KHARTOUM (Sudanow) — Three Sudanese had reportedly assumed the highest offices of government in foreign countries.
Of these was Algaddal Saeed Algaddal who became Prime Minister of the Sultanate of Hadramawt, now part of the Republic of Yemen.
The other two were Ahmed Hassan Matter who, according to his memoirs entitled “The Sindibad of Sudan”, was elected President of Chile for 9 months, thus becoming the first foreigner to assume this prestigious office in that South American country.
The second one was Dr. Alfatih Hasanain who became caretaker President of the Republic of Bosnia for several months when elected President Ali Ezzat Begovic was put in custody by the Serbian rulers, during the break up of former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
Sheikh Gaddal, the subject of this story, according to his daughter Ehsan Algaddal, in Sudanow interview, was born in Gedarif, Eastern Sudan, in 1903.
He started his tuition very early at the hands of his father. Then he joined the Khatmiyya religious group’s Koran khalwa School (seminary) to learn the Holy Book and continue with his studies of Arabic he started with his father.
Then his father enrolled him in the Urafa School, a teacher training facility within the works of the Gordon Memorial College (Sudan’s first secondary school that later on morphed into the Khartoum University college and then developed into the present University of Khartoum.)
After graduation from the Urafa School, he was appointed teacher in the Kasala Primary School, Eastern Sudan. In the town of Kasala, Gaddal imbued himself in social and cultural work.
That period had followed the defeat of the of the year 1924 Revolution by the British authorities. A dark cloud of sadness had engulfed the nation after the failure of that uprising, lead by Sudanese officers and troops in the colonial Army. For that defeat, that period was called alridda (fallback).
The educated rarity found a breath of freedom in literary activity, whereby lots of literary societies were formed, the graduates of the Urafa School taking the lead in this fervor.
Sheikh Gaddal joined the almuwazzafeen club, a social club of white color employees.
In the club, Sheikh Gaddal launched a literary society he termed “the fruit of reading,” that became an important cultural forum in Kasala. Gaddal himself, was a good poet.
As a teacher, Sheikh Gaddal had displayed a lot of distinct educational capabilities:
When he was transferred to the Town of Sinkat (in the Red Sea Region) in 1927 as the headmaster of its primary school, he strived to win the confidence of the local Bija community. He gathered a wealth of information about that community, learned their language and helped them resolve many problems of the area. In this he helped launch a donation fund (the milleem fund) that pooled traders’ donations to improve necessary services. The fund had survived for a long time.
Sheikh Gaddal later on copied this model on a large scale when he was seconded to Hadramawt education authority in Yemen.
Sheikh Gaddal’s achievements in Sinkat were appreciated by the British administrators and educators, who sent him on several training courses for outstanding school headmasters in the Bakht Alruda Teacher Training Institute in Ed Dueim, central Sudan. Those courses were devoted to shining school headmasters, held under the title: STAR HEADMASTERS.
Gaddal’s time in Bakht Alruda, so short as it was, were an opening for him towards the innovations in education that helped him in the future.
Noting his excellence, the Institute’s Principal, Mr. Griffith nominated him to be seconded to Hadramawt when that government’s requested for a qualified person to upgrade its education. In reply to that request, Mr. Griffith wrote: I have found the right man for you!
Sheikh Gaddal travelled to Hadramawt in 1939. His acumen, his devotion and his good reputation and his refusal to accept gifts propelled him to the office of Minister of Education in that country, where he transferred and indigenized the Bakht Alruda educational experiment.
Sheikh Gaddal had delved into the Hadramawt society via a lot of avenues. His experiments in Sudan had helped him create a conducive climate for educational reform.
During 1939-1959 he managed to achieve what can be called “the educational revolution” in Hadramawt, both in terms of depth and cost -effectiveness: He exploited the meager resources available for him to make change.
