How do you solve a problem like Libya’s Chief-of-State, Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi? As the world’s third longest-serving leader, Gaddafi has had four decades of free rein to cultivate his sartorial image and his eccentric hobbies. For some time, he was seen as a terrorist-sponsoring rogue, but in recent years he’s been allowed back in from the Sahara Desert wilderness. As a result, his madness has been fully exposed to observers worldwide.
The first case in point is his wardrobe: his outfits can be (generously) described as a fusion between silk robes and 1970’s wallpaper. Standard operating procedure is to combine loud colours, imaginative prints, and matching hats. He also has a weakness for over-sized sunglasses and is thought to set aside critical time each morning to perfect his Phil Spector-esque hairdo.
Beyond his personal style, Gaddafi is partial to note-worthy excesses in his other pursuits. Perhaps most notoriously in his bodyguard army: a collection of forty specially trained female army officers who escort him everywhere. Armed to their teeth, they’re also dressed for success in high heels and a lick of lipstick. It is also claimed that they’re a flock of virgins.
Lastly, I refer to his travel habits. He pitches a Bedouin tent to stay in everywhere he visits – no swanky hotels for this statesman. When he went to New York in September, 2009, he tried to rent a tent space in Central Park. While there, he extended his scheduled twenty-minute speech to the United Nations by an hour, making time to mention that Obama should be president for life; that swine flu is a man-made laboratory product; and to demand that the real identity of the man who shot JFK be revealed. All in a day’s work for Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s arch self-promoter and 'Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.'