Saturday, December 7, 2013


"If anyone slew an innocent person it would be as if he slew the whole mankind, and if anyone saved a life it would be as if he saved the life of the whole mankind."
Quran 5:32

A young American teacher in Benghazi was shot dead while he was out jogging on Thursday morning.  He taught chemistry at the International School, and was loved and respected for his devotion to his students, and for his wonderful sense of humor. He left behind a wife and small son.
The cowards who killed him are nothing but street thugs and murderers.  They have committed the most grievous of sins, a haram - the killing of an innocent man.

Ronnie Smith loved Libya. On October 20, 2013, he posted the following on his twitter account:
"There is one thing Libyans are good at: making foreigners feel like family."

You were right Ronnie, because I too had the same feelings when I lived in Libya. Unfortunately, those men that killed you were not Libyans. They are out to destroy Libya.
May God watch over you and your loved ones.
I am so sorry.

Friday, December 6, 2013


There are 2 Libyan dishes that I absolutely hunger for. One is "Korbsa Mafusa", and the other is "Bazeen".
When I lived in Tripoli, we would go every Friday to Sabrata to visit the family, and on special occasions, my mother-in-law made Bazeen.
Over the years, I learned to make the sauce, but I never perfected the dough, which is the crowning glory of Bazeen. Frankly, I don't think I have the strength or the patience. But I LOVE to eat it!
Here is a recipe for Bazeen for those of you who are confident or brave enough to try...Good luck!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tripoli Post Review of THE LIBYAN

Libya, Tripoli and International News and Activities
Sunday, 10 November, 2013, 22:54 ( 20:54 GMT )

The Libyan: A Story of Love in Gaddafi’s Libya

The author, Esther Kofod and the cover of her book, The Libyan

Book Review by Karen Dabrowska

The Libyan by Esther Kofod tells the story of Lina and Kamal who meet while studying in Washington, fall in love, marry and begin their married life in Gaddafi’s Libya.

Lina (who is given the Arab name Mona by her husband) was born in colonial Singapore to a domineering Chinese mother and a Danish-American father. Her childhood was not happy and she was very hurt when her mother callously fired her nanny pawpaw while she was studying in America. Lina was a clever student, an accomplished chess player, and an adventurous woman popular with her classmates.

Kamal was born in the desert in the same year as Gaddafi. His father was taking the family from Khums to Ramadi. It was the turbulent time during WW2 when the British and Germans fought their wars in the colonies and Kamal was born en route as the family made the journey to a safer town.

The novel begins dramatically. Lina’s husband tells her he has to leave Libya as he is about to be arrested by Gaddafi’s henchmen. She will join him later with the children.

The first chapters tell the story of Lina and Kamal’s life before they met. Apart from chapter one Birth in the desert the book is narrated in the first person by Lina. Although the disclaimer says it is a work of fiction it is hard to believe that the author is not drawing heavily on her own rich experiences and eventful life.

Esther Kofod, a Singapore-born lady schooled in Switzerland and the United States, lived for several years in Libya during the dictatorial Gaddafi regime. She is married to an American chiropractor and lives in Florida.

Kofod is a brilliant observer of detail and perceptive in her descriptions of character. When she returns to live in Libya she portrays Kamal’s second brother Ali as “a physically imposing man with soft, kind eyes and a radiant smile. A high ranking general, he wore the green decorated uniform of the Libyan army.

Ali struggled in English to warmly welcome me, then swooped Layla (Lina’s daughter) into his arms and covered her with kisses.”

In Libya her husband’s family welcomes her but soon she understood that “ there was someone far greater than all of us who dominated our lives. His pictures were everywhere, his voice on TV and radio constantly and all our conversations were cantered on him and his actions.

And in all those conversations, something was missing: something we talked around. The missing element was personal freedom, fuelled by the omnipresence of Gaddafi who seemed to have his ears and eyes everywhere.”

Kamal, who was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and head of the European and American Departments as soon as he returned to Libya, once carried a photo of Gaddafi in his wallet.

His job consumed his life and he was seldom at home, determined to build a new Libya. But he soon became disillusioned and told his wife: “Gaddafi has surrounded himself with Libyans he has paid to be afraid of him, and foreigners who will tell him anything he wants to hear for money.”

Lina describes her meeting with Gaddafi: “I couldn’t help but notice how much charisma the man still exuded, despite the evil he embodied. He was a tall, striking man, and like all dictators, possessed that certain quality which charmed people into wanting to believe in them.

“People were taking turns kowtowing, kissing and praising him and in turn he acted as their benevolent leader. It was a bizarre sight, since I am sure at least half of the people in the room would have killed him if they could.

“I told Kamal that I could not bear touching the hand of a man who had killed so many innocent people. We both felt so repulsed by the whole scene that as soon as we had the opportunity we discretely slipped out to avoid being party to the sick narcissism.”

Kamal tried to shield his wife from the horrors of the regime but Gaddafi’s reign of terror was brought into the living rooms of all the citizens: her daughter saw two men hanging on the television live.

