Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, the Man I Knew [Archives:2001/24/Reportage]

June 11 2001

Yahya Abdulraqib Al-Jubaihi
Two years has elapsed since the departure of Dr Abdulaziz Bin Yassin Al-Saqqaf who was the voice of the nation’s conscience and whom the Yemeni press has missed. Though his numerous and multilateral activities were during his life not very apparent his absence made us realize the great loss inflicted on Yemen upon his departure. His death has shown the loss of a multi-talented man, who was actually a nation personified in a man. He was not merely a journalist, a first grade university professor, a minister for information and culture and an ambassador representing worries and grievances of the Yemenis. He was not one of these commendable characters, but rather all of them. In their essence all of the commendable characteristics were part of him.
Journalists have missed him as well as his courage in publishing facts even if they would lead to dire consequences, and that what actually happened. He was known of his special capability of obtaining the most important news supported by evidence and figures published in his newspaper, the Yemen Times. Even those people working at positions within the circle of decision-making would get surprised at his ability of getting such news and information, whereas it was difficult, if not impossible, for themselves to obtain. One of those is myself.
He made the “Yemen Times” newspaper in an unbelievable short period a live embodiment of Yemen and Yemenis.
Dr. Al-Saqqaf has been missed by them because he gave them publicity and reputation and was their live example and image. The politicians have lost and missed him because he was the most prominent, sincere and clearest voice in public and private debates, media and intellectual meetings and direct and indirect interpositions and also at the Consultative Council which gained reputation through Al-Saqqaf, not the vice versa.
He is also missed by the students and those seeking science and knowledge. For he was well-conversant with his subjects, hanging on to his academic profession and was persevering at attending his lectures. If it happened that he could not attend a lecture he was so keen to hang a note apology to his students promising to make for it as soon as possible.
Dr. Al-Saqqaf is also missed by the poor and the wretched. For them he was a refuge for seeking their rights. He used to share the people their delights and sorrows and would feel for voices of the agonized and be saddened for the tears of those complaining against injustice. He made his membership of the Consultative Council a means for advocating freedoms, wringing out the rights and rehabilitating man by unchaining him, satisfying his hunger and providing the simplest necessities of life for him.
He is also missed by those who claim of charity work and those running the so-called Charitable Societies. In this respect he was the most outstanding in word and deed, behavior and performance. He invested his private and public relations for developing such societies through building scientific and technical institutions.
As late Dr. Al-Saqqaf was so faithful and confident of himself, he did not pay attention to what was said about him. This is because what he had achieved on the ground would always be the dumfounding reply to what was being said. It was also because of the fact that, charitable societies were for him a means to serve the public, not a materialistic gain as is the case with some runners of such societies. Prestige of Al-Saqqaf was perceived more and more after his death.
Ambassadors and members of Arab and foreign diplomatic missions accredited to Sana’a have missed him. They missed his dialogues and meetings with them in which he always represented the conscience of Yemen and its people. He discussed conditions of the homeland without bias or prejudice. His aim was to clarify the vision without overbidding, to display the positive aspects, however small they were and the negative things however gross they were. His excellent language and competence in dialogue and persuasion helped him much in this regard.
The officials of the country have also missed him because they realized clearly the real character of him and sincerity of his aims, quite contrary of what they used to think about him.
I may presume to affirm that all, without exception, have missed Dr Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf. What increased the volume of the tragedy and enormity of his loss is the non-emergence of the alternative.
Foreign languages could be mastered by many, and knowledge is not confined to one person. But love of work, glorifying of time and keenness on finishing it in addition to the many talents and full perception of the general conditions and capability of attaining higher positions with the aim of getting acquainted with facts are all factors distinguishing Al-Saqqaf from others.
This is Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf as I knew him. I do not think I have mentioned anything new. Two years has passed since his departure and physical but not spiritual absence. His spirit will remain with his offspring, the many people who loved him and with the Yemen Times that, though by his absence has lost some of its characteristics and glitter. The continuation of the newspaper, given the circumstances and situations experienced by the closest relatives of Al-Saqqaf, represents a success not to be sneezed at.
May God have mercy upon Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf who was really a man in a nation and because he was above all, aiming, by all that he offered in his life, at serving his country not deriving advantage from it.