"Al Maghrib" Special edition. Commemoration of the 40th day after the loss of Said Hajji, sixth year - No. 937 April 29, 1942
If I were a visionary poet or a painter and if I was asked to represent the enterprising mindset of youth, I would not hesitate to depict it as flame sprouting from the heart to seize all feelings and sensations. If one were to ask me to describe the quick wit and rapid readiness to confront the course of events and to adapt to temporal and local circumstances the response I would have provided would not go beyond some statement of equivalence. However if a third person were to ask who I have found to have all these attributes, I would with heart and soul point to Said who was appreciated by all and whose loss for Morocco is unmatched.
I would have said, 'Here is a man who has all these qualities that no one else is privileged to claim. He is the product of an era which for a long time has been bereft of this exceptional gift. Was he not the first to have given the necessary impulse to the youth to awaken them from the torpor into which they had plunged? Was he not at the forefront who lit the torch of awakening? Yes, it was he who initiated the first active movement of our youth. He was well ahead of his time; a child prodigy and prodigies like him are like a very rare miracle. He led this movement while he was still a teenager who was preparing to pursue his studies abroad.
He was born on February 29, 1912 and headed this movement in 1930. But his time in Morocco had to be curtailed as he planned to leave. In the interim he entrusted the movement to one of his colleagues so he could prepare for his trip to the Middle East where he chose to apply to the Islamic University in Beirut, then went later to the University of Damascus and finally to Cairo University.
Upon his return to Morocco, he firmly resolved to do everything possible to advance his nation and rallied throughout his short life to this task. A life totally dedicated to serve this cause, he fenced with all limbs to overcome the trials which he faced. He crossed swords with adversity armed only with his will and patience until the day he fell like a honorable gladiator on the battlefield.
I know of no person with his firm resolve, his strong character and his determination in the face of events and whims of the times. He bypassed all in his vision for the future as well as in how quickly he acted to serve the common good despite the many upheavals brought by successive events. No one can match the useful and profitable projects he undertook. I do not think that the journalistic mission many Moroccans undertake as breadwinners is exercised in the same professional manner outside his newspaper which reflected guidelines that were well thought out and with a policy based on sound judgement. We strove before him while others tried their luck before us and yet the door for a (national) press remained hermetically sealed.
But when Said completed his studies in the Middle East, he returned to Morocco fired up and convinced that nothing was impossible when one is driven by good intentions and when one carries on his mission with flawless devotion. And so he created the conditions that contributed to the birth of a free national Moroccan press and opened wide its door for him and for others.
One day he confided to me during a discussion between us that he had studied in Damascus along with the current director of the Syrian magazine "Al Amali." Before they separated both shared their firm intentions to engage in journalism to best serve their countries. Since then they have realized their aspirations.
While he was engaged in the fray of journalism he devoted his heart and soul to this profession to work entirely in the service of the common good. He never considered journalism to be a profession to bring (him) fortune. For the longest time, his expenses were not covered by his receipts. I believe they were (originally) two times the amount received partly due on one hand to the small circulation of readers given the lack of interest (initially) shown by the public at large towards the press. and also due to the enormous sums of the necessary investments to start the business and the costs for maintenance and renewal of equipment not to mention the operating costs irregardless of incoming revenue.
But despite this he was confident in his abilities in all his endeavors. He faced all difficulties that surfaced on his path with firmness of heart, an open mind and without worries. This allowed him to soar from one success to another in all his undertakings.
The concern to enrich to the public to the maximum on the different aspects and advantages of the press, led him to diversify his publications by circulating a news daily enhanced each week with a literary supplement. He would later dedicate a magazine called "Al Taqafa Al Maghribia" (Moroccan Culture) that was independent of the "Al Maghrib" newspaper for (the dissemination of) cultural and literary activities. This was after he successfully formed an editorial staff composed of the most eminent (Moroccan) writers and literary experts of the time. He then devoted himself to the management of the two publications while continuing to provide his editorial input.
He visited with me every now and then and I saw that he led an austere lifestyle totally given to his work. This austerity was notable even in the way he dressed despite belonging to a wealthy family. His father with whom I had the opportunity to discuss this matter said that he had regularly suggested to buy for him clothing made of silk of the highest quality only to have his offers declined.
