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

Video VOA ‘Town Hall’ Shines Light on Ebola Crisis

Experts call for greater speed in identification and treatment of deadly disease More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Funding Program Helps Extremely Poor in Ghana

Broad objective for Ghana's social cash transfer program is to lessen the impact of poverty on the most vulnerable people, elderly, orphans, those with disabilities 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.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid