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Farewell: To Kathem Nadeem Ben Musa

Just last Tuesday night at about 11:00 PM Tripoli time, I was e-messaging my young niece, Najwa, whom I have never seen in person, only in photos, and in writing and few phone calls. She was keeping me up to date, with all the new changes in my beloved Tripoli.

I was enquiring about many things, and asking about several people, I was reminiscing, about Tripoli, and the old days in Tripoli, the fifties, and the sixties. It was so ironic, that, amongst the many things we talked about, the subject of education, and my favorite teachers in my early childhood days, at Tripoli Elementary School in Shara Mizran.

I asked the young lady if Kathem Nadeem Ben Musa , is still active. Najwas was a bit confused… We know Kathem Nadeem she replied… I said yes..yes.. That’s him how is he, Why, every one on earth know Kathem.. She said it with a very assured tone.

I knew Kathem, as well, I knew him very well, and I am very proud of the fact that I was among the fortunate ones in those days, to have him for a teacher.

Among those many brilliant names that come to mind such as, Kahbazi, Siyalh, Ben Sufya, Sheghiwi, Ariebi. Al Ferjani, The Name Kathem has left a profound impact on many young students lives, then and still to this day.. His genuine love for teaching came from the depths of his being, as a human, and as a loyal son, to his community, and in large part from his late parents.

Kathem, used to bring to the classroom the very best tools to teach us…Oranges, Apples, and Grapes, his show and tell, was always the highlight of our days . How to take nine sections of an Orange and divide them into halves, fourths, and fractions. We were young, and hungry to learn, and yes, we had the best competition amongst us, for that sliver of the orange, or part of that apple. He was ways ahead of his time. He captured our undivided attention, and we, were hungry to devoured, those fruits, if we ensured correctly. One might say, he was the originator of the Carrot, and the stick. But unlike other teacher, he never believed in paddling or yelling at the students, hi weapon, was that ever present smile, and his gift of reasoning.

I knew his family very well, Sudkhi, Muharram, Abdelkareem, and his sisters, all lived in the old family home, in Almadeena Alkhadeema, that home used to be his studio as well, for whenever Kathem had a practice session for an event, I, was among only four student that spent countless hours, learning how to sing a Nasheed, or Khasedah for one occasion or an other. Kathem, gave so much of himself, to so many, without expectation of a reward, or payment, he genuinely believed in his mission as a teacher, and what a teacher he was..

I knew him very well, because, in the late fifties, he and Ben Sufiya, were very instrumental in getting me my first job, as News reporter in training, under Ben Sufya during the early days of the Tripoli Radio Station, I was, elated to be working alongside two of my favorite teachers, whom by now became friends.

I remember the many events, and the times when all the friends gather at “Almaseef Albalade, to enjoy the summer weekends, and hear a new song, and introduce a new talent, he lived a very rich life, for what he believed in, his Libyan music.

I am not sad now, I am celebrating, the sixty years of dedication, and true service that Kathem had given to our people all over, I am celebrating his single handed accomplishments, his vision, for a better future. I am celebrating his profound audacity from early age, to stand tall, unflagging in the face of many obstacles, to create a culture that is, and will always be… so very uniquely synonymous with Kathem Nadeem.

So, from a far, I bid you farewell, my dear teacher.

Abdulhamid Mustafa Ben Hameda


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