This reminds me of what I had read in some magazine with regards to the behavior of active youth in a number of countries who sacrificed all of life's attractions for the purpose to work in the service of their nation. The author of the article writes that while he was in Ankara, Turkey's capital, he was hailed by a young man with wide shoulders, short of stature, dressed in a scout outfit, his forefront dripping with sweat and lifting an armful of newspapers.
"This is a newspaper for young people" he told him, "we editorialize and assume the costs for its publication and distribution in order to allow the voice of the youth to be heard. Would you encourage us by burying a copy?"
The author continues his account by writing:
"Sometime later circumstances were such that I encountered once again this young man on a train but he had a totally different bearing. He was dressed elegantly, traveled in first class, eating chicken and passing sweets to his company of friends. I became aware that he belonged to a very large bourgeois family that was among the most wealthy and generous,"
Our beloved Said enjoyed order and had saw the continuity of what need to be followed in his undertakings. He planned his projects from their launch to their full maturity. He generally began with a very small effort and little by little he developed his goals and made their proportions grow with time. This is why he was successful in his endeavors and never failed.
He began printing "Al Maghrib" newspaper with cheap low quality paper then introduced a number of improvements until the day when the newspaper began to assert itself as a daily and could be printed with a quality paper identical to that used by Protectorate government based newspapers. The same was true for the literary supplement which was printed with basic paper with a cover of similar appearance. This was replaced eventually by the magazine "Al Taqafa Al Maghribia" printed with paper of much better quality.
One can say likewise for his first printing shop which he bought second hand according to the limited means available to him. He incrementally developed his shop until he was able to acquire one of the largest Arabic printing houses in Morocco. His original printing house was small and located in a secluded part of Salé and did not exceed 15 square meters of floorspace. It could not house more than two or three employees. He later transfered (his operations) to a site at the Mamounia in Rabat considered to be one of the most spacious and important locations of the capital where the largest amount of commercial activity was conducted. It began operations next to a print shop he bought and thus provided a vast floorspace to house a large number of employees. The "Al Oumnia" printing house became simultaneously a printing house for the newspaper and for other publications such as those involving new editions of ancient texts threatened by extinction.
The same goes for the administrative offices of the newspaper. In the beginning they were very modest and located in a building belonging to his father in Sid Turkui Square in Salé. Subsequently these were later moved to a much larger building outside the Fez Gate, one of the major gates of Salé. From there they were moved to the Dar El Makhzen Avenue in Rabat where he chose to establish the headquarters of his enterprise.
Besides what we have evoked on the matter of the order of priorities he followed in his endeavors, he had the knack to attract the hearts and minds and to be loved by all. Thus he successfully gathered around him Morocco's young elite of his time and established teams of editors, writers, lino typists, printers, salesmen and others. Moreover his wisdom was a model for all his endeavors crowned with success so much so that he attained almost all his objectives.
And now that we are faced with a divine prescription to which no one can escape nor can any doctor heal, nor any magical power can overcome and so it will take the test of will to address this misfortune with grace and control of feelings. This is especially true for the deceased's family and for the brotherhood of youth that must seek courage and pray that Allay will grant to each the moral power that the deceased exercised in the service to his country to achieve the works he initiated. May they all engage like him on the path for goodness. It is now their time to take in hand the newspaper and magazine and to double their efforts to print with renewed elan and recover its dynamic tone. We have observed that ever since Said became ill, the quality of its publications, especially those of the magazine, have gone downhill.
May Allah grant to those affected the faith as written in the Koranic verse excerpted from "Imran's Family:"
They are delighted to be filled with the blessings and grace of Allah and to believe that the Lord will never let perish His rewards for the believers. For those who suffered setback and responded to the call by Allah and the Prophet, and who never ceased to do good and mind the Lord, reserved onto them a great reward. For some have told them, "Your enemies have regathered their strength and will again attack you. Be on guard." However their faith grew and they replied, "Allah is all we need, this is the best guaranty there is." They returned home filled with the blessings and grace of the Lord and underwent no harm.They above all sought the satisfaction of Allah's infinite gifts.
(The Koran, An attempt to interpret the inimitable Koran - p. 91 - Translated from the French text by Sadok Mazigh - Jaguar Editions - 1985).
Abou Bakr Zniber