Doctor Halim: A Long, Fulfilling Lifetime In Many Ways

Doctor Halim: A Long, Fulfilling Lifetime In Many Ways

By: Yahya Hassan


KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Medical doctor (specialist), member of the head of the state council, founding member and chairman of the Sudan Football Association, founding member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), member of the International Olympic Committee, writer; and the list of achievements has a lot more to say.

That was Dr. Abdel Halim Mohamed (1910-2009), better known among his friends and across them to the World sports community by the name “Doctor Halim.”

Dr. Halim was born in Omdurman, Khartoum’s twin city across the River Nile in 1910 to a well known family (the Hashmab) that had its say in Sudan’s political history.

His grandfather Abdel Halim Masa’ad was a senior lieutenant of Sudan’s historical leader Mohammad Ahmed Almahdi who fought out the Turkish-Egyptian rule from the country in the late Nineteenth Century. It was after this Abdel Halim Masa’ad that the hero of this story was named. The same Abel Halim Masa’ad was also grandfather (from the side of his mother) of yet another great celebrity of Sudan: That was former Prime Minister (twice) and Foreign Minister (twice), the late Mohammad Ahmed Mahjoub.

The first edition of the African Cup of Nations (Alyoum Alsabie daily)

Doctor Halim had received his primary and intermediate education in Omdurman. He then finished his secondary education at the, then, Gordon Memorial College in Khartoum. He then attended the Kitchener School of Medicine.

As a physician he served in the Sudanese hospitals, and became director of the Khartoum Teaching Hospital and was the first chairman of Sudan’s Medical Association. In 1948 he became the first Sudanese to become a member of the Royal College of Physicians in London, and was elected a fellow of that college. He specialized in internal medicine. Persons close to him say his passion for studying internal medicine was because of an ailment that caused one of his lungs to be surgically removed at an early stage.

Entering politics, he became mayor of Khartoum from 1956-60. In 1964 he became a member of the Supreme Council of the State (the parliamentary five-member head of state). He was qualified for this high office by his role in the struggle for independence. In this he was one of the founders and organizers of the Graduates’ Congress that lead the peaceful struggle for the country’s independence from the Anglo-Egyptian rule. He was eight times elected member of the Congress’ sixty-man board that also elected him twice to the Congress executive committee. 

He was a prominent writer of the Congress magazine, often calling for unity of ranks away from divisive partisanship. Perhaps it was his dislike for stark partisanship and divisiveness that prompted him to resign the prestigious office of the Supreme Council of the State, contending, with his medical, intellectual and sporting activities.

From left: Hayatou, Blatter

As a writer, he co-authored with his cousin, the late former premier and foreign minister Mahjoub in their widely read book ”Death of A world” in which they chronicled a lot of the country’s political and cultural developments.

Doctor Halim was the first president of the Sudanese Football Association (SFA). He was also president of the Sudanese Equestrian Association and the Sudanese National Olympic Committee. He was also chairman of the Sudanese Basketball Association.

As SFA President, he (in 1957) was one of the three founders of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), with fellow footballers Mr. Tesema of Ethiopia and Mohammad Ahmed of Egypt. It was in that year that the African Cup of Nations was first born.

He was also an Executive Committee member of FIFA and served on several FIFA commissions.

Halim was member of International Olympic Committee (IOC) during 1968-82 and later an honorary IOC Member.

At the African level, Doctor Halim also enjoyed the CAF honorary presidency until his death in 2009, a great honor for him and for his country.

At the international level he was very much esteemed by FIFA’s successive presidents, who often reportedly sought his advice on football matters.

An employee in Sudan’s Paris Embassy said when Doctor Halim came to attend the Paris 1998 Olympics, he was accommodated in a complete wing in the Bristol Hotel in Central Paris. He was accorded a lot of hospitality and attention until the end of the games.

Later on the CAF executives were planning for him to grace the World Cup contest in South Africa, the first World Cup event to be held in Africa, but he passed before that event would take place.

Upon Doctor Halim’s death, FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter sent a letter to the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Issa Hayatou, offering condolences, and saying “Dr. Abdel Halim Mohamed, was an honorary member of FIFA and a trailblazer in African football:

"He will be sorely missed for his great intellect, determination and dedication by those whose lives he touched, whether on a personal level or as a result of the prodigious contribution he made within CAF during its emergence after 1956," said Blatter.

Dr. Mohamed was the first president of the Sudan Football Association, a key figure in the development of CAF and African football in general. Widely regarded as a man of great passion and dedication to the principles of the beautiful game, Dr. Mohamed's contributions in the area of the development of football on the African continent will not soon be forgotten, said Blatter.

"In the name of the international football community, we would like to pass on our sincerest condolences to the people of Africa, particularly the family and close friends of Dr. Abdel Halim Mohamed," Blatter went on. "You may rest assured that our thoughts and sympathy are with you all at this time of sadness." he said.

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