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Farwell to a Revolutionary Romantic by Mutasim Agraa

03-29-2018, 05:06 PM
معتصم الأقرع
<aمعتصم الأقرع
Registered: 07-26-2016
Total Posts: 4






Farwell to a Revolutionary Romantic by Mutasim Agraa

    05:06 PM March, 29 2018

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    I knew Yasir Jaafar Ibrahim Sanhouri since before kindergarten in Medani. He has always been a closest and best friend. What a life he lived! Not a single moment of cowardice. Not a single moment of greed. Not a single moment of meanness. Not a single moment of hypocrisy. Not a single moment of insincerity. Not a single moment of sycophancy. He lived a large, brave life. He was not a lion only because he never hurt anyone, outside battlefield, for a meal or otherwise, as lions do. Yasir was far too noble to be called a lion. He was always generous to a fault. Brave without calculations; to the point of recklessness. A true revolutionary who believed in revolution, sacrificed everything and gave it all from high school to grave.
    Having brave, fearless, Yasir as a friend, from day one, was the best defence insurance against the childhood bullies abound, so we ventured out and about to discover life with no fear and without having to buy safety by staying indoor. We played everything together. Swam together, crossed the river, and stole melons and cucumber from river islands together. But he hated football even though he had a good left foot. We discovered cinema together and were not afraid to venture for late shows, out and about. By middle school Yasir developed into an incurable romantic at an early age. His middle and high school serial romantic entanglements were epic. In a true socialist spirit, we shared, enjoyed and dissected every letter he wrote with red ink and every letter he received from his admirers. He was an action hero, he went out sending and receiving the letters. We, the rest of the band, were good for nothing idiots. All we had were jealous tongues that pointed out the spelling and grammar mistakes in the letters, and if none were there, we had to invent some other downers. But Yasir couldn’t care less.
    Middle school was unusually precautious intellectual time. We discovered classical music, politics, philosophy and political economy. No wonder, early in high school Yasir joined the communist party in search for class justice and ending the exploitation of the poor by the rich. He was at the heart of all the party’s restlessness during his Cairo University years. And it was not only politics. Yasir was a ferocious volcanic lover as well as a fierce politico who was never afraid to take sides no matter what the cost. And yet, even though I, for one, have always been a creature of the left, I never joined the communist party. This, however, had never affected my friendship with Yasir. He never preached or tried to convert me. I always respected his positions. Between us, it was only love, full trust, friendship and an endlessly candid conversation about everything.
    When he found the party too cold for his revolutionary fire, he packed up and left. He questioned the method and vehicle of the party, not the professed equality goals. It was a dignified exit, not a repentance. Principled, unhostile, never for sale, and none of the garden variety holier than thou cheap posturing and vulgar political mongering of the commexiters overtime. He was far taller than that. His stay with the commies was rather uneasy, he thought that the party was not sufficiently hard-line, and he often repeated that the party’s accommodation with patriarchy was anti-revolutionary and defeatist. On the other side, some of the commissars thought at that time Yasir should cool down and let maturity seep into his hothead. They also pointed out that his unflinching romantic commitments, even at student union elections, and other times of political emergency, were out of order and worth reprimand. He frequently volleyed back reiterating Guevara’s adage that one cannot be a good revolutionary without being a good lover. With women, as in politics, Yasir’s romanticism was incurable. He lived and died for true love and the revolution.
    From the commies Yasir moved to the SPLM at the time when class was prominent in its discourse and the organizing ideological principle was African socialism – complete with racial and regional justice for all. Even though he was studying law at Cairo University, most of the time he lived with us at U of K dorms. He left Khartoum for the SPLM from our dorm room at U of K. We were so broke, we had to walk from the dorm to the airport for him to catch the flight. His parting wish at the airport was that we should do everything to help his sweetheart fly for the revolution and reunite with him when she was ready. And so the childhood roads diverged in space, but not in principle or spirit.
    In Yasir the SPLM-A gained its most principled, distinguished, bravest commander who was beyond the prejudice of class, race, gender or region. At the battlefield he was a legend, universally loved and respected for his nerve and courage. Even though he was politically sharp and unmatched in eloquence as a speaker , he shunned the sphere of spotlight politicking; preferring the company of his most junior soldiers, in the wilderness, with whom he ate rats, grass, insects, dead animals, vultures and donkeys.
    He was once jailed by the SPLA for leaving his gun as a pawn with lady brewer till he secure a few pennies to pay his dues - No one can say that the Commander was humourless. He was released only when the Nasser coup was launched by Machar. Yasir had to be released from the SPLA incarceration to lead the forces entrusted to end the mutiny, which he did with his typical vigor. Later on, when Machar was brought back into the fold of the SPLM post Naivasha, Yasir refused to salute him; telling him that his hands are stained with too much innocent blood for a handshake.
    Yasir moved to Khartoum following the Naivasha accord. Despite his political skills and oratory gift, he shunned the Khartoum corridors of real political power and finance which opened themselves widely for him. He had no interest in the company of leaders, big men, celebrities or stars – he concurred with Garcia Marquez that powermongers belong with the hookers, not with him. Yasir preferred to spend time with simple SPLM soldiers from the south and all parts of Sudan. He was never interested in power and he lacked the “flexible realism” necessary for political survival in the age of universal deceit under globalized neoliberalism. And he also preferred the company of the young, radical and revolutionary, real and wannabe, Khartoumites who made Yasir’s residence their headquarters.
    Every time I went to Sudan after Naivasha, Yasir received me either at the airport or the next day and insisted I stay at his house. He was a top SPLM leader, and I have been one of the earliest and possibly harshest critics of the SPLM and its praxis. Yasir never allowed difference in political opinion to muddy the friendship, he respected my opinion as much as I respected his. Full respect for independence of minds had always been our way. He never preached the SPLA gospel to me and never had any problem with my piercing SPLM critique. The conversation about the SPLM, as about every other issue, was candid, critical, respectful and always tried to see both sides of the coin. We both understood that life does not come in simple, clean packages of good and evil. Most often, good and evil coexist and inhabit the same object with varying degrees and manifestations.
    Yasir had zero interest in the access to power which could have easily allowed him to loot zillions of dollars had he wanted to. The lure of money and power were always beneath him. His glorious vulnerabilities were only for revolution and true love. In the post Naivasha Khartoum, he was the most senior northern SPLM military man, he was also the Commander-in-Chief of the Joint Forces (the seed for a unified national army) and yet often enough he was not able to pay the rent; to the agony and customary rants of the house owner. Yasir stayed clean and the only reason he did not resist the seduction of power is he never saw, heard or felt this seduction. He was totally blind to power, he never wanted it and was never intimidated by its wielders. Unlike many, he was immune to the disease of power: he never kissed any ass up the power ladder, and never kicked anyone who happened to be down the ladder. He lived and died a free man.
    The premature death of Garang and the subsequent directionless desultory wandering of the SPLM disappointed him deeply. In the bleak, darkest moments of the wee hours of the day, he used to quip that the SPLM as a progressive project died in the air crash with its founder. He was never happy with the performance of the SPLM post Naivasha. And he was furious at the withdrawal of the SPLM from the elections in 2010.
    And then the cessionist faction of the SPLM won the day and separated the south. One more dagger, the biggest, was planted in Yasir’s heart. From then on, Yasir was a death waiting to happen. Discontent with the communist project was something, disappointment with the SPLM performance post-Naivasha was worse, but the separation of the south was fatal, and simply unliveable.
    Yasir moved to Juba in 2011, upon partition of the country, because it was his Ikhwan-less country and because he was too poor to go elsewhere. Nonetheless in Juba he had to witness the infight for power among the novice mega rich SPLM apparatchik. True to himself, as always, he was critical of both the Silva and old Machar sides. And then the SPLM-North, in its labyrinth, had the blatant temerity to dismiss one of its best and most principled commanders from its ranks, along with a handful of other colleagues of his. History may record this dismissal as yet another badge of honour for Yasir in light of the subsequent intrigue and revelations which continue to unfold as a result of the SPLM-North meltdown. Later on, when the SPLM-North split into two factions, Yasir was not impressed by either side. He stuck to his principles and was not interested in paying back, fishing in muddy waters, or milking the opportunity to regain a turf or to settle a score.
    Yasir grew up in a fairly middle-class family that owned two landrovers and a farm. Granted that they were beat up, but they were still two landrovers. And yet during childhood school holidays Yasir worked in the sweltering heat of Sudan’s summer as a construction worker to foot his own bills and treat his mom and siblings for this gift or that. And we, his friends, were daily beneficiaries of his solvency during school holidays. Such was his pride, sense of duty, independence and humility. And when he relocated to Juba in 2011, upon partition of the country, he had to hold odd jobs in the war-torn town to stay afloat. It must have been a scene to witness one of the most senior SPLM leaders - the Commander of the Joint Forces, and Sudan’s representative to the Arab Inter-parliamentary Union - labouring again as a construction worker in the Juba of the “free” independent SPLM republic of South Sudan. The glaring contrast with the untold fortunes of too many other self-styled revolutionaries is heartening, looking at it from Yasir’s quarters, and disheartening when gazed at from the other side. In childhood we nicknamed him ‘abu tugul’ (the heavy one) because he was a bit chubby and better fed than the rest. He dies heavy with integrity, principle and honesty. This cosmos will not be the same without Yasir, for he was one of its brightest stars ever.
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Arabic Forum

03-29-2018, 10:13 PM
Yasir Elsharif
<aYasir Elsharif
Registered: 12-09-2002
Total Posts: 26067






Re: Farwell to a Revolutionary Romantic by Mutasim Agraa (Re: معتصم الأقرع)

    الله يرحم ياسر جعفر السنهوري ويحسن إليه ويحسن في فقده عزاء الأسرة والأهل والأصدقاء وعزاءك يا عزيزي معتصم
    وشكرا لإشراكنا قراءة مكتوبك هذا
    ياسر
                  

Arabic Forum

03-30-2018, 02:59 AM
Mohamed Doudi
<aMohamed Doudi
Registered: 01-27-2005
Total Posts: 2815






Re: Farwell to a Revolutionary Romantic by Mutasim Agraa (Re: Yasir Elsharif)

    رحم الله ياسر الشجاع الباسل
    رسول السلام فى حل نزاعات جيش الامه والحركه الشعبيه
    شكرا يا معتصم اعطيت ولم تستبق شيئا
    دودى
                  

Arabic Forum

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