Geoff Hann, creator of our information to Iraq, handed away on April twenty first 2022. To commemorate his life, Geoff’s good friend and co-author Karen Dabrowska shares the tribute she delivered at his funeral in Might.
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The Holy Quran tells us: “We’ve created you from female and male and made you peoples and tribes that you could be know each other.”
And that’s precisely what Geoff did. He introduced individuals collectively from completely different international locations and completely different cultures so they might get to know one another. He constructed bridges of friendship and understanding between East and West.
On this verse the Quran talks about individuals and it was the Iraqi individuals who helped Geoff in his hour of want within the days earlier than his tragic dying in Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad. After he suffered a stroke on the finish of an archaeological tour of Iraq he was with out buddies because the individuals on the tour had left the nation. A medical evacuation flight organised by Tina his companion was not allowed to take off as two individuals on the tour had been arrested for allegedly attempting to smuggle antiquities out of Iraq and the choose stated Geoff needed to keep in Baghdad so he might reply questions on this. I heard about Geoff’s plight by the group funding attraction organised by Tina and spoke to Tom Westcott, a journalist. What Tom doesn’t learn about getting issues carried out in Baghdad just isn’t price understanding. Tom contacted a good friend and in lower than twenty-four hours Geoff had pyjamas, juice and wonderful meals. And he was sorted day-after-day till he handed on April 21st.
Imam Ali talks about brothers in Islam and sons in humanity and we noticed the humanity, generosity, friendship and good will of the Iraqi individuals in the best way they helped Geoff.
When Saeed Shehabi who runs the Abrar Islamic Basis heard I needed to organise a commemoration for Geoff, he stated Might 31st is 40 days after he handed – lets have it then. As soon as once more sons in humanity, Saeed and Abrar gave us the usage of the venue and offered a meal. And I need to say a particular thanks to Saeed, Hassan and everybody in Abrar.
A lot of you’ll know Geoff however for these little kids in humanity who by no means met him, I want to say a number of phrases about his wonderful life.
Geoff was the world’s oldest tour chief nonetheless taking individuals to Iraq aged 85. He handled conflict, sanctions, terrorism and a worldwide pandemic as minor hurdles in a mission to share his ardour for the traditional historical past of contemporary Iraq.
He was not a person – he was a superman – doing issues no person else managed to do.
He was the primary individual to take vacationers to Iraq throughout the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq conflict, the primary one to take vacationers to survey the destruction wreaked by ISIS in Mosul, the primary to take vacationers after Western governments imposed sanctions on the regime of Saddam Hussein and the primary to revisit the nation when COVID-19 journey bans had been lastly lifted.
He grew to become a tour information who took travellers with him everywhere in the lesser-explored locations on the earth for 50 years: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Kashmir… the record goes on. He has been blown up by the Taliban, shot at by the Syrians and was caught up within the Iranian Revolution. However he all the time introduced everybody dwelling safely.
The overland journeys began when Geoff drove from London to India to the place his spouse had gone to stay in ashram with a guru. He misplaced a spouse and the world gained an adventurer who, by his firm Hann Overland, organised tons of of journeys from London to Kathmandu.
He nonetheless stored going regardless of wars and sanctions: if the FCO suggested towards journey to a rustic you might be certain Geoff could be taking vacationers there.
I first met Geoff when attempting to put in writing a journey information to Iraq for Bradt. Dr Salah Shaikhly a outstanding determine within the opposition to Saddam’s regime prompt I write it and I stated sure. Every little thing is simpler to get into than out of. Our first assembly was bit strained. “What have you learnt about Iraq?” Geoff requested as he glared at me from throughout a large eating desk in his dwelling in Streatham. “Not lots,” I stated. Finish of dialog. I went dwelling with my tail between my legs.
However after I bought dwelling there have been no less than ten emails from Geoff, footage, solutions to questions, details about vacationer websites in Iraq solely he had. That was Geoff, a meticulous researcher who offered these on his excursions with wonderful background info. His contacts on the bottom had been second to none, he might make knowledgeable choices about when it was obligatory to vary route or abandon a go to to a sure website for safety causes. He was the perfect individual to put in writing a journey information to Iraq. It was an honour and a privilege to put in writing three journey guides with him.
Retiring, rising previous – Geoff gave that up years in the past. I bear in mind saying to him “I’m 60 now,” and he checked out me with the mischievous grin I’m certain you all bear in mind and stated “I’m 80 – what’s your downside?” He was a little bit of a satan, he cherished a drink and time and he was enjoyable to be with, all the time useful and entertaining.
We’re all very unhappy Geoff is now not with us on this earthly aircraft. However quite than mourn his dying allow us to rejoice his life, his inspiration, and his can-do perspective. He achieved many missions unimaginable.
Allow us to hope that journeys to Iraq – the intense scholarly journeys which take us to the cradle of civilisation – proceed, and one other inspiring journey agent follows in Geoff’s footsteps and continues to foster friendships throughout frontiers between the Iraqis and the peoples of the world.
I’ll finish with a quote from the well-known Iraqi poet Badr Al-Sayyab which I’m certain echoes Geoff’s sentiments:
Farewell my buddies, my beloved ones
If you happen to want to bear in mind me,
Keep in mind me on a moonlight night time
When the moon shines over the Tigris
In any other case, I’ll simply be a reputation
Disappeared amongst different names
Simply because the moon lights up the Tigris
You lit up my life
I’m without end in your hearts
Simply search for on the moon
On a moonlight night time.
Geoff Hann was the creator of our information to Iraq. He handed away on April twenty first 2022.