WORDS THAT CHANGED AFRICA - Part 4 'The Lion Of The Desert' Omar Al-Mukhtar
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.jpg">an animal in chains (click for photo). Over and over the Italians tried to break him promising him freedom outside the country if he publicly asked his followers to quit their resistance.

He refused saying:

“We'll never surrender, we'll win or die,
you've (got) to fight the next generation and the next

and (by that) I'll live more than my hanger”

While this alone is enough to mention him honorably it is his next speech at his final trial that was his ultimate triumph. It is not as long as many that we have featured in our series but it lacks not one iota in essence or spirit. The message is loud and clear "Africa would rather die than be pushed around anymore!". Here is an unfolding from the court in Libya in 1931 and the dialogue between the Italian judge and Omar Mukhtar:

- Did you fight against the Italian state?
Omar: Yes
- Did you encourage people to fight against Italy?
Omar: Yes
- Are you aware of the penalty for what you did?
Omar: Yes
- For how many years did you fight against Italy?
Omar: For 20 years already
- Do you regret what you have done?
Omar: No
- Do you realize that you will be executed?
Omar: Yes
- It's a dismal end for a man like you.
Omar: On the contrary, it is the best way to end my life!

The judge then wanted to acquit him and as said deport him from the country if he would appeal to Mujahideen in a statement to stop the Jihad.

Then Omar Mukhtar said his famous words:

"My forefinger that admits in every prayer that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah cannot write a word of falsehood, we do not surrender, we win or die!

The Judge in stunned silence almost fell out of his seat.

He was hung a few days later but eventually, the Italian occupation would flop and Italy would leave Africa in disgrace.

Omar al-Mukhtar 20 August 1858 - 16 September 1931

You can watch the film Lion of the Desert starring Anthony Quinn by clicking here

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