leaving Libya.


These men paid, they paid, Brotherly Leader, they ended up spending more time in jail for "immigration issues" than the two days your two charming relatives suffered for (allegedly) causing grievious bodily harm to their servants. I grant that there was a slight wrinkle in the plan in that Rachid Hamdani, one of the citizens of the Infidel Switzerland, was actually a Muslim as well as being a dual Tunisian citizen, but as the Guide of the First of September Great Revolution, you know all too well, none better, that every war has its casualties. Besides, half a Swiss is better than none.


I also approve heartily, Brotherly Leader, of your plan to divide Switzerland up into three bits to be handed over to the Germans, the Italians and the French. I disagree, though with your planned distribution: instead of giving the German bit to the Germans, the French bit to the French and the Italian bit to the Italians, to really set the cat among the pigeons, Italy should take over the German bit, France should take over the Italian and Germany the French bit. What larks, then, King of Kings of Africa, what larks! And as for the 35 000 or so Swiss citizens who speak Rumantch, well they are all in the canton of Graubünden and can form their own republic.


That proposal was clearly and directly in proportion to the insult suffered by Libya in the two-day arrest of its two nationals. But I have just this week learned that you have declared a jihad against Switzerland. Now, my Islamic scholarship is a little on the rusty side, so I am not entirely sure that you, Brotherly Leader, can actually declare a jihad. And I seem to recall reading that according to the hadith, when asked what kind of jihad is better, the Prophet Muhammad (Blessings be upon His Name!) replied, "A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler!" I also read somewhere that the Prophet also said "The best mujahid is the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and Majestic." Now, you may of course be against this more personal touchy-feely notion of jihad as a spiritual struggle over one's baser nature, a struggle to be the best person one can be in the eyes of Allah, you may consider it an OprahWinfreyCation of Islam, no doubt you favour the blood and thunder type of jihad to be fought against apostates and high way robbbers and the Swiss.


Now Brotherly Leader, before your proceed further on the details of this jihad, its means of execution, its intensity and duration and so on and the rewards to be offered to the mujahideen, may I ask just one, small, teeny tiny question? This is not to derail you in your plans or anything, but I simply have to know ... being King of Kings of Africa, you will appreciate it, I am sure, you will indeed demand, that I ask you this question in my own language. This, Brotherly Leader is my question. Ndiko kwatasvitsana here uku nhai Brotherly Leader vadikani? Or, to put it very succintly, in the language of the Great Satan: Really, now, Muammar? A jihad? Really?


Yours very sincerely, Petina Gappah


Do please pass my regards to the wives and kids, particularly that dear, rambunctious rascal, Hannibal.


This letter was first published on Petina's website:

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