By Fakhri al-Arashi
How could I have known that the five minutes I spent chatting (and, I will be honest, arguing) with the late, brilliant young activist Ibrahim Mothana this past Wednesday would be among the last in Ibrahim’s life? A chance meeting brought us together in the Media Center of the National Dialogue, and despite our long separation we were instantly speaking intimately about our concerns–mainly his concern–about the future of the Dialogue given the modest encouragement of the people, the conclusion of the Conference, and the political process in the country. How could I have known that this would be my last conversation with such a potent thinker and gifted young leader?
I first met Ibrahim four years ago at the house of Khalid al-Jabali, who regularly invites talented youth like Ibrahim to his knowledge forum, where they can reflect on the success stories of forum’s guests as good examples to follow in their own lives. I was astonished to listen to a 21-year old giving a presentation on the importance of reading, his love of reading, and the care he took to make time for it in his impressively busy life. But as astonished I was to discover his knowledge, poise, and aptitude four years ago, I was shocked so much more–and so much more painfully–by the premature death of this incredible individual. I could not believe that only 21 hours separated our last meeting and Ibrahim’s last breath.
Already an activist, writer, diligent volunteer and advisor to youths and politicians alike, Ibrahim was far ahead of his age. He was ahead of his time, as well, visualizing a Yemen free from corruption, free from Qat, and fully modernized in health, education, and political administration. He was unafraid to not just dream big, but to dream huge. And perhaps more important still, he was unafraid to work to make those dreams become real. The sad tone of this editorial does a disservice to Ibrahim’s inspiring, spirited dynamism and contagious optimism.
I am sorry Ibrahim, but you have met with your fate as destined by Allah, the fate that we all will one day face ourselves. Your death is a loss not just to your family, but to the country that you traveled the world to spread word of. In you, Yemen has lost one of its greatest advocates. In you, the world has lost one of its greatest sources of knowledge, kindness, and patience.
Ibrahim, I was one of the last to meet you before your death, and one of the last to learn of your death as well. You need worry no more about the future of Yemen because you have reached your final future. I came to know you as a straightforward person and for that, I and all of those who know you believe that you will rest in peace and Allah will grant you mercy for the great work you did for yourself, for those around you, and for the country that we will fight for in your stead.
Ibrahim, tears are not enough for you.