Libyan Constitutional Union

 
 

www.libyanconstitutionalunion.org

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www.libyanconstitutionalunion.net  

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www.lcu-libya.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 
 

Obituary

 

Quran : verse 69, chapter 29

 
 
 

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Death of an Honourable Libyan Literary Giant

and a Highly Principled Patriot

 


On 15th November 2007 the Libyan Constitutional Union mourned the death of one of its founding members who died that morning in London after a short battle with lung cancer.  The following is a brief history of the life of Mohamed Algazeri.


 

Mohamed Hussein Algazeri

Derna 1937  -   London 2007

 

By Mohamed Ben Ghalbon

 

 

  • He was born in the Libyan eastern city of Derna on 2nd June 1937, where he finished his elementary schooling in the academic year 1950/51.  He showed signs of unique academic abilities from an early age.  He graduated first in the entire eastern province of Cyrenaica (The Kingdom of Libya then consisted of three provinces, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania and Fezzan).

 

  • Algazeri moved to Cyrenaica’s capital city, Benghazi, in 1955 to finish his secondary education as secondary schools were not at the time available in his birth place Derna.  After finishing secondary school he enrolled at the Libyan University in the city to study English language and Literature at the Faculty of Art. 

 

  • He graduated from University in 1959 coming first in his class which earned him the post of assistant lecturer at the same University, and subsequently qualified him in 1961 for a state scholarship to be sent to the USA for postgraduate study.

 

  • He returned home after only a few months to live in Benghazi, the city he loved beyond description and soon became one of its prominent figures within a growing circle of young literary intellectuals in the period between the mid sixties and mid seventies.  This circle of close friends included the writers Sadiq Al-Naihum and Khalifa Al-Fakhri, as well as his very close friend (both then at home and later in exile), the Libyan writer, publisher and newspaper magnate Rashaad Al-Hooni (may Allaah have mercy on them all).  Although Mohamed Algazeri was as gifted and capable as all of the above, he always shied away from the limelight. 

 

  • In the years between graduation and leaving Libya, he worked in several jobs that began with a job as a translator in the oil company Esso, and later included working as secretary general of Benghazi’s chamber of commerce and as an official translator in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli.

 

  • Algazeri left Libya for the United Kingdom in 1977.  He worked temporarily as a translator in the Libyan Embassy with a local contract for approximately two years.

 

  • He went back to Libya at the end of 1979 and quickly returned to Britain in 1980 where he settled permanently.

 

  • He soon began to get involved in activities of the Libyan opposition in exile with literary contributions in some of the opposition’s publications. In 1980 he formed with a few Libyan exiles the “Libyan Patriots Front”.  He took the organisation’s journal “Libya Al-Ankaa”, (Libya the Phoenix) as a platform to attack and expose the military regime ruling Libya and incite against it.

 

  • By a special arrangement with his old friend Rashaad Al-Hooni, founder and then editor of the London based Al-Arab daily newspaper; he worked for the same paper from home until the autumn of 1981.

 

  • We were brought together by the Libyan national struggle, to contribute to alleviating the horrors inflicted on the homeland by the regime of the Military Junta, in the middle of the summer of 1981, when we were introduced by a mutual friend.  I visited him in his home in the quiet English town of Andover, Hampshire, to introduce the idea of the LCU to him and invite him to work together to establish the movement.

 

  • It did not take him long to grasp the cogency and validity of the idea in all its aspects and he immediately, without hesitation, qualifications or conditions welcomed cooperation between us to materialise it.

 

  • He abandoned his job at Al-Arab newspaper and his home in Andover and moved to Manchester to live in the house adjacent to my home, which we took as a temporary base for the LCU.  He volunteered to work full time in the National cause as an announced founding member of the Libyan Constitutional Union

 

  • The credit goes to Algazeri’s literary talents for presenting the idea of the LCU in a clear, articulate and attractive fashion in three booklets issued by the LCU in 1981 on the thirtieth anniversaries of the declaration of the Libyan Constitution, the UN resolution pertaining to Libya’s independence and the nation’s independence from Italian colonialism on 24 December 1951.

 

  • We continued working together within the framework of the LCU until 1989 when he moved to London to start a job in the editorial staff of “Al-Majalla” magazine through the good offices of his friend Rashaad Al-Hooni.  As part of the agreement with Al-Majalla magazine he stopped participating in public opposition activities against the Military regime.

 

  • He lived in London and continued working at “Al-Majalla” until 2003. 

 

  • It is worth documenting here that it was Mohamed Algazeri who undertook the task of translating the book, “Life and Times of King Idris of Libya”, written by Her Britannic Majesty’s Resident, Cyrenaica, the late Eric A V de Candole (CBE) in 1989 from English to Arabic [1].  In that delicate task he employed all his talent and deep knowledge of both the Arabic and English languages to produce a truly remarkable translation, which merited the admiration of all readers who were able to fully appreciate quality writing.  He translated it in a masterly fashion giving the impression that the author was directly talking to readers and not via an interpreter.  Such a task required full command of both languages as well as literary talents of the highest standards.  He undertook the task voluntarily and received no payment in return.  In the introduction of the translation book, I referred to Algazeri as “the finest Libyan translator” without mentioning him by name because that was his wish.  At that time he was concerned that appearing politically active was contrary to his contract with “Al-Majalla” magazine and might jeopardise the post, which he secured after a long period of unemployment and financial hardship.  He was also careful not to harm the chances of his two sons who were in their teens, and whom he had left as young children some ten years earlier.  He always carried their photos in his wallet and was very anxious to see them.

