5:00pm

Thu April 14, 2011
The Two-Way

Gadhafi Spokesman Belts Out His Version Of 'Zenga Zenga'

We were wondering if the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli, where journalists and their government minders are trapped together, could get any weirder.

Well it can.

We returned today from a government-organized trip to see purported damage from NATO air strikes. When we got to the hotel, we came upon a musical troupe in the lobby. They were fiddling and singing a pro-Moammar Gadhafi version of the Zenga Zenga song.

Now, while their version was based on one of Gadhafi's now famous, and famously defiant, February speeches, the Zenga Zenga that's been watched by millions around the world and inspired many copies was started by Israeli musician Noy Alooshe — and it's decidedly not pro-Gadhafi.

There's a helpful history of the Zenga Zenga "meme" here. You can see Alooshe's original version here. For English-speakers, here's a subtitled version.

But the most surreal thing about today's scene? The chorus was being lead by none other than Moussa Ibrahim, the Gadhafi regime's spokesmen. It looked like a sketch out of Monty Python. All we needed were dancing girls.

We caught some of the sound, though we were too late to get Ibrahim's Zenga Zenga on tape.

After a couple more rousing numbers, Ibrahim switched modes, glibly giving flabbergasted journalists a soundbite on alleged civilian casualties.

Ibrahim's boss, Gadhafi, was also out and about today. He stood and waved through the sunroof of an SUV as he was driven — quickly — through the streets of Tripoli.

(NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro and producer Jonathan Blakley, who got the audio, are covering events in Tripoli.) Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.