Not long after this gruesome spectacle Kamal’s old friend Khweildi the Minister of the Interior passed him a note and placed his finger on his lips indicating the room was bugged: Gaddafi has given orders for your immediate arrest. I cannot help you. You must leave the country at once”

That is exactly what Kamal does. Lina follows him with the children after a harrowing time at the airport. In America Kamal joins a group of elite intellectual dissidents to establish the most powerful of all the opposition parties.

Ironically Lina loses her husband not to Gaddafi’s secret police but to Wafa a wealthy sympathiser of the Libyan opposition who seduces him. He dies of lung cancer in 2010 and does not live to see the liberation of his beloved country. Many of Kamal’s peers are now leaders of the new Libya.

Despite the hardships and the suffering Lina is not a bitter person: she forgives her husband’s betrayal and dreams of the day when she will return to her adopted country: “I pray with Gaddafi gone, Libya will thrive and one day become a model state for the Arab world the way Kamal had envisioned.

“It is my dream to go back to Libya one last time before I die with my children and my friend Michelle. I would like to stand with them at the ancient ruins in Leptis Magna and say a prayer for all those who have gone before me, meet the descendants of my Libyan hero Hussein and savour once again the wonderful dishes a beautiful woman named Kamila once cooked for me on Libyan oil. Most of all I want to breathe the air of freedom in the new Libya.”

Kofod dedicated the book to the men and women of Libya who ended 42 years of terror and betrayal and to the Libyans who did not live to see it happen. Her love of Libya is evident and she has presented a vivid account of its modern history through the eyes of Lina and Kamal.

She has added another version of the spelling of Gaddafi (Ghaddafi) and in her chronology of the history of Libya she speaks of the ‘civil war’ not the revolution. In a very personal interpretation of history she refers to the aftermath of the revolution as ‘Libyan independence October 2011’.

The Facebook page THE LIBYAN received over 300 likes in 1 day, mostly from Libyans, and Kofod’s Twitter account is quite active (@EKofod). Amazon informed her that her ranking in books about Libya (over 1000) went up to 17 within a few hours. There are plans to translate the book into Arabic and distribute it in Libya.

The LIBYAN is available from, and from

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review of THE LIBYAN by Sherif Dhaimish, LibyaTV (English)

Book review – The Libyan by Esther Kofod

| October 16, 2013
Lina was born to a Chinese mother and Danish-American father whilst living in the South-East Asian melting pot, Singapore. The Libyan is a gripping tale of how she travelled west for prestigious education, only to become entangled in Gaddafi’s web of dictatorship.


Growing up in an affluent environment doesn’t exactly promise you happiness. Despite being a material girl, Lina grew up isolated, often feeling neglected from her parents hectic, bourgeois lifestyle. In her teens, she managed to convince her parents to let her attend finishing school in Switzerland, moving onto university in Washington DC.
It was here where Lina first met The Libyan. She came into the spotlight for her impressive chess matches as well as her sweet personality, catching the eye of her lover-to-be, Kamal Ben Ramadan. Dates blossomed into romance, however, their declaration of love was not easily accepted.
Kamal successfully became the first Libyan to achieve a doctorate in International Relations. Optimistic about the newly installed Gaddafi regime and eager to become involved, he convinces Lina to move to Libya and begin what they thought would be a prosperous life.
Despite being halfway between Singapore and the USA, Lina soon felt she was in a different realm whilst living under autocracy. Although she was accepted as a daughter by Kamal’s mother and had a kitsch decor house given as a gift, her husband’s job with the Foreign Ministry created problems causing him to flee immediately and leave Lina and their children behind.
This is an intimate account of how a woman longing to escape Singapore for all it’s lacking finds herself in Libya at time of tyrannical madness. Gaddafi’s rippling effect is central to all those embedded in the story, particularly Kamal who’s heart beat for his country. In the early stages of the regime, we see the drastic change in perception of those who first believed Gaddafi to be prosperous.
The Libyan offers a unique perspective on living under one of the worst dictatorship’s of the 20th century for only a fraction of it’s existence. The book’s intensity is calmed by tales from Lina’s luxuriant upbringing and entertaining anecdotes from her time in Libya amongst other places.
Author Esther Kofod wrote the book as a passionate homage to the Libya she knew whilst living there years ago. As many do, she fell in love with the culture and the people, managing to sweep the political madness to one side. Well travelled with a good sense of humour, Ms Kofod fluently weaves a tale of romance with her own observations of Libya to produce this gripping novel.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Eid al-Adha

THE LIBYAN wishes all my Muslim friends and family in Libya and all over the world a blessed Eid al-Adha.  May peace and freedom prevail in Libya...

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Beauty of Libya........

The Beauty of Libya...........

In writing this book and doing research for it, I found so many beautiful places that I had not seen when I lived in Libya, and many places I didn't even know existed.  It was not easy in those days for a woman from a traditional Libyan family to go around exploring.  Apparently, driving around town shopping was considered quite a lot already. 
In any case, I so regret not having seen more, or knowing more of the country I loved.  Unfortunately, we were all too preoccupied with day to day living under the shadow of a mad man. 
However, driving from city to town, to village and back and forth, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the desert.  Coming from the lushness of Florida, the Libyan desert was surreal and infinite. Beautiful beyond words, yet forboding at the same time. Just like Libya, beautiful, but going through growing pains.
If only the people who united to bring him down could unite once again to build the country up, Libya would not only be beautiful but has the potential to be one of the best countries in the Arab world and Africa.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Why I wrote THE LIBYAN...

