I claim and this was confirmed yesterday in a phone call by my learned friend and fellow-Aidarusi neighbour
Dr. M. Ali Al Bar that Hussein Al Hibshi did not teach in a Government School before Aden College.
I know this from first hand personal experience as he joined as a teacher my excellent Intermediate Bazara School around 1953-54 if my memory serves me right. Dr. Khalid Uqba and his classmate Dr. Abdulla A. Wali Nasher could testify to this. We cannot forget what Mr. Hibshi did on his first day there.
Al Hibshi رحمه الله رحمة واسعة was a wiry, muscular strongly built athlete of the highest order. He could do acrobatics to great effect. That day there was another new teacher, I think he is a paternal uncle of Al Bar, Hussein Al Saffi (who later became Director of Aden Radio) also a tough P.T. teacher. Al Hibshi gathered all pupils in the school courtyard, quite a crowd and asked Al Saffi to cup both his hands for him to climb on. Within seconds Al Hibshi was flying 10 feet into the air, did a few turns and twists in the air and landed nimbly and firmly on his feet to the amazement and loud applause of at least 200 pupils, staff and assistants.
That was my first flabbergasted glimpse of this incredible one of a kind نسيج وحده. He became our hero, and with his impeccable manners and strong character he was accepted as a father figure at once. When he moved to Aden College later I was already known to him. Unlike Adel and Nagib and possibly others whose hairs suffered from his pulling power and/or from his proverbial أجيب لك كرسوع, I was one of those who got on very well with him, enjoyed his teaching and apparently won his approval in both manners and results. Proof of this? Mr. Al Hibshi and Mr. Ali Awadh Bamatraf another unforgettable teacher as a panel awarded me the Best Essay Prize jointly with another student whose name I forget now more than 52 years ago. I was therefore immune from hair pulling or ‘karsooing’ (incidentally this vernacular confirms his Iraqi educational background).
Here is a pleasant surprise for you which I was keeping for my series: Portraits from Memory of this wonderful human being who made us all cry with him one sad afternoon in 1957 when his beloved young wife and mother of his young children suddenly passed away.
He lived in a small house at the back of the College huge compound nearest to Dar Saad whereas the Brits had the better villas on the Sh. Othman side. Such was the fairplay of Westerners!? أحرام على بلابله الدوح ... حلال للطير من كل جنس
The surprise is the attached photo of a smart, kind (yes) and بنا ناس. Ustad Hussein Al Hibshi belonged to a good Hadrami family although he was half Javan (Indonesian Island) and had lived his early years there, hence a slightly accented Arabic followed by several years in Baghdad for his education before returning to his country of origin. The rest of the story is history,
This treasure which I kept all these 52 years he presented to me his student/son who was only 16 years old.
The dedication he wrote at the back of his picture shows his parental warmth, his pedagogic strength and incomparable humanity masked by seemingly harsh and awesome exterior.
This was a parting gesture as he must have left Aden College that summer after his personal tragedy. The details escape me now but he had to make urgent arrangements for his young kids and I recollect vaguely that he may have remarried primarily for this purpose. This could have been coupled with a self-imposed exile to Cairo where most of the leadership of the South Arabian League led by Al Jiffri, Shaikhan Al Hibshi and Al Hariri and Abdulla Hadi Subait the Poet took refuge. Al Hariri from an old Adeni family stayed on in Aden and suffered a savage beating by some agent during a public demonstration where he delivered a fiery speech. This good hounorable man was then already in his fifties.
He wrote at the back of the photo in a beautiful hand couched in crisp and fresh Arabic words that filled me with joy and pride. How insightful these Teachers were as my career took exactly the path they predicted بفضل الله.
The 1950’s in Aden were somewhat turbulent. The 1952 revolutionary and Nationalist influence was sweeping across the Arab World and beyond into Africa and Asia. Aden came to a standstill during the 1956 aggressive tri-partite war against Egypt. I remember as a second year A.C student we stayed away in a strike for the first time in Aden history. Nationalist feelings and independence fervour were brewing up against the British and the newly-formed Federation. The League led the opposition during this period with support from a nascent but powerful Nationalist Trade Union Congress led by Abdulla Al Asnag and others. In less than a decade Aden and the South became the melting pot of various political currents and experienced first Aden for the Adenies, then the concept of a larger South Arabia advocated by the League, to be soon superseded by a pan-Arab pan-Yamani concept by the Labour movement and its political arm the Socialist Party later overtaken by armed struggle with the NLF led by Qahtan Al Shaabi, Faisal Abdullatif, Saif Al Dhalie and others in October 1964 and flossy led by Asnag, Basundwa, Omar Ba Wazir and others. History was in the making.
So in the uncertain, turbulent unpredictable and increasingly unstable situation in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s Hussein Al Hibshi left Aden and the rest of his story is rather vague and fuzzy. He may have moved after Nasser’s death to the Gulf in the seventies and died soon after.
Apologies my friends if I got carried away by a compelling fond nostalgia of a man who engraved his memory into our young innocent souls. Hence all this burst of enthusiasm by Adel, Shihab, Amjad, Al Bar and myself simply at my mention of his name last week.
Hussein Al Hibshi certainly was a live wire and found the space available to him too narrow and intolerant for his buoyant, free and hyper active nature. He was certainly a Man of Distinction, one of a kind and a man no one can ever forget
تغمــده الله برحمته الواسعــة وأدخله فسيح جناته وجزاه عنا خير الجزاء
D. Shaihab Ghanem comments :
This is a good article, however, I am a 100% sure that Mr Hussain (or if u prefer Hussein) did teach me at the Intermediate/Secondary school probably in 1952. later he taught me at Aden College physical training and Arabic composition. I remember once he asked us to describe a picnic. He wrote under my piece "I wish I was with you (i.e. on the picnic)" and gave me ten out of ten and hence he was together with Mr. Abdulla Hashem, Mr. Ibrahim Robleh, Mr. Louden, the English literature teacher in form six, and of course my father some of the persons who encouraged me to try to become a writer. Perhaps also Mr. Lutfi Aman.
I did attend the funeral of his wife. That was the only time I saw him cry. After her death he married her sister as he felt she was likely to be kinder to his children than another woman. Hussain encouraged us to be manly and tough. He also found various situations amusing and grinned and laughed often. May Allah rest his soul.
Shihab Mohamed Abdo Ghanem