A Syndicate for the Maganeen of Taiz! [Archives:1999/25/Focus]

June 21 1999

By: Mohammed Hatem. Al-Qadhi 
Managing Editor, 
Yemen Times 
Poverty, this horrible nightmare, has begun spreading its tentacles all over the society. Taking a glance at the people walking on streets of our cities, one is staggered by the number of poor people walking there. Stories of misery and catastrophe are clear in every face. In fact, the panorama of the saddening and tragic events that are occurring in our society is truly inconceivable and unspeakable. Life has become unbearable for the majority of the people. The number of beggars and unemployed people is rising dramatically. It has become almost natural to see people taking streets as their home, it has become usual to see people eating from the rubbish bins. You don’t have also to be surprised to find men, women or children knocking at your door asking for “haq Allah” or help. The economic hardship has taken its toll on the lives of the commoners. 
But, what has ostentatiously attracted my attention is the too many maganeen or mad people prowling all over the city of Taiz. The phenomenon is eye-catching to everybody visiting or dwelling in Taiz. Last year, I wrote an article in the Yemen Times addressing the same predicament. Again, and because our writing did not produce any concrete action on the part of the people in authority, I have decided to write about the prowling maganeen in the city of Taiz. This is not to repeat the same story or to fill a blank. It is absolutely not like that. Rather, I want to alarm the government and the society of the increasingly rise of the number of the maganeen. To put it the other way, the situation has reached the boiling point. From the psychological point of view, the continuously deteriorating living standards of the people in our society is to be the main thing responsible for this human dilemma. Sociologists might explain it the other way; they will give the social factor more significance. But, to my humble knowledge, all factors that might be raised to explain the predicament and its components will be all referred to as economy at large. This is because social problems among common family members, take divorce for instance, all have economic background. Social problems are increasing very much. We have begun to hear about homicide, matricide, patricide, genocide and many other evils. When a father finds himself helpless and unable to feed his kids or have a job to ensure their survival, he may very easily go crazy. 
The number of people joining the world of madness is alarming, and has begun to reach dangerous dimensions. “Why not establishing a syndicate for the maganeen of Taiz, since their numbers are now great enough to qualify for one,” a friend of mine once observed sardonically. In other words, the economic hardships have taken much of the welfare of the people. Visiting people at their homes and seeing what kind of food they have, one gets shocked and saddened. Most of the people have tea and bare bread for their lunch. What a pity?! The situation evokes a verse by the English visionary poet William Blake who once observed in one of his poems ” some are born to sweet delight/some are born to endless night.” And that is really very true about us now. 
It seems that I have strayed from the main topic. But, sure, the economic hardships are the main headache of the country right now; they are whole and sole spring of our plights, including that of the maganeen. 
This doesn’t mean that the maganeen are only to be found in Taiz. Rather, all the cities of Yemen are full of such pitiable people, drifting aimlessly in our cities and finding none to take care of them. 
But, if the government has decided to drive the majority nuts and make them starve, it is better for it to find houses to keep its victims. In other words, to keep these helpless people out of the sight of the public must be the top priority of the government which failed to keep them sound and sane. The scenery is very disgusting and pathetic. Furthermore, these prowling maganeen have become a threat for the people walking on the streets, particularly women and children. What is more remorseful is to see even the sensitive parts of their bodies exposed to the public sights. This is not good for the reputation of the country. The government has seemed to be serious regarding the marketing of tourism. A part of this plan should be to keep our cities clean and free them from these helpless creatures, for they are not decorations to show our guests and visitors. It is not just that. Some of them shout loudly in the streets, particularly at night. So, isn’t that a source of noise for people? What is the need for them in our streets? Can anybody tell me? 
As a matter of fact, the spread of the maganeen all over the cities has captured the attention of even small kids. Let me tell you a story. Once, while I was walking on Jamal street in Taiz, a small kid, seeing a mad man sleeping on the street, quipped “The government is corrupt.” I impulsively asked: “Why?” and came close to him. His replay was that it should take the maganeen away from the public sight and keep them in a house where they are given food and health care. This very reply sent shock waves down my spine. I appreciated the sense of responsibility in that boy. Paradoxically, I felt so sad and gloomy that no one of the people in charge is aware of the predicament. In fact, going through the streets of our cities, one gets very frightened for s/he can read the plights of the people on their faces. He/she can not fail to see almost all the people walking talking to themselves. This makes me feel all of them are crazy or mad. What a pity?! It is only the walkers who can observe this plight, for the rich are riding highly fashionable cars, oblivious to the tragedy. 
Finally, will the people concerned do this philanthropic job of taking these maganeen away from the streets? That will not cost much, will it?