Balochistan And The Berber Revival.

The plight of women and girls in Balochistan goes unreported so this piece from the IRIN is all the more important:

“QUETTA, 29 November 2011 (IRIN) – Gehava Bibi, 9, is very excited. She is visiting the city of Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, with her father to buy some basic school supplies. She has never held a pencil or piece of chalk. “This seems like magic,” she told IRIN as she awkwardly drew a few squiggly lines across a piece of paper offered to her by the shop-owner.

Bibi has never been to school; there is no educational facility in her village in the Bolan district, some 154km southeast of Quetta, and like 90 percent of women in rural Balochistan, according to official figures, she is illiterate.

However, recently, an elderly villager, who had spent many years in the southern port city of Karachi, has returned to Bolan and offered to provide the girls in the village with some basic education.

Fazila Aliani, a social activist, educationist and former member of the Balochistan provincial assembly, recently told the media the reason for the lack of educational facilities was the “insurgency” in the province, “while a lack of necessary funds, absence of a well-defined education policy, lack of girls’ schools, acute shortage of teaching staff, and poverty are other factors which contribute to the backwardness”.

She said that except for Quetta, educational institutions were “non-existent in Baloch-dominated areas of the province”. Aliani also said foreign donors seeking to set up schools in Balochistan struggled to do so because of the lack of security and government resistance.”

Elsewhere in Libya, Berbers are hoping to revive their language and culture after decades of repression under Gaddafi:

“After the Arab conquests in the seventh century and Arabization policies promoted by populist, modern-day Middle Eastern leaders, Berber culture has been slowly driven nearer and nearer to extinction. In Libya, Muammar Qaddafi championed the country’s Arab heritage and even its African roots, but would never acknowledge the country’s original inhabitants, savagely suppressing their language and culture.

Qaddafi banned Libyans from writing or owning books in Tamazight and arrested Amazigh activists — including Buzakhar and his twin brother — to suppress the group and keep them from organizing against his rule. It was little surprise, then, when Amazighs became some of the fiercest fighters in Libya’s revolt against Qaddafi’s rule. Brigades from the Amazigh-heavy Nafusa mountains helped lead the final assault on Tripoli in August.

Now with Qaddafi gone, the Amazigh are taking advantage of their newfound freedom and trying to reclaim their long-suppressed heritage. Cultural organizations, spearheaded by eager young people in the Nafusa mountains and Tripoli, are working hard to spark a cultural revival. Women’s groups, arts societies, and education centers are teaching Tamazight script and trying to preserve Amazigh cultural sites.”

Reflecting On Gaddafi, His Toupee and Last Days

There’s a great deal of coverage of Gaddafi’s death, but not so much on how Libyans view him, Ted Anthony considers those issues:

“Whatever ultimately happens with Gadhafi’s body, the impact of its visibility will endure. Christopher Hitchens, writing in Slate about his objections to the Libyan leader’s end, nevertheless acknowledged the sentiment of many in the Arab world: “At the close of an obscene regime,” he wrote, “it is natural for people to hope for something like an exorcism. It is satisfying to see the cadaver of the monster and be sure that he can’t come back.”

That’s the very definition of “habeas corpus” – “you have the body.” And now, in an age when a device we keep in our pockets can reveal a dictator’s demise, it has never been more relevant. Whether it’s Saddam hanging from a rope, Nicolae Ceausescu dead in his suit and tie, or Gadhafi beaten and confused and then dead and gone, the sight of the body is one of the most powerful political and emotional totems of all.

Gadhafi’s former subjects attested to that in the city of Misrata this weekend. In long lines curling around corners and into the street, they waited to enter a produce locker in a run-down shopping plaza. There, upon that blood-stained mattress, they saw a man they held responsible for years of misery and ruined lives.

They looked down upon his shirtless remains, his toupee gone, his slight pot belly visible, his oft-facelifted visage sagging. They smiled and they ogled and they wept. They were the ones who had the power now. The man who had carefully built himself into a curious myth was rendered unto those he once ruled as something diminished and frail, hurtling toward impermanence and irrelevance.

Great and terrible in life, in death these mythologized despots and masterminds are revealed at last as the much smaller men behind the curtain – shorn of the outsized facades that frightened and mesmerized so many for so long. The stars, in the end, are just like us.”

A cousin of Colonel Gaddafi adds to the story:

“MISURATA, Libya — After 42 years of absolute power in Libya, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi spent his last days hovering between defiance and delusion, surviving on rice and pasta his guards scrounged from the emptied civilian houses he moved between every few days, according to a senior security official captured with him.

Under siege by the former rebels for weeks, Colonel Qaddafi grew impatient with life on the run in the city of Surt, said the official, Mansour Dhao Ibrahim, the leader of the feared People’s Guard, a network of loyalists, volunteers and informants. “He would say: ‘Why is there no electricity? Why is there no water?’ ”

Mr. Dhao, who stayed close to Colonel Qaddafi throughout the siege, said that he and other aides repeatedly counseled the colonel to leave power or the country, but that the colonel and one of his sons, Muatassim, would not even consider the option. “