June 24 marks 56 years since the birth of Najaf Najafov – one of the leaders of the Azerbaijani national movement of the late 80s, founder and editor of the first independent newspaper in Azerbaijan today – “Azadliq”.
Najaf passed away on 17 December 1999, leaving a positive and bright memory in the minds of thousands of citizens of our country, as well as far beyond its borders.
Over the past 12 years many attempts have been made to assess the role and legacy of this man. It would be no exaggeration to say that Najaf Najafov laid the foundations of modern Azerbaijani journalism. He started these traditions during Soviet times, in the newspaper “Molodyozh Azerbaijana” (Youth of Azerbaijan) and continued them in “Azadliq” (Liberty).
This alone is enough to immortalize the name of this person. But perhaps Najaf’s biggest achievement was what he did to awaken our minds from totalitarian hibernation and transition them into values that are today known as universal and democratic.
“No man is a prophet in his own country” – the fate of this man just highlights the correctness of this expression and the principle of Thermidor, who was born during the French Revolution. He can also be compared to Gorky’s Danko, or the mythical Prometheus.
The fate of those who first think of others before themselves has many similarities. Such people rarely make a fortune, or live for their own pleasure. Their mission is self-sacrifice. Even if they try to be something different – pragmatic, shrewd – they feel uncomfortable. Self-sacrifice is a need, even a talent, for such people.
“The DNA carrier of integrity” – this is perhaps the best characterization of Najaf, by his colleague Israil Musaev.
I would characterize him as a passionary. Such people are rarely born, and their mission is to change the world (although passionaries are not often heroic characters.)
The philosophy of life and the world order are not built on the principles of justice and fairness. Passionaries and heroes stand at the forefront in difficult times, and are seen as holy and idolized. But difficulties pass and heroes become forgotten. Therefore, leaders and activists are often destined to imprisonment, persecution and suffering. Today’s political events are just more proof of this. The fate of Najaf is no exception.
Talented and gifted people are often born unnoticed and only when they part do we feel excruciating pain. The most common thought after that – how do we bring them back? Understanding that this intuitive sense is unrealizable, we recall what our mutual friend Hikmet Hajizadeh once said: “Najaf is gone, but one day a new Najaf will be born. This is the philosophy of life.”
Original in Russian and Azeri [Contact.az].