His high sociability and knowledge had prompted a Yemeni citizen to state, during a party held in his honor upon his transfer from the Ministry of education to the premiership, that “Gaddal had lived inside our homes for a long time, mixed with the public, had a close insight into the people’s problems, was affected by the people and had affected them. Gaddal knows how to treat people and win their hearts.
Wrote about him Mrs. Dorain Engrams, wife of the British Advisor to the Government of Hadramawt: “He is a man of great personality, a born teacher and one who knows to implant confidence in suspicious minds.”
Thanks to Gaddal’s discretion, education in Hadramawt had excelled education in all the then Yemeni British protectorates, in fact excelling that of Aden, the Capital.
Gaddal should not be credited for this achievement in Hadramawt all by himself. His effort was coupled by effort from other capable Sudanese and Hadrami personalities who worked with him.
After sheikh Gaddal had become an influential person in the Hadramawt Region and the other Yemeni Sheikhdoms and Sultanates, The Sultan of Hadramawt named him the Secretary of the State and Prime Minister in place of the Zanzibari, Sheikh Saifeddin Ali Alabuali.
During Gaddal’s tenure as prime minister Hadramawt had seen noteworthy progress in the administration, health and education.
He had remained in the office of Prime Minister from 1950 up to 1957.
One year after he assumed this office, the British advisor wrote that Gaddal “treasures real administrative capabilities, enjoys countrywide respect, he is a wise man, clever, has a strong character and well known for his integrity and decency.
His appointment was welcomed by all and his administrative thumbprint had showed up from the start.
He toured the regions and rural and bedouin areas.
He delegated sharia and criminal courts inspection to the chief justice.
He faced problems with the Bedouins who constitute a basic section of the Hadrami population and who were in a state of constant rebellion against the central government. To pacify them, he strived to improve their material and social conditions.
Sheikh Gaddal ended his service in Hadramawt in 1957 by the coming of the new Sultan who succeeded Sultan Saleh bin Ghalib al-Qu'aiti upon his death, refusing to continue upon the excuse that he had reached the time he should go on retirement according to the laws of the government of Sudan that seconded him to Hadramawt.
Upon his departure back home, he was seen off by the new Sultan and the Sultanate’s dignitaries.
The State of Qatar offered him a senior educational post, but he preferred to return to Sudan.
He returned to Kasala once again, refusing a commercial agency in Khartoum offered to him by the British authorities in recognition of his good work in Arabia.
Then the new government of independent Sudan approached him to become Sudan’s Ambassador in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an offer he turned down saying he would not live outside Sudan once more.
In Kasala he continued his work in education and as chair of the town’s municipality.
He was in charge of girls education which he promoted a good deal and contributed to the building of schools until he retired in 1964.
One of Gaddal’s great achievements was his ability to convince the Hadandawa Bija community of the East about the importance of academic education, at the beginning of his service in the region.
The Hadandawas were not inclined to send their kids to school.
To solve the problem, he was forced to learn the Hadandawa language to endear them. He toured the Hadandawa settlements to convince the tribal chiefs about the viability of education. The chieftains were convinced about his arguments and took their children to school. Then the public followed after the social barrier was broken.
Gaddal did not stop there. He kept a follow up of the Hadandawa school graduates, encouraging them to continue with further learning. For this purpose, he launched a charity fund to help students with housing and transport to and from Khartoum.
That was the Bija Fund that helped many Bija students to get advanced education, like former governor of the Eastern Region Shash Ali Shash, educator Ali Onour and others.
The fund was supported by many of the East’s dignitaries, thus managing to succeed.
In Sinkat he was helped by his Khatmi background to win the support of the locals, most of whom adhered to the Khatmiyya religious group.
As an educator, Sheikh Gaddal followed a flexible, democratic approach and the respect of the majority’s opiniSheikh Gaddal died
in October 1975 and was buried in Hillat Hamad Cemetery, Khartoum North. May Allah, the Great, rest his noble soul in peace.
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