When landscape photographer
"It was brilliantly concealed, this powder-keg that was about to explode. It just wasn't evident," remembers Waite, who visited many of the places that would days later become the major flashpoints in the civil war - including the eastern city of Benghazi. "It was just like a western city. Everyone was going about their business perfectly normally."
In fact, Waite's serene shots of
Waite travelled all across
Still, he found plenty to photograph - ruins in Leptis Magna, the desert near the Ubari lakes, and a manmade river in Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown. But what he never found was opposition to the dictator. "Everyone appeared very pro-Gaddafi," says Waite. "They had pictures of him in their 4x4s. I've never seen so many photographs and paintings of one person. Some of them were the size of a house. As you went along the autoroute, they were every 150 metres. There was constant reference to 'my leader', 'my wonderful leader'."
And yet within half a day of Waite's departure - a day that had eerily been specified months in advance by his employers - there was full-scale rebellion against Gaddafi. By the end of the month the rebels controlled several towns, including ones Waite had visited. By September, Gaddafi was dead - shot, beaten and humiliated by a militia in Sirte.
For some, this might have seemed a natural turn of events. It followed a pattern of revolutions that had begun in the countries to
In the end, the book got blocked too. Waite's mysterious employer suddenly pulled out of the project, several months into the civil war. "As you will appreciate," Waite was told by a middle-man, "the country now is in a civil war, and I'm afraid your payment will not be forthcoming, and the book will not be finished."
"And that was it," remembers Waite.
Waite only got one hint of who his secret boss was. It was his second-last day in
Silent Exchange by
On the web
See a gallery of
Previous page: The Ubari lakes in Fazzan,
Right: Mausoleum in
the team of government minders who accompanied Waite on his travels
From far left: A lone traveller in the Ubari desert;
Qasr al Haj, the 12th-century Pilgrim's Castle in Tripolitania; and one of the ubiquitous portraits of Muammar Gaddafi, on a hotel wall
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