Omar Mukhtar: Poem of a Libyan Resistance Leader (1931)

My only illness is being at al Agailla camp, the imprisonment of my tribe and the long way from home…

My only illness is the loss of my beloved, good-looking strong people on top of camels and best-looking horses…

My only illness is having to lose my dignity at my advanced age and the loss of our finest people, the ones we cannot do without…

My only illness is the torturing of our young women, with their bodies exposed…

My only illness is the loss of sweet and good people and having to be ruled by grotesque people whose straight faces show nothing but misery…

My only illness is the broken hearts, the falling tears and all the herds with no protector of caretaker…

This is an excerpt of a Libyan poem by the Bedouin poet and resistance leader, Omar Mukhtar who was born in 1862 in a small village called Janzur on the eastern part of Barqa. Mukhtar who throughout his life remained religious and very poor, would turn to fighting in the desert against the Fascist Italian Army.

Mukhtar who understood the strategies and geography of desert warfare well, led his people in small groups to successfully usurp many of the Italian army personnel in the fight against battleships and Italian colonization. The army was terribly embarrassed at the time that one of their biggest foes, had turned out to be someone thought completely insignificant in the role of conqueror, as no one expected much of a Bedouin, one of the famous of Arab nomadic tribes.

It was the early part of the 20th century when Italy occupied Libya. It was only when Tripoli, its capital city, was finally bombed for three days in a row, that Mukhtar who had held his enemies off for 20 years and feeling defeated and exhausted, was finally arrested by the Italian army who in turn, was said to have treated the rebellious resistance leader as a prize catch.

On September 16, 1931, on the orders of the Italian court and with Italian hopes that Libyan resistance would die with him, Mukhtar is hanged before his followers in the concentration camp of Solluqon at the age of 73 years.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Samira Khoury on March 28, 2011 at 6:23 am

    I am on the depressive side this morning… We all want revolution, …but… it seems by Proxy… Do we really know our history?..We “hanged” Omar Mukhtar again, on the new flag…do we honour him with Nato bombs????!!!!!


  2. Good questions, Samira…


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