News / Africa

Teenage Journalist Portrays 'Normal' Libya

Journalist Atem, who wants to keep her identity obscure, writes of Libyan life without Moammar Gadhafi, Benghazi, April 13, 2011
Journalist Atem, who wants to keep her identity obscure, writes of Libyan life without Moammar Gadhafi, Benghazi, April 13, 2011

Atem is 17 years old.  Before the uprising began, she was finishing her last year in high school and acting very much her age.

Teen life

"I just like hanging with my friends. We all go out, like, every Thursday night, every weekend," Atem said. "I like movies.  I like music.  I'm addicted to Facebook. I love the Internet. It was normal."

Her English, learned in school and honed through those movies and music, helped her strike up Internet friendships around the world. And that's when she began to realize how far from normal the perception of her country was.

"When I talk to people, they all think we're just simple people - and they don't know it's normal here," Atem said. "They're like, you say "Libya."  "Oh, Gadhafi" and that's it. And he's like moving around with his tent everywhere and so they think there are tents everywhere here."

Perceived image

Atem, whose deep blue nail polish would seem out of place in a desert encampment, argues that projecting the image of a helpless people was part of leader Moammar Gadhafi's goal.

"He was trying to put that image because he didn't want people to see," Atem said. "He, like, blurred us out.  He's the only thing he wanted people to think of when you say Libya. And it actually worked."

That perceived arrogance drove her to help anyway she could when the rebellion broke out. She began writing for a start-up newspaper, but her youthful enthusiasm, as yet unburdened by repression and its consequences, soon led to frustration with her editors.

"When I got more into it, I found that they were so scared to go into certain issues, they were like "No, don't talk about this or that" so I was like "if we don't speak now, when are we going to speak?" Atem asked.

Weekly journal

So she and some friends decided to go it alone, producing a free-wheeling and outspoken weekly journal. They printed the first issue of the Bereniche Post themselves. It caught the eye of a local development bank, and the budding journalists, ranging in age from 17 to 25, had a backer.

Atem, who wishes to keep her identity somewhat private, is the pen name she adopted for her work.

While she spends most of her days working for a Libya without the specter of Colonel Gadhafi, Atem doesn't let politics and journalism overwhelm her. She finds time for novels - she's a fan of Jane Austen - and movies - she loves the horror movie Saw. And her musical taste is, up to a point, quite broad.

"I like rap. But I also like jazz. I like classical music. I like everything, except for Country. I don't like Country [music]," Atem added, laughing.

She calls herself "your average Libyan girl."

4/18 - corrected spelling of weekly journal

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid