jeudi 6 octobre 2011

Habib Bourguiba weeps over the tomb of Hannibal.

In 1968, the Tunisian president Habib Bourguiba (1903-2000) went on a private visit to Istanbul, Turkey. Arriving there, he asked the Turkish authorities to indicate the tomb of Hannibal historically located on the shores of the Hellespont in the Dardanelles.
Very embarrassed, the Turks tried to dissuade him to no avail. They ended up with him in the desert, on a hill where there was a small dilapidated building, the alleged tomb of Hannibal. Overwhelmed by the state of neglect where was the tomb of his hero, the one who called himself "the Jugurtha who managed" burst into tears and began to meditate, sobbing.
"We spent a week in Turkey and every day, all officials, Bourguiba spoke only of his desire to return to Tunisia the remains of Hannibal with him in his plane.
To try to alleviate his disappointment, the Turks made their self-criticism: yes, they had failed in not honoring the story as became the hero of the struggle against Roman imperialism, but they build him a large mausoleum symbolize also the brotherhood between our two countries. Bourguiba had trouble hiding his disappointment. Nevertheless, he brought with him a vial full of sand he had collected himself on the tomb of Hannibal "said his head of security, Tahar Belkhodja.
Son of the Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca was born in 247 B.C., Hannibal Barca was raised to hate the Romans. In 219, he triggers the Second Punic War with the attack of Sagunto. He defeated the Romans at Lake Trasimeno in 217 and 216 in Cannes. Instead of marching on Rome, he prefers to spend the winter at Capua to breathe his troops. The Romans are taking advantage of this respite to attack.           
He was finally defeated at Zama in 202 Scipio Africanus. In 195, threatened to be delivered to the Romans by his political enemies, he fled to Syria to the king Antiochus III.
In 189 B.C., he took refuge in Bithynia (near present-Bursa, Turkey), the king Prusias I.
In 183 B.C. when the Romans get the king Prusias I surrender, he committed suicide (by poison) to Lybissa near Prusa in Bithynia, on the shores of the Marmara Sea.
He was honored by African leaders.
In 200 B.C., Septimius Severus, Roman Emperor of African origin (146 B.C. -211 B.C.) surrounded his burial mounds by a jacket of marble.
Former president of Tunisia, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali has brought back his ashes symbolically and has built a monument to the Punic ports of Carthage twenty-two centuries after his death.
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(Extract from the book by Tahar Belkhodja: Les trois décennies de Bourguiba, (Three decades of Bourguiba), Arcantère, Paris, 1998).

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