By Gada Mahfud
Try if you can, to let your imagination wander ten years from now and into the future and see yourself on a hot day in Libya, sitting in the shade of a huge tree with long thick branches filled with luscious wide green leaves protecting you from the scorching heat and allowing you to savour the slight breeze caressing your cheeks.
Now, also imagine yourself sitting under the same tree in a relaxing mood, with young children sitting beside you, sipping some refreshing mint green tea with white almonds floating on top of it as is the custom in Libya…
These children could be your children. They could also be your nephews and nieces, or even your grandchildren attentively listening and absorbing your every word as you narrate to them the story of the February 17 revolution, how and why it happened, and how you planted this tree and nurtured it on the first anniversary of the revolution in memory and to pay respect to its martyrs; and how all Libyans have continued this tradition ever since, and now there are millions of such trees growing across Libya celebrating the lives and sacrifices of our fallen heroes.
That is what I envision the Libyan people doing every year in honour of their heroes: planting trees and sitting in their shade, thinking how these heroes and heroines were ready to pay the ultimate price to set us free and to shelter us from the madness of one of the worst dictators that the world has ever known.
Libyans shall never forget what Gaddafi and a few of his recruited traitors did to his people. They shall never allow it to happen again. But at the same time they are prepared to move on and start rebuilding their country to try and provide the future they always dreamed of but could never give their children under the dictatorial regime.
There must be justice, and it has been served. There will be reconciliation, but the process will not happen overnight, just as all these injustices that are clogging up our lives occurred in a 42-year pan. Yet slowly but surely wrongs will be put right. Meanwhile we have to start the rebuilding. We cannot afford to lose more time. We are already lagging a hundred years if not more behind the most undeveloped of countries.
I believe that launching the plant a tree for every martyr campaign will not only be a fitting tribute to our martyrs and a sign to their families that their son’s and daughter’s sacrifices will never be forgotten.
In a huge country such as Libya trees are scarce, therefore the plant a tree campaign could also not only remind us of our heroes, but also improve the landscape and the quality of air. It could help cool down the heat in the summer months. What is even more interesting the fact that February is just within the tree planting season in Libya, therefore the timing is great for this tribute.
I would like schools to adopt this campaign and plant trees in their school yards and to their surrounding area; I want neighbourhoods to venture out every afternoon and weekend with their wheel borrows, spades and hoses and clean up their parks and the roundabouts and to plant trees, shrubs, form flowerbeds and then dedicate each tree or flowerbed to a fallen hero from their own family or street.
Maybe these heroes’ name can be carved out on a wooden or a stone plaque, to raise awareness and to enable the people to form an emotional link to the space they have planted look after it, and ensure they keep coming back to it.
Everyone can and should participate in this campaign if you are an employee in a firm or in a ministry, get your colleagues involved. Write an announcement on the board beside the water cooler or kettle, send an office memo even, and just get the word out that a group of you want to plant a small garden where you work as mark of respect for our February 17 martyrs.
You can start your own campaign by planting a tree in your own garden and then take it up a notch by planting trees in your street; and then go even further by planting a flower bed outside your work place.
The best plan would be, however, to have one organised, a combined effort between the ministry of agriculture and the town Hall to allocate a large space with the required water supply and embark on a huge planting campaign where anyone and everyone can participate. They can supervise the planting and the care for the project. The end result would be a freedom park equivalent to London’s Hyde or New York’s Central.
Come aboard and plant trees too to officially make February 17 the celebration of martyrs’ lives and sacrifices. It could be a day by planting a tree for every martyr across Libya.
Source The Tripoli Post