Friday, November 21, 2014

A Memorial to Ernst Kofod, from THE LIBYAN by Esther Kofod

Ernst Kofod was born on the rocky windswept Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic Sea. Besides contacting a severe case of mumps as a child, he led a happy, carefree life with his parents and his sister Ruth. After finishing high school, Ernst left Bornholm for the capital, where he studied engineering at the University of Copenhagen. Upon graduation, he set sail in steerage class on the "Queen Elizabeth" for America, to seek his many young men from Europe did in those days.

Shortly after arriving and securing a job at Frick Engineering in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, Ernst met and married an American girl working in the same company. Unfortunately, that marriage lasted only a year, after Ernst found her in bed with his best friend. Seeking a change and also to escape the small town of Waynesboro, he asked the company to transfer him overseas.

A few months later, Ernst arrived in Calcutta, India, also known in those days as "the black hole" for it's heartbreaking poverty. On many occasions, Ernst painfully recalled walking around lifeless bodies on the streets, of the unfortunates who had succumbed to hunger or violence. Calcutta was not a pretty place in those days, but as a handsome bachelor, Ernst was very popular, and considered quite a catch among the lively expat social crowd. Almost falliing for an Anglo-English beauty by the name of Cynthia, he is lured instead by the offer of a transfer to Singapore, the Pearl of the Orient.

Ernst immediately falls in love with the vibrancy and cosmopolitan world of colonial Singapore. It was also here where he made his fortune and found the love of his life, Lian. She was the beautiful daughter of a tin mine owner, who was killed by the Japanese during the occupation of Malaysia. After a surreptitious courtship, Ernst and Lian marry, and became the parents of Lina Kofod, the protagonist in THE LIBYAN. 

Ernst's marriage to a Chinese lady and his position as an executive in an American company afforded him and his family a gracious and opulent lifestyle. The social life of the Kofods included the elite of Singapore society, diplomats, international business executives, and even royalty. Ernst travelled extensively throughout Asia, India and Japan, and every year for their vacation, the Kofods went around the world. When their daughter turned fifteen, Ernst insisted on sending her to school in Switzerland. 

Over the years, Ernst became more successful and respected in both the Singaporean as well as the American community. He was an active member of the Rotary Club as well as the only civilian certified to train attack dogs. He was also an avid golfer and a member of several private social clubs, including the Singapore American Club, the Tanglin Club and the Singapore Island Club. He and Lian loved entertaining at their beautiful mansion in Bukit Timah, and were invited to every notable party in town by the elite of Singapore society. Alex loved Singapore, and Singapore loved him back. 

When his only daughter announced that she was marrying a Libyan she met in Washington D.C., Ernst's world was only slightly shaken. He had hoped that Lina was going to return to Singapore after college in America, but he realized that she would be living in Libya instead. He was disappointed, but Lina's happiness came first. He was concerned with how she would be accepted in a Moslem world where women were generally regarded as second class citizens. He begged Lina to visit Libya before she married Kamal, but she explained to him that was not possible. He accepted his daughters decision and her new husband Kamal, the Libyan.

The years passed quickly for Ernst Kofod, and once a year he and Lian would see their daughter and grandchildren, either in Singapore or the United States.  He looked forward to the day when he retired,  so that they could spend more time with Lina and their grandchildren in America. 
That was not to be. 

Yesterday, Alex suffered a massive heart attack as he was playing with his dog in the garden of his home on Camborne Road in Singapore.

RIP Ernst Kofod, 1923-2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

"Fontana De Ghazelle", Tripoli, Libya...


The iconic bronze statue of the girl with the gazelle has been sitting in the fountain in downtown Tripoli for almost 100 years. It was one of the favorite sights in the city, and driving around the fountain was a treat for the eyes and the soul. Glistening in the desert sun, they sat together, the girl and the gazelle, frozen in time and joy. They were a reminder of beauty and history in the midst of Gaddafi's madness. 
Last night, 3 years after the demise of Gaddafi, the madness that has replaced him removed the statue, torn and chipped away at its base. Gone. 
The removal of this statue is a representation of the lawlessness that has been substituted in place of the dictatorship Libyans endured for 42 years under Gaddafi. People have been assassinated and infrastructure destroyed...Hospitals, schools, airports, buildings, even mosques and antiquities have been the target of extremists. 
Libya is slowly slipping into the abyss while the outside world, including the U.S., watches, but does nothing to help...

