Al-Baidha: Sweet & Bitter Life [Archives:1998/17/Last Page]

April 27 1998

Al-Baidha Governorate is the home of many archeological and historical sites. It was the stronghold of the Taherite state, the summer capital of King Tobaa and the cradle of the Himyarite civilization.
Al-Baidha has many natural features, ranging from towering mountains to rolling deserts.
Administratively, it consists of 12 directorates and inhabited by 508,195 persons. About 75% of the 
Al-Baidha population are Bedouin, who are characterized by special human features.
Socializing with the Bedouins makes one happy and sad all at one time: happy for their dignity, generosity, honesty, solidarity, resilience in hardships and simple and spontaneous life. These simple folks live for the day, their life is almost the same since time immemorial. They are very realistic people, never building castles in the air like the town dwellers.Al-Baidha Bedouins rely on simple resources for their daily subsistence: little seasonal agriculture and sheep grazing.
Every individual in an Al-Baidha Bedouin family fully knows and dutifully performs his or her role. They work from sunrise to sunset, eking out a living in their harsh environment.
What is sad about all this, however, is these proud folks’ daily hardships and sufferings. They are people with little hope for the future. As soon as one sets foot on their land, the magnitude of their daily struggle becomes readily clear. A visitor to this arid, yet beautiful landscape, can be shocked by scenes of deprivation and misery. Lack of basic amenities and absence of development in this part of the world makes one extremely dispirited. These people certainly do not have plans for their future. They just dream of having a health center, water-supply project, electricity, school for their kids, decent roads into the nearest town, and the basicnecessities.
Uneducated young people, pools of stagnant dirty water, homes made of reeds, camel-hair tents, camels and donkeys used for transport, lanterns used for lighting, rampant epidemics, diseases cured by coterie and hocus-pocus, and many other backward phenomena are just a few of the starkly shocking scenes a new visitor is confronted with.
Little school-age boys and girls take the few sheep their families have to graze every morning. Schools are a luxury in such a place. Pregnant women have to carry home firewood and jerrycans full of water on their backs for long distances.
But all is not doom and gloom. In addition to the downs, life in this harsh environment also has its ups. Al-Baidha people have different celebrations and dances for different occasions: weddings, feasts, circumcision ceremonies, returning from the pilgrimage, rainfall, etc.
In Eid time a clown, Moajib in Al-Baidha dialect , wears an animal skin to dance to the rhythm of drums and receive simple gifts from his usually young audience for a performance well done. The Moajib waves sticks in the air and does clownish and acrobatic movements. He is usually followed by a snow-balling procession composed of old and young people, all delighted for this welcome break in their dreary lives.
Nasser Ahmed Al-Awadhi,
Journalism Department, Media College,
Sanaa University