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Gaddafi’s Zenga Zenga is an emerging video remix series based on a nationally televised address by Libyan president Muammar Qaddafi on the recent protests, typically set to the rap song “Hey Baby” by Pitbull featuring T-Pain. “Zenga Zenga,” which means “alley” in Arabic, became a viral catchphrase after an Israeli journalist uploaded an autotune remix of Gaddafi’s speech featuring the quote over and over again.
In February 2011, following the spark of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans across the country began a series of massive street protests against Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 year autocracy. The demonstrations started on February 15th and towards the end of the month, it was reported that Gaddafi had lost control of most of his country with exception of a few strongholds in the western region.
View Mapping Violence Against Pro-Democracy Protests in Libya in a larger map
On February 23rd, 2011, Gaddafi gave a nationally televised speech calling on his remaining supporters to defend their regime and capital city by standing up against the revolutionary forces.
During his hour-long, passionate, fist-pounding speech, Gaddafi was quoted as saying:
“I will call upon millions from desert to desert. We will march to purge Libya inch by inch, house by house, alley by alley.”
The Libyan leader’s Tuesday speech was broadcast by news agencies across the world on the same day. Among those who watched Gaddafi’s emotional speech was Noy Alooshe, 31 year old Israeli journalist and musician, who saw its potential for autotune and set the footage to “Hey Baby” by hiphop artists Pitbull and T-Pain. Alooshe’s remix, titled “Zenga Zenga” after Gaddafi’s rhetorical lines, was uploaded on February 24th and entered mass circulation via Twitter and Facebook. The clip instantly went viral, gaining over 2.7 million views within the first week.
Inch- (2x) House- (2x)
Shelter- (2x) Back street- (2x)
One- (2x) Go ahead- (2x) Revolution- (2x)
I have millions of people supporting me,
I am asking Sahrawian people to invest, from desert to desert,
they invest, no one stop them, Hurry up- Hurry up-
It’s time to work, it’s time to invest, it’s time to win, no return-
Once Aloosh’s clip began to spread among Arabic-speaking users on Facebook and Twitter, it was soon adopted by the Libyan opposition and revolutionary groups for the pro-revolutionary lyrics ironically sung by none other than Gaddafi himself.
The video’s online reception was also covered by major news organizations and blogs across the Middle East and rest of the world, inspiring others to create their own parodies and photoshopped images of Gaddafi. While Aloosh did not reveal his Israeli nationality in the YouTube video description, it soon became clear after he was interviewed by the Israeli news media:
After some of the Arabic viewers’ complaints about female dancers in the video, Aloosh posted an alternative edition of his original video without the dance segment.
People in Libya dancing to “Zenga Zenga”:
Qaddafi & Shakira Duet version:
Thom Yorke Dancing to “Zenga Zenga”:
Gaddafi Speech Looney Tunes Version:
Read more: United Press International artcile