Libyan writer and poet Mahbuba Khalifa

Books have shaped personalities and societies for ages. They gave us the chance to grow and expand our horizons in incredible ways. Stories teach us plenty and transform our way of thinking. People read to many great authors from a young age and we have been influenced by the lessons they share with us. Authors leave us quotes to remember and live by. I have always admired writers and how they form thoughts and ideas into sentences.

The way we could laugh, cry, get angry, and just feel through words has been mind-blowing to me personally. In this article, I am sharing with you the story of a Libyan writer and poet called Mrs. Mahbuba Khalifa. I used to read her writings on local pages around Facebook. Recently, I got to attend a clubhouse room where she was one of the speakers. I realized how she could enrich words with comfort, love, kindness, and all the warmth this world has to offer.

Who is Mahbuba Khalifa?

Mahbuba Khalifa, a Libyan philosophy graduate, writer, poet, and an amazing mother of four. She has amazing experiences in life that enriched her writing experience. In middle school, she She started writing back in Darna. She had humble attempts as she liked to call them. Nevertheless, her teachers encouraged her a lot. She wrote poetry and got inspiration from her environment. Many famous poems written by her throughout her life.

Her uncle Mr. Mohamed Al-Makki Hassan, may his soul rest in peace, was a very sophisticated person. He was the librarian of Darna’s public library back in the 1960s. He helped her in choosing books and he inspired her to love the Arabic language. She was inspired by an Egyptian teacher who taught her modern philosophy. On top of her Libyan teachers, Mrs. Mahbuba told me that she had teachers from around the MENA region, she had Lebanese, Egyptian, and Iraqi professors who added more to her educational experience.

She got married in her third year in university. In that time, she began to write her daily diaries. She lived in many countries around the world with her husband Mr. Goma Attaiga. He is a Libyan politician and lawyer. He was was one of the opponents of the former regime in Libya. She got the chance to write for opposition magazines. She used to write under fake names. However, when she came back to Libya; she stopped writing. Her writings were oriented towards the daily life of the Libyan family.

Connecting The Dots & Stories Through Social Media

In 2015, Mrs. Mahbuba finally decided to join the digital landscape. In Malta where she officially started to write on a daily basis and share her work on her personal page. Facebook gave her the chance to connect with a wider audience and to find some of the people she used to study with or who were former neighbours. It was a rekindling time and it shows us the positive influence and it gives us the chance to find answers. She faced many challenges and she stole time as she explained to write and have quality time for writing.

Gradually, she gained back herself to writing in 2015 and she prepared herself for the story she wrote in her recently published book ”كنا و كانوا” – ”We were & They were”. Books greatly influence writers and they help them develop ideas and new styles. Many books and novels influenced Mrs. Mahbuba. For example, she loved to read books by the Egyptian philosopher Zaki Naguib Mahmoud. During the period of her husband’s last and longest arrest; she read heavily and it was part of her healing journey.

Her Greatest Supporters

Her children have great influence in the writing process of her first book. Actually, they encouraged her to write the book. She postponed the process and she feared the beginning. They were very supportive and made all the efforts to make it published. Rima, her daughter, has been with her all the time. She worked on editing every part of the book.

Ghassan, Aida, Aladdin, and her husband were supportive and they gave their opinion in her writing. People, on Facebook, who were part of the story making. They were very supportive and encouraging. They gave her their opinion on a daily basis and that helped her to remember so many details.

The Preparation of Her First Book

Her first book

Mrs. Mahbuba likes to call this book a collective work and that without the role of people’s comments and opinions on social media, she wouldn’t have gotten the chance to finish it quickly with all the details. She did written episodes on Facebook writing about her life in Darna.

She wrote lightly about her uncle Goma and people encouraged her to write more and they had many questions. This book documents stories of her life back in the students’ dormitory until August of 2011 celebrating the fall of Gaddafi’s regime with her daughter Rima in the car around Tripoli.

”I felt that I had a baby and I left it alone”

– Mrs. Mahbuba explaining what she felt when the book was portrayed in Cairo’s International book Fair

Publishing The Book

Writing her book was done in three months with a rate of writing 5 times a week. She told me that her book is one of her children and she truly felt it when it was finally published. The publishing process began in Malta where she finished the first print then she moved to Tunis.

During that time, she went through the editing process with the help of her daughter Rima. Her husband Mr. Goma took care of the publishing process through Dar Arrowad in Libya. The process took one year and a half to finally publish it. The final version had to go through her kids and choosing of the book’s cover. Her son Ghassan suggested the cover which is a picture of Mrs. Mahbuba’s father and her siblings. Mrs. Mahbuba’s sister got emotional when she knew about the book’s cover. The book was portrayed in Cairo’s books Exhibition. She felt overwhelmed, in a good way, and the feeling was beyond what she could put in words to describe it.

Final Words

My interview with Mrs. Mahbuba Khalifa is another milestone for me as a person. Another interview that added so much to me as a person. It was an emotional one for sure! Listening to her narrating her life experiences and thoughts was moving and inspiring. When I asked her about her experiences, she replied in a way I didn’t expect. She said and I quote ”Life experience’s are like home. It is how you move on and the experience doesn’t kill”. However, what I wanted to ask her was what she want to tell herself. She laughed in a very sweet way and paused for a few minutes. Then she said ”I am happy with you, Mahbuba, and amazed by you”. She is currently working on writing two new books that will be published soon.

Finally, her advice to young Libyan women who are passionate about writing is that she hopes that women get the opportunity to have time to write. She is amazed by Libyan female writers and their influence in the writing track in Libya. She mentioned Kawthar Aljahmi who got an award for her book Aidoun. Writing is not an easy journey and it requires time. It is why she hopes they have the time to write. In addition, preparing yourself to write means that you have to read more books. ,Mrs. Mahbuba hopes to write a novel in the near future and I am sure that we will get to read more of her great writing.