To the rebels, the spoils: Libyans waste no time in finding good homes for Gaddafi's treasures

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

It doesn't take Edward Gibbon to point out the poetic justice swirling around the end of this particular empire. That of Muammar Gaddafi's looting of his nation's oil-rich resources to fund a lifestyle so stratospherically out of the reach of Libya's citizens.

The defining image of the Colonel's ongoing defenestration was the sight of Sky's heroic, intrepid, round-helmeted reporter Alex Crawford interviewing the Libyan rebel known only as "al-Windy" moments after he'd swiped Gaddafi's famous peaked military hat; a big gold chain and a bizarre sceptre from the Colonel's bedroom. Dressed like Flavor Flav at the Oscars, the mighty al-Windy breathlessly thanked the countries that helped Libya before telling Crawford how he'd bagged the swag: "I just went inside his room – Gaddafi's bedroom – and I was really, I was like: 'Oh my God'.

"I am in Gaddafi's room. Oh my God. Then this thing happened. I found this (the hat). Oh my goodness. I am going to give this to my dad as a present because he has suffered a lot from Gaddafi and from Gaddafi followers."

The inter-generational passing of a symbol of repression by al-Windy was definitely a more edifying sight than Britain's own spot of minor looting three week ago, even if a solid gold mace's resale value on eBay massively outguns that of two left-footed Nike Air Max 90 Hyperfuses.

The ceremonial rooting through a deposed (or in mid-deposition) despot is one of the rare feel-good moments in the post- (or mid-) liberation chaos. Images of a man who ruled with an iron fist (or golden fist in the back garden) having his citizens rifle through his smalls provide a minor element of payback for years of oppression, but payback with a disproportionate impact.

In Libya – as in Iraq – the looting of that sacred space, the home, indicates the tipping point in which power has gone – even if, like Gaddafi (at the time of writing at least) the leader is still at large. It's the post-totalitarianism equivalent of kids rifling through the host's mother's knicker draw at a teenage house party. Good luck with disciplining the kids if their entire school year has seen which brand of condoms you prefer.

Most of what the rebels, looters and journalists who made it into Gaddafi's Tripoli compound wasn't surprising, given what we already knew about the man's eccentricities. Of course he had chandeliers so big that they don't find into the back of a medium-sized saloon car. And what a sight to see the three young men struggling to heave them into the boot of their car.

The golf buggies we've seen him use regularly, too, but what most perplexed many of us as the pictures of the rebels leaving the compound emerged, was someone's photo album (third from top right) filled with NOTHING but pictures of the former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice .

The "someone" in question doesn't take too much guessing judging by what Gaddafi said about Condoleezza in an interview with al-Jazeera back in 2007: "I support my darling black African woman. I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders... Leezza, Leezza, Leezza... I love her very much. I admire her and I'm proud of her because she's a black woman of African origin."

The shots (far left and top right) from inside Aisha Gaddafi's house are equally stunning – mainly for the golden mermaid couch with the face of Aisha herself. A gesture of narcissism so hefty that it outweighed the seat itself.

The shot of a rebel relaxing on the mermaid (top right) evokes David E Scherman's famous shot of the Vogue photojournalist Lee Miller helping herself to a bath in the immaculate bathroom of Adolf Hitler's Munich house at the fall of the Third Reich. It's slightly inappropriate, but no less than definitive evidence that the regime is nearing its endpoint.

This is what the end feels like, if not what it looks like. As I write, rebel fighters are bravely skirting down possibly booby-trapped tunnels trying to smoke out Gaddafi.

Nicking his hat and trashing his Club Car golf buggy might seem like laughable gestures in response to the crimes Muammar Gaddafi committed against his people, but in terms of humiliating ends, it doesn't really get any more fitting.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Head Porter / Concierge

£16000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Credit Controller

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks