In Memory of Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf [Archives:2001/24/Reportage]

June 11 2001



By: Sa’ad Salah Khalis
In our afflicted country one would review pageants of names of journalists, writers and politicians, most of who are dispersed by days just like big dreams that vanish. We watch them one by one. Some names would insist to remain despite vicissitudes of time. They are the ones who bear future project and dreams too strong to vanish. They above all possess the will and capability of going ahead in implementing that project. The late Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf was an example of those possessing the will and capability.
Dr. Al-Saqqaf began his project with the Yemen Times newspaper and continued to include the issue of freedom in the entire country. He was a human machine with a non-stop function to realize the dreams; big and small. He proceeded from the newspaper to the university, to broadcasting and to an international conferences on democracies. His interests extended from reforming university education to the issue of non-governmental organizations, from the affairs of the village to those of the whole country. He wes energetic and enthusiastic on all directions and fronts. Nothing similar to its momentum but that of his tragic departure while he was at the apex of his contributions.
Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf shouldered all that burden in a country like Yemen with all its worries, contradictions and aspirations towards a better future. He experienced various circumstances that generated around him many friends and enemies. In our country, where intellectuals relish practicing the exercise of hubbub and condemnation as much as the cult of personality, it would be natural for such a man, who had achieved success exceeding boundaries of his country, to be faced with a long list of accusations. But a personality with the characteristics of Dr Al-Saqqaf was impregnable enough against such attempts and therefore he continued scoring successive successes to become a figure not easy to ignore.
From all articles written about Dr Al-Saqqaf since his departure until now it could be noted that their authors are looking for themselves inside the person of Al-Saqqaf, starting from his journey for public freedoms, passing through his personal project of independent ” Yemen Times” and ending with his dramatic departure.
Throughout the ten years I have spent in Yemen I have not attended a funeral such as that made for late Al-Saqqaf. Thousands of his friends and even foes, from high-ranking officials to the most common people took part in it, all were shocked by his sudden departure.
It is questionless that Yemen can generously grant other thousands of such personalities. But personally, I cannot but say that after Al-Saqqaf Yemen is no longer as it has been.