Ahmed Tarboosh: APPRECIATED POSTHUMOUSLY [Archives:1998/16/Business & Economy]
Ahmed Tarboosh was a gallant pan-Arabist, who believed in his cause and fought for it. He was a leading member of the Nasserite Unionist Organization. At the time of his death, he was a member of the General Secretariat and the Deputy President of the Organizing Committee of the 9th National Congress of the party. He died on the evening of February 28th following a massive heart attack.
Ahmed Tarboosh was born into a poor family in 1957 in the Al-Akama village in Al-Hujariya, Taiz. He finished his secondary schooling in 1975 at Al-Thawra Secondary School in Taiz, and later got a B.A. in management from Cairo University.
Joining the Nasserite organization in 1976, Ahmed displayed extraordinary talents, in terms of organization, ideology, politics and trade union activity. In a relatively short time, the populist Ahmed rose to become a well-known political activist and leader of people. His devotion and talent for gathering people around a worthy cause enabled him to occupy top trade union positions.
Following a successful tenure for a number of sessions, in 1980 Tarboosh was elected President of the Yemen Student’s League in Egypt, representing both north and south. He later became head of Yemen’s Nasserite organization branch in Egypt.
Upon his return to Yemen, Tarboosh became a member of the supreme executive leadership of the Nasserite organization and head of Al-Wahdawi newspaper, the mouthpiece of the party.
Ahmed Tarboosh’s steadfastness to his beliefs was put to the test during the period when the Nasserites in Yemen were targeted and ruthlessly persecuted. He stood tall in the many confrontations and played a major role in keeping the organization’s unity intact. Dr. Abdul-Quddoos Al-Midhwahi, a long-time colleague of Ahmed, said “We always looked to him for inspiration, courage and perseverance. He had clear vision and his eyes were always on the ball.”
He also worked hard on re-building the organization and preparing it for the period of political plurality that enveloped Yemen following the 1990 unification of the southern and northern parts of the country.
In spite of his leadership role for a long time, Ahmed Tarboosh, nevertheless, chose to stay out of the limelight. His concern was for achieving what he set out to achieve, not gaining social status or political influence. It was a kind of Sufism and sheer purity of character in him. The poor and the rejected were his bed-fellows. He identified with them, and fought for them. “It is this bias he had. He always sided with the underdog, the vulnerable, and inevitably, the poor,” recalls Mr. Abdul-Malik Al-Mikhlafi, Secretary-General of the Party today, and a long time friend of Tarboush.
He always had a great talent for instilling optimism and confidence in the hearts of his colleagues, especially in those dark hours and moments of soul-searching and tribulations.
The last political statement he wrote in the morning of that sad February day of his passing away condemned racism as “anti-humanity.” Lying on his death bed, as he was examined by a female doctor, a glint of hope sparkled in his eyes. “A Yemeni female doctor! A Yemeni female doctor,” he weakly uttered. This is what he fought for throughout his short but full life – to see Yemenis, men and women, attain their best.
Abdulrazzaq Shaif, one of Ahmed’s school teachers described him as follows: “Ahmed was one of my best students 30 years ago. His mental abilities far exceeded his tender age.”
One of his fellow freedom fighters, Abdulsalam Al-Hakeemi said, “Since his student days in Egypt, Ahmed Tarboosh was fueled by Jamal Abdul-Nasser’s sheer will power and charisma.” Ahmed lived in poverty. He lived in want throughout his life. He bore the brunt of material need and never complained, never took advantage of his influence. He was a modern day sufist.
But it is the fond memories of his wife, Amal Al-Basha, and their two kids that bring out the best qualities in the man.
“He was a tender man. He was in such desperate need, yet his pride and self-esteem never allowed him to bow down at any time to any one,” she said. “In spite of that, he was a man who cared.”
Indeed, with the passing away of Ahmed Tarboush, Yemen lost one of its great sons.
By: Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf
Chief Editor, Yemen Times