Footprints on the road

(Photo: Jordan News)
I was truly intrigued by Munther Haddadin’s, Jordan’s renowned water expert and official, memoirs. The title of this article is my own translation of the title of his autobiographical book. His honesty and candor are refreshing, and his precision in the narrative is admirable.اضافة اعلان

Haddadin had a very colorful life, of which I was a continual witness for more than 45 years. My name was mentioned in his book more than 10 times, and I was in two photos which he indexed at the end of the 654-page book.

He comes from a highly intellectual family, most of whom I met. They lived in the historic city of Maeen, known for its mineral water and ancient therapeutic spas. The family descends from the Ghassanids, who are followers of the Eastern Orthodox Church near Karak, and who had always clung to their Arab identity and culture. Although highly educated, they have high emotional reflexes and are stubborn in their positions. While devout Christians, they consider Islam as an integral part of their culture. 

Haddadin lost two high-level jobs, the last of which was his ministerial portfolio in Abdelsalam Al-Majali government, over water contamination issues. 

He was a fierce negotiator with the Israelis. His house in Al Ferdous District was bombarded and he and his family escaped unscathed. In his book, he comes close to saying that he was targeted by people (probably Israelis or their cronies), yet he never said that openly.

He and I probably share the trait that we look for respect over love, and if a trade-off between the two were mandatory, we would opt for respect. Such persons can become irritable to their bosses and can sometimes get on their nerves. Haddadin’s life reveals many incidents that attest to that. I cannot remember a time when he was not in a hot debate with his bosses or his peers over something.

He was shot by a tribal dignitary over water distribution rights. All his Israeli counterparts in both bilateral and multilateral negotiations complained of his “standoffish” manners. His religious beliefs are unshakable and his negotiation positions are steadfast. He does not change or waver until he is convinced of the gains which could be achieved if he relents or softens his stand on certain issues.

Haddadin was a great public servant, and I felt very proud, when I was accorded the Centennial Order of Merit by His Majesthy King Abdullah II, that he was an honoree as well.

The book also refers to his nuclear family. His American wife, Lexi, is from South Dakota. She is a true embodiment of the prairie lady depicted in the famous Seventies TV series “Little House on the Prairie”. His daughters Somayya and Badia, and his son Yazan are very loving children, but were intent on doing things their own way. One probably would think that Haddadin would dictate his will on them. That was not to be. All the resolve he showed during his long career was shelved and he surrendered to the will of his children, allowing them to choose what to study, where to study and whom to marry.

Yet, the trick in all this relationship is that they ended up doing exactly what he had wished they would. All studied and pursued their studies to the level he had wanted them to reach. They married, despite sectoral differences, in Eastern Orthodox churches, converting their spouses to that sect if they were not from it. The lesson derived from this story: “Let your children choose, and they will surprise you at the end by choosing what you had wanted them to do.”

Haddadin is a poet, excellent writer and researcher, great husband and parent, a faithful friend and a man to differ with. His book should be translated into English.

Jawad Anani is an economist, and has held several ministerial posts, including former deputy prime minister and former chief of the Royal Court.

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