Esther Kofod

THE LIBYAN is not about the man, Ghaddafi, who was dictator in Libya for 42 years. It is about Libya and Libyans.  It is about putting a face on the voice and feelings of Libyans who had to learn to survive, or not, living under the shadow of a man who was called by many as half clown and half monster.

When the United States started sending troops into Afghanistan, I realized that they were going to fight and perhaps die in a country most Americans knew nothing about, or even where it was.  Personally, because I had been fortunate to travel extensively, I knew where Afghanistan was, but I had only met one Afghani in my life.  I knew almost nothing about the history, people or culture.  I was determined to know more.  I felt I needed to, as an American, and for our men who were sent there.  Most of their lives would be changed, and many would die there.

I started by reading "The Kite Runner", and "A Thousand Splendid Suns", and began to read and listen to news and events happening there with more understanding. It opened my mind, my eyes and my heart to the plight of the people of Afghanistan, in particular the women.
In  my own humble way, I hope to introduce people to the Libya I knew and love.  Most people associate Libya with two words, Ghaddafi and Benghazi, without knowing much of either.  In THE LIBYAN, I hope to introduce my reader to a composite of Libyans, living everyday lives under extraordinary circumstances. My hope is to put a face on Libya and the Libyans which will make my reader see Libya and feel the heartbeat of the Libyans I knew and loved.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Releasing THE LIBYAN...


August was a busy month filled with different places, family, and lots of love.  Now that September is here, I am looking forward to the release of my book next week, on Thursday, September 12th.  It feels somewhat like watching my toddler go to her first day of school,  or seeing my children bravely leave home to face the world without me to guide them.
In a way, I had been nurturing "THE LIBYAN" since I left Libya.  After returning to the United States, my family and I consistently received death threats for years from Ghaddafi's paid thugs, both Libyans and Americans.  As the years passed and I became more divorced from my Libyan odyssey, I never forgot the wonderful family I left behind and the nightmare of living in country dictated by a man who looked like a clown and behaved like a monster.  He killed his people, raped young girls and plundered the wealth of an oil rich country for himself and his family.
I had always wanted to write "The Libyan", and with encouragement from my friends and family, I finally started writing the day I first saw the protests in Benghazi on CNN.
Now that my journey with "THE LIBYAN" is over, I will release him bravely into the world.  I sincerely hope that in doing so, I will introduce my readers to a fascinating country, and put a face on Libya.
Benghazi is not just about the assassination of Americans at the consulate. It is also about an American ambassador who loved the Libyan culture and its people, for basically the same reasons I did.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Roman Emperor Septimus Severus

Roman Emperor Septimus Severus
Born in Leptis Magna, Libya

"He turned his hometown of Leptis Magna into one of the most beautiful city in the Roman Empire.  Today, the ruins at Leptis Magna is considered one of the finest examples of preserved Roman architecture outside of Italy."

Excerpt from The Libyan 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ghaddafi, the Libyan Terror...

Muammar Ghaddafi, Libyan Dictator 1969-2011

Waiting rather impatiently for my book release.  The latest release date is August 30th.  My publisher said  September 1st., but I told him I didn't think that would be a good idea since that is the anniversary of Ghaddafi's revolution.  On September 1st 1969, he overthrew King Idris in a bloodless revolution.  Libyans joyously anticipated the birth of a dynamic new country, with great hopes for a better Libya.  Instead, for the next 42 years they were ruled by a dictator who turned the richest country in Africa into the most oppressed country in the Arab world.

"The love affair with his revolution died as soon as it became evident that the love Ghaddafi had for himself was more than his love for Libyans.  Discontent was only voiced in whispers and among family and close friends, for fear the wrong person was listening.  Just as his pictures were posted on every street, in every building, so too were spies and secret police."

Excerpt from The Libyan

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Abu Salim...excerpt from THE LIBYAN.

A Novel

I have always wanted to write The Libyan, but in 2011 it became my obsession to complete the journey I began in Libya many years ago.
In Benghazi, February 2011, the seed for the revolution against Ghaddafi was planted.  A group of women demonstrated, demanding answers for the status of their loved ones imprisoned at the Abu Salim Prison in Tripoli.  Their men had been jailed without trial, tortured, and mostly never heard of again.  These were political prisoners, men who were deemed a threat to Ghaddafi's brutal regime, in one way or other, justified or unjustified.  For years, wives, children and parents would make visits to the prison from all over Libya, taking with them food and clothing, hoping for a glimpse of their loved ones.  For many families there was no word of them for years, for some as many as twenty.  They did not know if they were dead, only praying that they were still alive.
From the early days of those demonstrations sprouted the revolution against Ghaddafi, which ended in his capture and death in October 2011.

"In September 2011, a mass grave was unearthed by revolutionary forces outside Abu Salim prison, giving proof to the horrific massacre of Libyans without just cause or trial." 

Excerpt from The Libyan