By Liban Ahmad
During the last week of July 2019 the City of Aden lost one of her unsung heroes: Hamed Jama Hussein, known to many Somalis as Xaamud Jaamac Xuseen. Judging by the tributes paid by such influential people as the President of Yemen Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, Ali Nasir Muhammad, the former President of what was People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, and other journalists and writers, it is fair to say that Hamed’s intellectual contributions have touched the lives of many Yemeni citizens, writers, editors, journalists and politicians.
Hamed was born in 1947 in Aden, then known as the Crown Colony, particularly in a part of the city known as Crater. In an essay written as a tribute to Hamed , Omar Abdiaziz described him as a son of Crater. “Hamed used to say ‘I was born in Crater; I will die in Crater’, wrote Omar.
Hamed had lived through major changes Aden had gone through for the last fifty-plus years – nationalist struggle against the British rule, the independence of South Yemen, the execution of Salim Rubai Ali, the 13 January, 1986 power struggle within the Socialist Party leadership, the Union of South and North Yemen in 1990, the 1994 civil war, and the Houthi campaigns against governorates in South Yemen, to mention just a view of political vicissitudes in the annals of Aden’s modern history.
I first met Hamed in Aden in 1995 through his brother, Said Jama Hussein, an essayist, a writer and contributor to Wardheernews. Hamed and his journalist colleagues met in a building near Crater bus station.
Hamed was a member of the Yemeni Unionist Congregation party founded by the late Omar Al-jawi. In 1994 when the civil war had broken out, Hamed was in Aden despite belonging to party that is unionist in outlook in a part of Yemen whose leaders declared unilateral secession from Sana’a. Hamed was the editor of Al Tagamu, the organ of the party, and a bestselling newspaper known for hard-hitting cartoons by Salem al-Hilali and well written articles including the unsigned column – Ama Ba’ad —written by the late Hamed Jama. Several times the Yemeni Government suspended the publication of the paper for venturing into public interest journalism.
In 1994 when the government of the late President Ali Abdalla Saleh introduced a policy to make Aden, the commercial city, the seat of government for several months after the scorching summer season, the police had rounded up Somali refugees and deported them to Bosaso in violation of their status recognised under an agreement between the Yemeni Government and the UNHCR. Al Tagamu published a report whose headline can be translated into English as Get your hands off our Somali brothers and sisters.
Hamud was an accomplished translator and nurturer of talents of young journalists. His translated into Arabic the best-selling book Fidel & Religion: Conversations with Frei Betto on Marxism & Liberation Theology and Arabian Assignment by David Smiley.
At a meeting-place for writers in Crater after the end of the 1994 civil war Hamed Jama wrote and edited articles. “Ustadh Hamed is this the right word to use in this context” I once heard a writer ask Hamed, who was flipping pages of his favourite magazine, Time. One writer had reminisced how Hamed Jama consoled his fellow Adenites at the height of Houthi campaigns against his beloved city. “ Aden will survive them” Hamed told his colleague. In a 2013 article, Abdelrahman Abdelqaliq, a journalist, described Hamed Jama “as the person who reminds me the best thing about Somalia”. Those words have warmed my heart when I was reflecting on the life and the work of Hamed Jama Hussein.
Tributes paid to the Late Hamed Jama Hussei
رحم الله المناضل حامد جامع ( God bless his soul patriot Hamed Jama)
حامد جامع مات… انا حزين ( Hamed Jama passed away… I am sad.)
إنسان اسمه حامد جامع ( A human being called Hamed Jama)
عدن تودع الشخصية الوطنية والسياسية حامد جامع ( Aden bids farewell to a political and national personality Hamed Jama)
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