This is what is left of the "Fontana De Ghazelle"...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


"The level of hospitality and generosity that greeted us at every home we visited was unparalleled to anything I had experienced in the United States, or even Singapore.
We were invited to homes of relatives for lunches and dinners almost every day during our first few weeks, either in Tripoli or Khums. Regardless of their financial circumstances, every house we went to slaughtered a lamb in our honor, served us their best foods and gave Layla and me lovely gifts, often in the form of jewelry..."
Esther Kofod

I don't think I shall ever again experience the phenomenal feeling of being so welcomed as I did in Libya. It is what I have missed most about living in America, but I hope I have retained some of that Libyan in me. Such epic hospitality can only be the result of a kind and generous culture. It is evident in the character and personalities of almost all the Libyans I have known. 

It has always been my dream to return to Libya one day, to visit family and old friends, and meet the descendants of  a man I shall always revere as my hero, my father-in-law. He epitomized to me the meaning of family. He was the force that held us all together, and without him, I fear that the familial thread will one day slowly start to unravel. Just as Libya is unraveling now...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


"In 1977, Ghaddafi deviously arranged for a "literary" festival", inviting prominent and promising artists and writers to attend. After all the participants showed up, he had them arrested and thrown in jail, where they were interrogated and tortured, many for almost ten years."

Esther Kofod

I have often thought of all that talent, holed up in Abu Salim, their creative souls and minds mingling with the squalor and perversions of brutality. Many survived, and some have gone on to produce even better work of art and writings. I would love to read and learn more about them and their stories. How pitiful, that Gaddafi found even talent a threat. Libya would be better today if he had heeded their message and shared the beauty of their art.

When I joined Twitter about a year ago, I knew nothing about how it worked, and definitely had no idea of its potential. Through Twitter, I have literally been connected to the world, and more specifically, back to Libya in a way I would never have thought possible. I have not only made some amazing Twitter friends, but I have also been introduced to some outstanding Libyan artists. I am so moved by their talent that I want to share some of them with you. These are, of course, only a few of them. I would be honored to be introduced to more...

Bashar Shglila, Photographer. "Ride Like The Wind"

Najla Fitouri, Painter. "Lost Everything, Nothing Left But Love"

Ehsan Azzuz, Digital Artist. "Tripoli With Roses"

Nader ElGadi, Photographer. "Eid Prayer At Murad Agha Mosque In Tajoura"

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014


God help Libya...
If the situation continues, this is soon going to be the only way out...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


"The revolution made us proud to be there on the frontline, and men were forced to accept us."
Salwa Bughaighis, Human Rights activist and lawyer.

Today, Libya lost another hero. Salwa Bughaighis was stabbed and shot in her home in Benghazi by several cowardly murderers. Today, a little more of Libya died with her, but her voice will continue to be heard. She was murdered only a few hours after casting her vote in the parliamentary elections. 
This heinous act was committed in the name of evil. My heart cries for Libya. 

Friday, May 30, 2014


Two brave journalists were murdered in Libya this past week...

When a journalist is silenced by assassins, it is a crime against freedom of speech and humanity.  It is deplorable  and cowardly, and a personal violation to anyone who believes in the international rights of journalists to report.
These acts of terror cannot and must not continue in Libya.  Regardless of what and if he has any intentions later, at least one man, Heftar, has the guts now to do something about fighting these murderers.

Moftah Abuzid (Benghazi) 


Naseem Karnafah (Sebha)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

DOSHMA Container Art Gallery on University Road, Tripoli, Libya.

 An incongruous arched structure with a bright orange door, metal roof and a front of unprotected glass stands out among a series of drab concrete buildings on Tripoli’s University Road.

A café and art gallery unlike any other in the city, Doshma staged its inaugural exhibition, ‘The Forgotten Chatter’, in June 2013. Twelve emerging artists, some for the first time, shared paintings, photographs, sculptures and other pieces created during the past few years.

‘It was the first of its kind where contemporary art was shown in Tripoli in a modern setting,’ says Najla’a el-Ageli of Noon Arts, a private foundation that deals with organising exhibitions of Libyan artists in and outside of Libya.

‘We worked closely with the building, where we used the space as the language of the exhibition. We presented the work so it was coordinated into the internal structure. We also created a steel frame on the top floor that camouflaged into the walls so the artwork presented blended in with the whole building.’

Since then, a number of exhibitions have continued to explore the nation’s past, present and future identity while also making artists and their work more visible. 'Originally we were thinking of building another fast food restaurant,’ Doshma co-founder Muftah Abudajaja explains, ‘but then we came up with the idea of building an art café-slash-gallery. That’s when Doshma became a concept.’