 

  • In fact Algazeri’s  particular gift of skilfully and honestly conveying the thoughts of the author by entirely removing the presence of the translator from between the writer and readers, yet maintaining the high standard of the literary work in the original language, was responsible for introducing the prominent Palestinian American literary theorist and prolific writer, Edward W. Said, to an Arabic readership.  (The late Edward Said was a Professor of English and Comparative Literature, a member of the Columbia faculty since 1963 and University Professor from 1992 until his death in 2003, and author of many books - among them the highly acclaimed “Orientalism” and “The Other”).

 

  • Algazeri’s former employer at Al-Majalla magazine, Abdulrahman Al-Rashid, then Editor in chief of the London Based Arabic Weekly, stated in an obituary of Algazeri published recently [2]  that when Al-Majalla reached an agreement with Professor Said to write for them, they were faced with the problem of translating his work into Arabic.  A task, he revealed, only Algazeri was equal to considering the author’s long sentences which were saturated with difficult to translate philosophical and cultural ideas and concepts.  Algazeri stepped in to re-write the entire articles in a masterly literary style that matched the class of the original work, Al-Rashid added.  The quality of the translation lead Professor Said’s readers to believe, as he admitted, that he was in fact writing those article himself in Arabic, and not talking to them via an interpreter.  This internationally famous intellectual and one of the most influential scholars in his time asked to meet Algazeri personally on a visit to London to express his gratitude to the man who introduced him to an Arabic speaking audience.

This one episode demonstrated Algazeri’s hidden artistic literary talents as a writer in his own right. 

 

  • Following the end of his employment with “Al-Majalla” in 2003, Algazeri went through difficult times which could only be fully appreciated by those who have experienced similar hardships in their exile.  He dealt with those rough times with grace, pride and dignity not many can match.  It is important to note that Algazeri belonged to a rare class of people who would disappear when circumstances deteriorate and feel that they are about to become a burden on friends.  In other words he would keep his distance from his friends when he needed them the most, and dealt with problems alone sparing his friends the trouble of his burden.  I have no doubt that had he not been forced by the terminal illness that befell him, and the assurances by his doctors that his days were numbered, he would not have contacted his friends to reveal his whereabouts and inform them that he was “doomed”, as he put it.

 

  • I visited him at St. Mary’s hospital where he was receiving chemotherapy for lung cancer that was diagnosed in May 2007.  I found him brave and in high spirits in spite of the clearly deteriorating health and the knowledge that he was finishing off the few remaining days of the life which Allaah had assigned him. With all that we found that his unique, sharp sense of humour never forsook him.  He remained loyal to “his life long companion” the habit of smoking, and refused to blame it for causing his calamity.

 

  • I visited him for the last time in the evening of Tuesday 13th November in his temporary home in London, where he passed away the following Thursday (15th November 2007).  I was accompanied by my brother Hisham and a mutual friend.  Algazeri was released from hospital earlier that day.  We found him in good spirit and complained only from the side effects of the medication he was receiving which affected his concentration and prevented him from writing some of his thoughts, which he wanted to record.

 

  • I knew Mohamed Algazeri throughout our cooperation, both from close range when he was near us in Manchester and later (from a distance) when he lived in London.  I found him a remarkable person, aloof in his mentality, thinking and manners and with unique untraditional ethics found only in very few.  He despised trivialities and kept himself above petty matters.  He had no taste for pointless lengthy conversations.

 

  • Algazeri’s funeral was held on 21st November 2007.  Many of his friends in exile came from far and wide to say farewell to a man that commanded respect from those who knew him personally or learned of his steadfastness and dignified stand from others.  We buried him in Manchester’s Southern Cemetery (grave No. RR 2281) after Janaza prayers were conducted at Manchester Islamic Centre (Didsbury Mosque).

 

  • May Allaah, in His generosity and grace, shroud Mohamed Algazeri in His mercy and abode him in His vast paradise.  May He count his struggle for the national cause, his endurance of the vicious illness and his suffering of the hardship of exile in his account of good deeds.  May Allaah help his sons Husain and Mrajei, and all his family and grant them endurance.

 

 

(Quran: Verse 156 : Chapter 1)

 

 


[1] http://www.lcu-libya.co.uk/dcbook.htm

 [2]  Al-Rashid’s daily column in Asharq Al-Awsat of 15 December 2007 : http://www.asharqalawsat.com/leader.asp?section=3&issue=10609&article=449852

 

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Photos

I present these photos to all Mohamed’s family and friends.

They were all taken on the evening of Tuesday 13th November 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PHOTO ALBUM

 

 

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The following Photos  are divided into three groups according to the date they were taken

 

They are presented as a gift to

 Mohamed Algazeri's

 family and friends

 

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First Group

 

These photos were taken at the headquarters of the Libyan Constitutional Union in Manchester, England in the end of 1981 and beginning of 1982

 

 

 

Algazeri with Mohamed and Hisham Ben Ghalbon (October 1981)

 

 

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Second Group

 

Taken at the Ben Ghalbon family home in Manchester - UK during various occasions in the period between the middle and end of 1980s

 
 

(Mid 1980s)

 

 

 

Algazeri and the late Ali Ben Ghalbon (end of 1980s)

 

 

 

 

 

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Third Group

 

Taken Tuesday 13th November 2007 at Algazeri's home in London, where he passed away less than two days later

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 

May Allaah, in His generosity and grace, shroud our dear friend Mohamed Algazeri in His mercy and abode him in His vast paradise.

   

"Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return." 

(Quran: Verse 156 : Chapter 1)

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Revised: February 24, 2014 .