Akhtiar Benyamin


by Solomon (Sawa) Solomon

When writing a biography of Rabee Akhtiar one does not know how to begin to describe him. In the last 75 years he has been everywhere and has done everything: He is an educator, an author, a poet, a translator of literature, a church elder, a civic leader, and an editor of a magazine.

Rabee Akhtiar was born in the dark days of august 1915 when our nation was being attacked by Turks and Kurds. His family fled along with other Assyrians to lran first and then to lraq ending in the Baquba refugee camp. In Mosul he attended the Assyrian primary school for two years before moving to Baghdad in 1926 to enter the American Mission School of Kasha Khando. He graduated with honors in 1934. He spent four years in Habaniyah working before joining the Iraq Petroleum Company in Kirkuk; he was to work in I.P.C. for 36 years before retiring in 1974. While in Kirkuk Akhtiar became a very active leader. Here are some of his activities:

1. A secretary in the Assyrian Relief Fund.

2. Accountant and Secretary in a committee that bought a school building and

built the Church of Mar Gewargis.

3. Secretary in school committees.

4. Chairman for the Assyrian Benevolent Society in Iraq.

5. Vice President for the Assyrian Athletic Club (Kirkuk Branch).

6. Member in the Society of Authors and Intellectuals in Iraq.

In 1973 a Silver Medal was given to him in honor of being one of the founders of the Assyrian Primary school in Kirkuk, Iraq.

As an author, he has written a book in Assyrian history based on very reliable sources, an Assyrian book of medicines, and a number of historical books translated from English and Arabic languages. He has translated also a few plays from Shakespeare, but above all he translated the famous book 'A Church on Fire' from English to Assyrian. Not to be left behind. Rabee Akhtiar has written many poems.

In 1980 he migrated to the U.S., where he was appointed a chairman of the literary committee by his holiness Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV. Rabee Akhtiar is also the Editor-in-chief of the Voice from the East. In 1983 he was awarded a plaque of honor by the Assyrian National Foundation for his outstanding Educational work in the City of Chicago.

This is but a partial list of the achievements of this dedicated Assyrian; much of the information for this article came from a brief autobiography.