The impact of longtime Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi’s death was felt across the world, even in Columbia. KBIA’s Nick Gass sat down with a couple of longtime Columbia residents from Libya to talk about what the end of Gadhafi’s reign means for their future and that of their home country.
At Mohamed Gumati’s International Café in downtown Columbia, some customers offer their congratulations. Others offer flowers. Gumati, a Libyan, says he has been getting calls from people around the world all day. His friend, Ramzi Mavrakis heard of Gadhafi’s demise following his morning prayers.
“After I performed my prayers, I tried to lay down and rest, and my wife, she started calling my name out loud," Ramzi said. "And she started calling my name out loud, ‘Ramzi! Ramzi! Ramzi!, come and listen to the news—I think Gadhafi got captured.”
Ramzi’s brother, Mohamed Mavrakis says he hasn’t spoken to the media about Gadhafi since the regime rose to power in 1969. He says up until today, he feared that might have jeopardized the safety of his family. Now, he says he’s proud of his people.
“And I send a message to all my friends in this country, that this country is liberated from a dictator who ruled it for 42 years without any fairness to anybody," Mohamed said. " Now it’s time to stand up again for ourselves.”
Ramzi says the protests and civil war in Libya which began in mid-February as part of the greater Arab awakening, was something he did not think would happen as quickly as it has. He says he never gave up his hope for a Libya without Gadhafi as its leader.
“…but to tell you that, you know, this fast [it] will happen, this easy [it] will happen, this…really, it was beyond our imagination and our thinking and beyond our expectations.”
Both brothers plan on visiting Libya soon. Mohamed says he doesn’t know how long it will take for Libya to make itself a democratic society, but he says the Libyan people are ready to establish it as fast as they can.