Hun: the Ancient City

"Maysoun El-Sanousi Habib"

My parents told us countless stories about their hometown, the ancient city of Hun, where they grew up and encountered life in its most simple and spontaneous form. When we heard about their childhoods, it dawned on us that their lives had been much less complicated, filled with a fair level of freedom. 

Their strong connection to Hun–which is more than 170 years old–made us, their children, equally attached to it. We grew up with the belief that this city held the keys to our Hunnic identity, despite the displacement of its residents and the destruction of its infrastructure under the Italian occupation. The city resided in their hearts, and they carried this love to the camps the occupier set up in cities such as Misrata and Khoms. 

The old city always carries the heritage and identity of a land; that is why my parents would not stop telling us about Hun. When we grew up, we found ourselves consumed with the idea of preserving it. 

 

We often went to the old city to have lunch at my grandfather's home. We loved playing barefoot in its dirt roads, where we learned many local games, such as hopscotch and rope-skipping. As they watched us play, our parents could relive their childhood in some way. Having been raised with a love for Hun, we’re all filled with a sense of responsibility to protect its treasures. 

Hun was known for its beauty, architecture, and well-planned streets compared to neighboring cities. I’m writing about the old city here because I find that these days, children know very little about it; they only visit when fall arrives and the streets come alive for the fall festival. Today's parents have not transferred their passion for Hun to their children; the old city is a ghost town all year round, abandoned by its residents and visitors until the fall. 

I find this reality incredibly threatening to the identity of a city that cherishes its architectural and artistic heritage. Preserving the old city has not been an easy task; during Gaddafi's regime, large parts of Hun were destroyed, for the purpose of road expansions. If it were not for the city's enthusiasts, the place would have become a thing of the past, confined to the tales of our grandparents, with no contemporary witnesses to its beauty. 

 

A prerequisite to preserving our identity is to pass on this love to the younger generations, so they could appreciate its importance and significance. Otherwise, our identities would perish with time, leaving behind memory-loaded photographs–like this one–as the only witnesses to the charm of our old city.

Born in Hun, an independent writer, journalist, and legal consultant.

Maysoun El-Sanousi Habib
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