A rock band that was outlawed as part of a sweeping ban on Western music under the leadership of the late Muammar Qaddafi has reformed and is now seeking to build up a fan base in the new Libya.
Libyans were prohibited from studying English for several years under Qaddafi's rule, after U.S. planes bombed Tripoli in 1986. This meant any bands that sang English lyrics would be clamped down upon by the authorities.
Rock band Blackforce first came together in the mid-1980s, but were forced to practice their music underground, away from the watchful eye of the government.
The band comprises four friends who are all heavy-metal enthusiasts.
“The band was formed in the mid-1980s. We are a group of friends who have a common interest in music. We came up with the idea of forming this group because we all love this particular style (rock), which was not very popular in Libya,” said lead singer Naser al-Geedi.
Al-Geedi said he had high hopes for the band's ability to captivate a Libyan audience in the future. However, he said the country currently lacked the facilities and funding to develop musical talent.
“There is no music production in Libya due to the lack of its essential factors. One of those factors is finance and the most important one is freedom of expression. There is also no market for it. Of course [former leader Muammar] Qaddafi used to control a lot of issues in the country including the music industry. But we have reformed our band now and we are hopeful about the future,” he said.
With Libya's revolution providing the country with a new-found freedom, band members say their main challenge is no longer the authorities.
“Our challenge is that we have not been practicing music for some time. So we are now trying to prepare ourselves through daily rehearsals so we are well prepared to deliver a decent performance,” said drummer Saleh al-Khuweldi.
Since the ousting and killing of Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has seen an explosion of artistic expression, with the appearance of new publications, art galleries and graffiti.
Music bands such as Blackforce will be hoping the new Libya will also give them an opportunity to prosper.