‘Before the revolution, the arts were buried,’ says Abudajaja. ‘But during the revolution, a lot of new artists and new ideas came out. So we said, why can’t we gather elements of the revolution in a rough structure – using a reused shipping container and unfinished concrete?’

Breaking from convention in a big way, Abudajaja and his partner at Libya Design pursued a gritty material palette for Doshma’s construction, one that not only epitomises the revolutionary spirit that first inspired the project, but also mirrors their commitment to openness, transparency and collective freedom.

The resulting space is comprised of a distinctive 40 foot reused shipping container that the Libya Design team says was previously used to transport goods during conflict, along with a double height arched aluminium shell and a fully glazed façade.

‘Seeing Doshma from the street already makes a statement,’ says Hadia Gana, whose ceramic installation ‘Zarda’ was displayed during ‘The Forgotten Chatter’ exhibition.

‘Squeezed between two, three or four floors of a building it says “I’m here as I am… and I don’t need to be huge to be important or significant.”’

Unlike many repurposed shipping containers used in adaptive reuse programmes, this one, brought by truck from the edge of Tripoli, forms only a small section of the café and gallery – a tunnel of sorts that is set apart from the otherwise open plan space. Hanging areas and café facilities are tucked inside the monolithic volume, while the roof provides additional floor space at the mezzanine level.

Both the design and the materials tell a story. The metal container, unfinished concrete floors and black steel handrails honour the way found materials were repurposed during the city’s conflicts and lend a ‘back-to-basics’ vibe to the gallery. But the wide-open façade, which is free of any of the security barriers common found on typical residential and retail buildings in the area, sets the tone for a new future.

‘We purposely didn’t put any protection on the outside glass, as if to say to the people on the street, it’s time to not be afraid, to open up to the outside world,’ says Abudajaja.

On a less profound note, all that glass and metal may seem deeply impractical in an arid, subtropical environment, but Libya Design used various passive design techniques to ensure a comfortable interior environment throughout the year. In addition to optimum site orientation that maximises shading and minimises excess solar gain, a chimney system evacuates hot air inside the building, of which only 35 percent has to be cooled. This slashes overall energy consumption and keeps operational costs low.

Although using a fixed volume presented certain design challenges, Abudajaja says he looks forward to using shipping containers in future projects as well. By doing so, Libya Design can shift the materials dialogue away from concrete and mitigate the construction industry’s environmental impact.

‘All of the materials used – except for the steel roof – were sourced locally and reused,’ says Abudajaja, who credits the contractors HudHud for being so patient with a construction paradigm previously unexplored in Libya. ‘Without them, this project would have been impossible,’ he believes.

In addition to using all local materials to avoid having to import them, HudHud spent extra time and money to train local, non-specialised workers to take part in the construction, which contributes to the overarching goal to make Doshma an open, welcome centre that not only serves the community, but also belongs to the community.

Although Abudajaja and his Libya Design partner Walid El-Turki are currently managing the project, this won’t always be the case. ‘The next step is to leave Doshma, to let it become self-sufficient,’ says Abudajaja.

‘That’s part of the concept – to make it like a cultural centre. We want the art events to be free for the community, and of course the food, tea and coffee makes some money, but we are hoping to have new events like concerts that will help to generate more revenue. We can make booklets, sell those to the community, and Doshma will make a small commission from any art that is sold. We are also trying to establish long term relationships with non-profit groups like the British Council or the German Embassy to make them somehow part of this – at least for the beginning.’

Libya Design hopes that partnering NGOs will help with the logistics of running the space, like public relations, so that more people who are involved in the arts will know that it exists. In time, they plan to use roughly 40 percent of any revenue they make to support new artists.

‘It’s like when you plant a tree,’ says Abudajaja. ‘The first few months you have to water it and give it a lot of extra care, but eventually it will grow on its own.’

Article Source:

Monday, May 19, 2014

Who is General Khalifa Heftir?

After being sentenced to death by Gaddafi and 20 years of living as a dissident in the United States, General Heftir felt compelled in 2011 to return to Libya at the beginning of the Libyan Revolution, to help depose Ghaddafi. With his strong military background and support from the rebels, Heftir was successful in taking charge of the military campaign, finally helping the rebels free Libya of Gaddafi's ruthless dictatorship. 

In the past 4 years following the Revolution, the political and socio-economic situation in Libya has gradually declined.
The militias who once fought together for a common cause fragmented, each one wanting to be rewarded in one way or another for their role in the revolution. Added to that, Islamist extremists, who went underground or were imprisoned during the Gaddafi years, emerged in large numbers with alarming violence. Thuggery, kidnappings and assassinations became the norm in the lives for Libyans who had anticipated democracy and freedom after Gaddafi. 

