Mohammed Bouazizi or Basboosaas his friends called him was a poor fruit seller who had been working since he was 10 year old. he was only 3 years old when his father passed away and the little he earned was used to keep his mother, uncle and 6 siblings alive. He was used to being harassed by the local police for quite sometime but he would continue working with his handcart where he stashed vegetables and fruits. But this would come to an end December 17, 2010.
The female policeofficer, Faida Hamdi confiscated his handcart the day after he had borrowed money to buy more vegetables. Besides taking away his only income, the police officers had cussed him out in public, beaten him and called his late father bad names.
The shame, frsutration, desperation and humiliation had become too much for the 26 year old boy. He doused himself in petrol and set fire. And with him a whole region burnt down.
His suicide sparked the frustration the Tunisian people had felt for a long time and using Facebook and Al Jazeera, they spread the story about the young fruit seller. The Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine fled the country January 14th after ruling for 23 years. Nobody had anticipated that his suicide would break down the dictators in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and bring unrest to Syira, Jemen and Bahrain.
Mohammed, a simple young boy, work very hard to send his sisters to school and university earning only $5 a day. He was often forced to bribe the authorities more than he could earn to set up his handcart because they wouldn’t give him a permit.
Now, a picture of Bouazizi’s face has been set up to the mosaic tiled monument outside the municipal office where he earned his slap from a female worker when he went to complain about not being able to work as his income had been confiscated.
His friends and family remember him as a young man of simple taste, who had no time to follow football or music, and in time wanted to get married. His ambition was to buy the pickup truck for which he was saving, so he could drive to the market to buy his fruit, instead of having to walk.
His mother remembers how happy he was that morning and that he had never been suicidal, only frustrated over the town officials who would treat him unfair. “He would just sleep a few hours and go early to the market to push his handcart. When he had free time, he would stay with his family at home”, she said.
Outside Sidi Bouzid, where Mohammed used to live and work, about 12 miles along the main highway, there is a dirt road signposted for Sidi Salah. The cemetery is a little way beyond the village among some few trees and a line of ochre hills. Bouazizi’s grave is a grey concrete block with two pretty yellow bowls set in it, filled with water.