Culture Culture

01/02/2020 - 07:38

A native of Quảng Nam in Hue

Over the age of sixty, Dr. Huynh Cong Ba still chooses to stay in the Ancient Capital to do research. Asked about the reason, he humorously said, "My backpack is too heavy for me to go because there are too many books"!

Every day, Dr. Huynh Cong Ba spends a lot of time reading and researching.

Introducing Vietnamese history to the world

Dr. Huynh Cong Ba’s house is replete of books from the shelves to bedroom... estimated at tens of thousands of books.

… He began to tell stories about himself also from books. Passionate about research from high school, but it was not until he went to university (firstly, Hue University of Law and then to Hue University of Pedagogy for the secondary-level high education in History-Geography) that he had access to books at the library.

Ranked first in 1978 with an excellent graduation thesis, Huynh Cong Ba was retained to work at university, and then frequently invited to deliver visiting lectures. At that time, every time coming to Ho Chi Minh City for teaching, lecturer Ba was seen with an empty backpack. However, when he returned, his backpack was chock-full of books, sometimes with the bag of hundreds of books.

His passion for books is what a lot of people could think of Huynh Cong Ba. However, that the all-out efforts to collect fieldwork materials helped him to “boldly” criticize the researches done by the predecessors and successfully defend a PhD thesis in 1996 is not pubic knowledge.

Recalling the old story, he thought it was both difficulty and memory. “It was not until the early 1990s that the province had photocopies. Meanwhile, the familial materials relevant to genealogy could not be taken out of the house. In order to have those materials, I had to handwrite. However, to get their agreement, I had to translate those materials into Vietnamese so that they could know the family history. Going to the remote village took a whole week, but in return, I was both agreed to handwrite the materials and served with meals,” said Dr. Ba.

The books, fieldwork materials and research thinking helped Dr. Huynh Cong Ba to have his own characteristics of research and to continuously publish books. Since 2000 when he centered on publishing books, he has had up to 20 books in 4 areas: Vietnamese History, Vietnamese Culture, Vietnamese Thought, and Vietnamese Ancient Law.

Especially with thorough and objective research, he is one of few researchers, whose books are kept in 126 major libraries of the world. Simultaneously, he was also ranked by the World Electronic Library Organization (the United States) among the group of true researchers.

The books written by Dr. Huynh Cong Ba

In 2017, Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations inserted his name into "Portrait of Vietnamese and World Founders ". In that book, on historical research, he was a typical case. One year later, Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations continued to insert his name into the book "The representative face of global integration", selecting the faces that had an impact on the world.

In 2019, he was once again honored to be the face in the "Golden Book - Faces of Vietnam's scientific, educational and cultural career" by Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations.

Strangely enough, Dr. Huynh Cong Ba is influenced by “Quảng Nam hay cãi” (Quảng Nam’s people refusing to submit to wrong things) Prof. Tran Quoc Vuong once explained that because the intellectuals of Quang land studied seriously, confronted with the wrong things, they could not accept. Aside from criticizing the studies of historical circle, the works by Dr. Huynh Cong Ba always have depth and thorough evidence.

The books such as Vietnam Cultural History, Vietnamese History ... show that he was one of those who incorporated the cultural history of Phu Nam and Champa into Vietnamese history. Simultaneously, he was cautious about dealing with the sources of historical materials to discuss the historical development during the disintegration of these two kingdoms in the spirit of scientific research.

When referring to Dr. Huynh Cong Ba, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Truong Cong Huynh Ky, former Dean of History Department, University of Pedagogy, Hue University always praised, “He is an enthusiastic lecturer in research and teaching. He invested a lot of time in research, and his works are very valuable, supplementing and clarifying the issues of ancient and medieval history, Vietnamese laws of the feudal dynasties ...”

"Can't go because there are too many books"

In 1973, Ba in Quảng land passed his baccalaureate, rejected the idea of ​​coming to Saigon for study and chose Hue as a place for development. It seemed he was predestined to be attached to Hue for nearly half a century.

Perhaps so, the book "The example set by a science worker" (published by Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, 2014) said in his place, "He attached most of his life to the Ancient Capital. Hue became the second hometown, and he has made minor scientific contributions to repay Hue, the land that has nurtured him."

Since the 1980s of the last century, Huynh Cong Ba has had the articles at the important conferences and in the specialized journals including the studies on Hue, published in Dan Newspaper (1981) or local magazines such as Binh Tri Thien Historical Studies, Hue Studies, Ancient and present Hue  ...

A special feature that the Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations pointed out when writing about Dr. Huynh Cong Ba is that usually the science workers seems to be dry but he is very soft because Hue's romanticism has been absorbed into his flesh and blood.

Dr. Huynh Cong Ba was honored in many books by Vietnam Union of UNESCO Associations

Unlike the retired elderly who often choose to entertain themselves in rural areas, join their family or at least return to their homeland, Dr. Huynh Cong Ba once again attaches his career to Hue. He said his two children went to Saigon, and his wife also lived them. So far, he has spent ten years living alone with three cơm bụi meals (popular meals at a cheap price) a day, but he still insists on living in Hue. During the talk, he said humorously, "My backpack is too heavy for me to go because there are too many books."

Story and photos: Huu Phuc