The elected government, or GNC, has been weak, and impotent or unwilling to combat the threats and actions of certain militias and extremists, who are heavily fortified by weapons left over from the revolution. Benghazi, in eastern Libya, has suffered the most from certain groups, in particular the Ansar Al-Sharia. In addition to being the group linked to the assassination of Ambassador Stevens and three American personnel at the Consulate, they have also been involved in many assassinations of Libyans as well as foreigners. 

Once again, the man who had once fought one enemy, has emerged to lead a campaign against the Islamists of his hometown, Benghazi. This is General Kalifa Heftir. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This baby survived a car bombing in Benghazi which killed her father and seriously injured her mother.
There is no God, of any name, that condones such violence. Sadlly, Libyans today live in fear of different groups, due to an almost non-existing central government. Until a strong leader emerges and takes charge, and until the security of its citizens is ensured, the country will continue to be run over by thugs and murderers.
God bless this little girl and other victims like her, and God help Libya...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

PM Ali Zeidan

Libyan Parliament votes out Ali Zeidan after his inability to prevent a North Korean oil tanker
from leaving rebel-help port...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

THE LIBYAN will be going to London...

My agent, my editor, and myself, on three different continents, will be working very hard this week.  The deadline is the 27th, and if all goes as planned, THE LIBYAN will be submitted at The London Book Fair.
When I started writing THE LIBYAN, I had no idea the road I would be going on after the book was finished. For two years I wrote day and night.  I relied on my own experience of having lived in so many different countries and meeting so many fascinating people. I finally decided the best way to introduce the rest of the world to Libya was through the eyes of Lina. Through Lina, we meet Kamal, the Libyan. 
Kamal is the product of many Libyans I met, both here in the U.S. and in Libya.  He is traditional, handsome, loving, generous, well-educated, stubborn...and very complex
I have been humbled and very encouraged by the reviews I have received.  However, I also realized that if I wanted to bring my book to the next level, I needed the help of an agent.  I didn't think I could find one I would like enough to share my book with, or one who believes in my book as much as I do.  Then, completely by chance, I met her, my perfect fit for an agent.  She has educated and prepared me for the world of publishing, and I am so excited to be going on this new journey.
THE LIBYAN will first be sold for English rights, then Foreign, then Arabic, then Film...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ted Nugent, take a good look at yourself...

I find it repulsive, in the most culturally diversified country in the world , that there are people like Ted Nugent. At such moments I feel ashamed and disgust for Americans who think like him. Calling the President of the United States a sub-human mongrel is not only disrespectful and offensive to the Presidency but more, to the ideals of democracy on which this nation is built.  Mongrel refers to the president Obama being of mixed am I, as are my children. I absolutely celebrate my mixed heritage! As for you, Nugent, take a good look at yourself in the mirror. What you should see is a  bigot who should at the very least, shut your mouth. 

Friday, February 14, 2014


To be deeply loved gives you strength,
While to love deeply gives you courage.
- Lao Tze -

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Disney World, Orlando, Florida

Happy 2014

We had a quiet family Christmas, after which we all drove down to Disney World, Orlando, a surprise Christmas present for the children. In turn, we had a lovely surprise ourselves. My nephew, who had flown in from Libya to attend College, decided to meet us in Orlando. It was very well planned and a wonderful treat for us to spend a few days with him.

Magic Kingdom
We spent a full day there, and it was a lot of fun for the children as well as Riad.

New Years Eve, Epcot
After walking all day yesterday, I felt like I had left my feet at the "Pirates of the Caribbean". Poor Riad, he must thought we were crazy, rushing from one ride to another and then standing in line for an hour to get on!
I decided to take it easy this day, going from one country to another, savoring the food of each. We started with lunch at England, and yes, their Fish and Chips were as good as any I've had in London. We then walked to Morocco for mint tea and pastries.
When we walked over to China, we realized that the crowd had grown so much that it was almost impossible to see anything.
The moral of this is: don't go to Epcot on New Year's Eve unles you like being packed in like sardines in a can, or enjoy drinking.  It dawned on us that Epcot is the only attraction in Disney that allows alcohol, therefore plenty adults visiting Disney decided to celebrate New Years Eve there. Since we don't drink, we left Epcot early and disappointed.

I pray that 2014 will bring peace and stability to Libya. So sad that there are people out there who are obstructing what could be such a great opportunity to develop Libya after 42 years of terror and stagnation. Thousands of Libyans died for freedom, yet there are elements out there who are continuing Ghaddafi's legacy. God bless Libya.
One Libya for all Libyans.......