Rami Selman Ollaik
Born on November 2, 1972 in South Lebanon, Rami Ollaik’s eventful life took a new twist at the age of 14. He was recruited into Hezbollah and served in the Lebanese Civil War. While studying law at the Lebanese University, his passion for bees—a family heritage—led him to major in agriculture at the American University of Beirut, where he underwent a series of enlightening experiences.
Milestone developments made him resolved to rid himself of his fundamentalist past and leave Hezbollah definitively in 1997. That was when Rami truly morphed; from the cocoon of Hezbollah into the light.
After completing his undergraduate studies in law and agricultural engineering and his master studies in agricultural economics, Rami enrolled in the PhD program of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Florida, where he was cut off from the program due to the post 9/11 extreme security measures in the US and a blackmail attempt, resulting in his deportation. However, he was able to finish his studies through distance correspondence but with a further mystery of not being formally granted his PhD degree.
Back in his home country, the dominant scene of grave theo-political divisions and bloodshed pushed Rami to write his acclaimed autobiography, “The Bees Road” (first in Arabic and then in English—where he became agented with Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency in New York, followed by an adaptive French translation published in Paris): an inspiring account of Rami’s life from his childhood in war-torn South Lebanon and his indoctrination into fundamentalist Islam, to his public denouncement of Hezbollah and his pursuit of love and peace.
While he remained largely alienated from the Shiite community, he continued to experience firsthand the depth of Hezbollah’s control of the Lebanese society and beyond. He also dedicated his life for a strong advocacy of a national civil movement, culminating in a first call for a national “White Revolution” on October 10, 2013, sadly fated to forced isolation and blackout.
Ollaik’s follow-up book, “Under the Green Waters” (Arabic), another episode of his autobiographic nonfiction account, narrated the facts of a propaganda-led confrontation, where words carried weight in Hezbollah’s war of ideology. The book traced how the Party of God reacted to his blasphemies and how the Lebanese community had taken it.
Nowhere near the end of his ongoing fight against rigid ideologies, political alienation and harsh media boycott, Rami released his sequel, “Lost in the Barn” (Arabic), of the “Bees Road Trilogy.” In it, a continuation of the story of his struggle was portrayed, with themes of political sabotage extending from a link with the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon, to the actual attempts of assassination of true patriotism after the launch of a national and regional call for change, lately in the works of Lebanon and the region’s civil uprisings.
Ollaik currently resides in Beirut. Despite his busy career as a member of Beirut Bar Association and a professor of beekeeping at AUB, he remains fully dedicated to his cause through his writings and activism.