It is not every day that one touches ground with the rich and gratifying Latin American literature and writers, this time around luck struck, the Embassy of Colombia and the dynamic International University of Rabat -UIR- “conspired” benevolently to bring to Morocco the world-known Colombian writer Hector Abad Faciolince, to talk to students and faculty about his work translated in several world languages. This highly-interesting literary function was aptly organized by the super active and competent Professor Mustapha Bencheikh, dean of the School of Languages and Civilizations and his able staff: Sara Salmi, Habiba Zaghloul and Mouna Kandil.
Hector Abad Faciolince, the self-made writer
Hector Abad Faciolince was born in Medelin, Colombia in 1958, to a well-to-do family as the only boy -among five sisters-. He started writing at the age of twelve and never stopped since. He is considered today as a prominent Latin American writer and a talented post-Latin American Boom. His books are available in major world languages: English, French, Arabic, German, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Romanian, etc; He has published over 14 works, the most known among them are: his bestselling novel Angosta, and more recently, El Olvido que Seremos (Oblivion: A Memoir). His work was recognized internationally and the writer received many awards.
His father was a prominent doctor and philanthropist, who worked for government and international organization and travelled around the world generously helping local populations and spreading love and understanding, but he was, also, a, university professor, and human rights activist and prominent leader whose holistic vision of healthcare led him to found the Colombian National School of Public Health which allowed many Colombians rich or poor to pursue their studies easily in this specialty to serve Colombians wherever they are.
Hector Abad Faciolince started his presentation talking about his family but mainly his father, who seemingly is his own hero: my father, my idol. At an early age Hector wrote a letter to his globe-trotting father while away in one of his missions. The latter was pleasantly surprised by his son’s mastership of the words and predicted that he would become a writer and thus he became a world know writer: novelist, journalist and essayist, read in many world languages with much delight and gusto.
Hector Abad Faciolince, the magnificent story teller
Hector Abad Faciolince is truly a story teller and a good one, indeed. During his presentation he captivated the public with his personal stories. His secret: the choice of words, the nature of the characters, the tone of voice and the freshness of the narration styles. From the word go the public was receptive of his talk because the man is full of goodness and love and that made everyone feel comfortable and predisposed to be enchanted by his wonderful stories and captivated by their boundless magic.
His father Hector Abad Gomez was some sort Robin Hood or Ali Baba, almost taking from the rich and giving to the needy, especially the community of students who were poor but willing to pursue their education. In a word, his father’s generosity gave hope to the poor and his boundless humanity created so much-needed social cohesion.
My father, my hero
The father not only cared for Colombians welfare but went around the world spreading love and medical care and expertise to the poor. It seems that Colombia was not big enough for this philanthropist and medical doctor goodness to spread his love and affection to the needy. He, indeed, needed a bigger stage and he got it: a big heart for a bigger environment and the world at large benefited greatly from the generosity of this man.
The father’s heart wavered between Catholicism and secularism; he was, actually, both, in a very positive manner. But alas, our good hero was the victim of the very thing he abhorred extremism and violence. Like all good heroes, he fell prey to the violence of the extremists for the only reason that he was a good man full of love. He was murdered by the paramilitaries in a crime that brought about shock in Colombia and other parts of the world. The writer was threatened, himself, and, as a result, he moved to Europe where he stayed for 5 years, first in Spain and later in Italy.
We learn from Hector Abad Faciolince that this dramatic event took place in a country torn by political extremism and drug cartel violence and that people die of gun violence as easily as they breath. Guns are easily available in the country and so is cheap violence.
The public moved by the violent death of Hector Abad Faciolince’s father and they were prepared to shed a tear or two, but the author does not want a sad ending to his story and moved on to talk about hope, dialogue and forgiveness in Colombia and, thus, brought about a happy ending to the tale.
His father was very much like Saint Martin of Tours (Latin: Sanctus Martinus Turonensis; 316 or 336 – 8 November 397), who was born in what is now Szombathely, Hungary, spent much of his childhood in Pavia, Italy, and lived most of his adult life in France, he is considered a spiritual bridge across Europe. He is best known for the account of his using his military sword to cut his cloak in two, to give half to a beggar clad only in rags in the depth of winter. Conscripted as a soldier into the Roman army, he found the duty incompatible with the Christian faith he had adopted and became an early conscientious objector.
Hector Abad Faciolince successfully captivated, for an afternoon, the audience of the International University of Rabat -UIR- in a wonderful literary intimacy transporting everyone through the air to Colombia, which was known to them only for its wonderful coffee and dreadful drug cartels epitomized in a recent American action film entitled “Colombiana. ”
His talk was a wonderful collective therapy extolling such universal concepts as love, affection and infatuation but also pain, death and loneliness. Everyone left the auditorium feeling light and refreshed and willing to give hugs to everyone else because this wonderful Latin American writer spread around, in words, so much love and forgiveness to go around.
Colombia, mon amour.