Obituary: Ibrahim Joyo — committed to idealism

Updated 10 Nov 2017

Email

IBRAHIM Joyo’s funeral prayers being offered on Thursday.—Dawn
IBRAHIM Joyo’s funeral prayers being offered on Thursday.—Dawn

MOHAMMAD Ibrahim Joyo, an iconic literary figure of Sindh who was known for his staunch idealism, passed away in Hyderabad on Thursday at the age of 102. He has left four sons and two daughters. He had been suffering from breathing complications for a few days.

His funeral prayer was offered in Journalists Colony and he was laid to rest on the premises of the Allama I.I. Kazi mausoleum in Sindh University, Jamshoro.

Sindh Untied Party president Jalal Mehmood Shah, Qaumi Awami Tehreek leader Ayaz Latif Palijo, Sindh Taraqqi-pasand Party chairman Dr Qadir Magsi, Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz leader Dr Niaz Kalani, Sindhi Language Authority chairman Riaz Chandio and many other prominent figures attended the funeral.

Joyo served Sindh with his pen and his passion till the very end. A born teacher, he aimed at bringing about an awakening regarding education and the social uplift of the people of Sindh. His ideas were much debated, and often deemed utopian, yet he was respected even by the younger generation.

A person of many virtues, Mr Joyo taught, wrote and preached enlightenment, lobbying for reform in Sindh. His approach towards the province and its people was not inconsistent with his background. Coming from a family of average means in Abad village, in Dadu district, he was born on Aug 12, 1915. He had his early education at Lakki and Sann, followed by the Sindh Madressah [now known as the Sindh Madressatul Islam University] and D.J. College, Karachi. Here, his ideological involvement with the political ideas of G.M. Syed took root.

Appointed first a teacher, he joined the Sindh Madressah, and later the Teachers’ Training College for Men, Hyderabad — the only institution for teachers’ education in the province. After independence he worked in various capacities, including as secretary of the Sindhi Adabi Board that was upgraded from the Sindhi Sahat Board in 1951. Under the guidance of Prof Usman Ali Ansari, Dr U.M. Daudpota, Syed Miran Mohammad Shah, Shaikh Abdul Majid Sindhi and Dr N.A. Baloch, Mr Joyo worked hard in planning, editing and producing Sindhi literature till 1961.

By then the Progressive Writers’ Movement had taken a firm footing in Sindh and Mr Joyo joined the team for its promotion. Along with Maulana Girami and Shaikh Ayaz, he took on the task of shielding and strengthening it. His role in activating the Sindhi Adabi Sangat, a literary organisation that encouraged new trends in Sindhi literature, was very commendable.

He had no aptitude for writing during his early life but after entering college, he developed the interest when he met political workers at the servants’ quarters at G.M. Syed’s house at Karachi. When he went to the then Bombay [now Mumbai] in 1941 for further training, he gained new political insight into nationalism. On his return in 1942, he joined the Radical Democratic Party which published a fortnightly English-language newspaper Freedom Calling, where he worked as an apprentice.

Mr Joyo’s writing career began in 1947 when he wrote a book in English, Save Sind — Save the Continent. This created an uproar and the then education minister, Pir Illahi Bakhsh, ordered his removal. However, a lenient view was taken and he was transferred to Hyderabad. His other works include translations and commentaries, notably Shah, Sachal, Sami (1978); Adab, Boli, Taleem (1994); Sindhu Desh — A Nation in Chains (1974); On Sindh, a compilation of articles by Dr G.M. Mehkri, (2010); and a large number of newspaper columns, articles, comments and prefaces of various books. After retirement, he continued writing and joined many literary and cultural organisations.

After the 2008 elections, when the Sindh government formed a committee to study various literary, historical and linguistic aspects of the Sindhi language to grant it the status of a national language, Mr Joyo played an active part. Unfortunately, the effort did not materialise into action.

One of his arguments that did not find currency during his later years was his conviction that Sindhi-speaking people should send their children to English-medium schools. This raised many an eyebrow, and the question loomed as to how such students would compete with the rest of the world.

On Feb 2, 2009, Mr Joyo underwent a heart bypass surgery. In the words of Nisar Ahmad Khuhro, then speaker of the Sindh Assembly who had come to participate in his birthday, “[…] Joyo has become a reconditioned man with a stronger will.” On Jan 15, his new book, Sindh Jaa Moon Sapnan Mein Dithhi [Sindh as I saw in my Dreams] was launched. It describes his ideals and aspirations, which he shared with G.M. Syed and other leaders.

The intellectual liked following a strict timetable. He had allocated certain times for different activities, and would ensure that this time was used on that particular project. Perhaps this was how he could fulfil the pledges he made to his students, fellow writers and nationalists. Despite old age in his last days, he used to write articles and columns in his own hand. Before his death, he donated his personal library to the Sindhi Adabi Board, which was aptly named after Mr Joyo during his lifetime.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2017