I had the privilege of going to the Opening Ceremonies of the All-Africa Games earlier this month. A friend gave me some tickets, and I was able to take some of the guys who live with us at our new house. (The All-Africa Games are a lot like the Olympics, except only African countries are invited)
Because traffic getting to the stadium was horrific, we arrived after the ceremony had started and teams were already coming onto the field. We happened to have seats just a couple of rows back from the field, right next to the tunnel where the players came out.
Each team had someone solemnly carrying a sign with the name of their country in front of them. As I watched, the person carrying the Libyan sign walked where their team should have been. I thought the Libyan team either didn’t make it, or couldn’t make it, but the committee had chosen to let them keep their place as a sign of solidarity.
But just as I finished thinking those thoughts, shooting out the tunnel come the Libyans carrying their new “rebel” flag and dancing and singing and running to the queue. When they reached the queue they realized they were already supposed to be walking onto the field and so they ran, dancing and shouting, to catch up.
I can only describe the moment as pure joy when the stadium realized that Team Libya was there, and that they were carrying and wearing their new flag. I think the whole stadium wanted to run down on the field and dance and sing with these young men who showed just how sweet freedom can be. They just sang over and over: Libya is free! Libya is free! Libya is free!
It was one of those moments I will never forget.